Glen Eades' column in the Magnolia Banner News:

August 17, 1990

Dr. Earlie Pearl
Treats the 'Firetods'

   Mayor Joe Mullins announced that free blood pressure checks, free blood sugar and other examinations will be offered by Humana Hospital of Springhill at Emerson on Aug. 21.  The clinic will be held at the city hall from 9-11 a.m.

   Mary Frances and Miss Effie Dodson traveled to Arcadia last week and visited Ruth Thrailkill.  Bennie Murray Dodson of Magnolia spent Thursday night with Miss Effie and Mary, and Viloa Tooks of Shongaloo visited the Dodsons and picked a bushel of peaches to make peach pickles.

   Lurline Wilbanks and Majorie Hudson went to El Dorado Wednesday to visit Gina.

   It has been too hot to do anything but sit on the front porch and whittle.  Bubba Earl hauled up a few watermelons Wednesday and claimed he hurt his back.  Then he drew a bucket of water out of the well and lay on the porch pouring it over his face with a gourd dipper until he cooled off.

   While Bubba Earl comforted himself, Billy Joe commenced telling us about Uncle Jess Bear and how he suffered with back trouble after he used one of those brush hooks while working for the county one day.  Jess never got over the arthritis that jumped on his back that same night and lasted the rest of his life, just because he cut bushes that time.  Bubba Earl said his mom could have cured that back trouble if she had known about it.

   The last time we got sick, Bubba Earl’s mother, Earlie Pearl, proved she knows more about medicine than any doctor in the free world.  We all got nigh graveyard dead last week with fever and something she called “firetods”, an illness of unknown etiology.  She said most doctors don’t even know about the ailment and none of them know how to cure it.  She administered a poultice made of mullein, asafetida, garlic, pond scum, turpentine and coal oil with secret herbs and spices.  We got well in no time.  And horseflies and mosquitoes never came near our place during treatments, which was a welcome relief, after Billy Joe claimed he heard a prowler one night and shot holes in all the screens.  Earlie Pearl claims her treatment to be an old Indian remedy.  She also recommends Tichenor’s, which she takes frequently to prevent colds and flu.

   Earlie Pearl told me about everything in her arthritis treatment except for her 12 secret herbs and spices she keeps in a coal oil can.  The remedy calls for a paste made of Cardui (or red wine), sassafras root, Sloan’s liniment and dental snuff applied with a mullein leaf daily for a month.  (Mullein is a light green fuzzy plant, looks like cabbage and grows wild in south Arkansas.)  She said, “If that don’t cure it, or if treatments are refused, the victim don’t have arthritis in the first place and the worthless loafer is faking so everyone has to wait on him hand and foot.”  She claimed her own papa was like that.  She added, “That old cuss claimed mullein leaves gave him yellow janders when he was 12.”  Earlie told us she would someday pass her medical knowledge on to her son, Bubba Earl.


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