Collected by Jo Ann Rife
Transcribed by James Lee
Conversation Between Jo Ann
Rife and Mrs Lillian B. Sears
Elm Springs, Arkansas
December 29, 1955
Reel 237 Item 9
JAR: Well, talking about rather scary things, or things like
that, you told me once about how you used to sit up with
dead people. Tell me about that.
LBS: Well, I did more of that when I was sixteen years old
than I ever have since, because people now are taken
to the hospital and have nurses in the home and all,
but in those days you just took care of your own and
your neighbors. And about that time I remember one
night I sat up with the Methodists preacher's wife's
mother, add I thought sure she was going to die— she
had pneumonia— she was old, and the other women were
worn out and I sat there with her just sixteen years
old and took care of her and helped her and helped her
up and down if she had to get up and down through the
night; however she did not die then; she died later,
then there was another case I rmemeber— old lady Braswell.
She was just dying all night, and the group of
women were there— I was just a young woman— she
finally died, or so we thought, and her children were
weeping around her bed. And all at once the old woman
rose right straight up in her bed and opened her eyes,
and looked at us all, but she did fall back dead; she
was dead then. And we always had to lay them out and
took all the beds down— took everything out of the room,
and fixed a cot and covered it with a white sheet and
put boards on it so we could lay the corpse straight.
And then we began to put soda cloths— strong with soda—
on their faces, and everybody set up with the dead.
JAR: Well, what was that that you told me about the cat that
LBS: Well, I was just about sixteen or seventeen at the time,
and one lady got quite talkative , and about that time
there was a cat jumped in— it was very hot weather—
into one of the windows, and she said,"Yes, theyve come
for the corpse; I have seen the time you would have to
fight them away." I didn't go to sleep that night.
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