North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin

It felt like a weight fell off of her.

Papa asked Mama would she come back ‘cause the café wasn’t doing nothing, and she’d put all her money out, so she told Papa she’d come back home. And she come back, and, I don’t know, she seemed kind of puny and sickly. Papa said, “Well, a old man came here and he said he – Well, you come back just like the man said.” And she said, “What man?” And he said, “Well, somebody told me, said go out there and see somebody called a rootworker,” or, well, he didn’t call it rootwork, but see some person like that. And said maybe he could make her come back. And he said — well, I don’t know what he paid him, but anyway, he said he gave him stuff and told him to bore a hole in a tree on the north side and put that stuff in it and take and put a corkscrew in it. To make it stay in there. And for him to, I think he told me, for him to wet on it for nine mornings or something like that, and she would come back. Well, she come back, and she said, “Well, how come you didn’t take the mess out?” Well, he was arguing about it, saying something about it, and what I did, I got the ice pick. And went out there to – we had a peach tree and a apple tree. It was in the apple tree, and I went out there and looked around sure enough it was a corkscrew, great big one ‘bout like that there, stuck up in there, and I took that icepick and picked it out. And it come out this little trashy stuff in this cloth. And it was part of Mama’s underclothes. [We laugh.] And I think it come off – you know at that time they had a lot of lace and stuff — and one of them little pieces cut off where was the lace was up there, and he wrapped it up and put in that…. Least the man fixed it for him and told him how to bury it in the hole. And Mama, and I don’t know whether it was so or not, but she said when that stuff come out of that hole, felt like a weight fell off of her. I’ll never forget that thing. And the tree died. So, I said I don’t know whether it killed the tree, but it didn’t kill her. And Mama told me if that thing stayed there long enough [inaudible] in that mess, she’d a died.

For a scholarly in-depth study of hoodoo and root work, see Katrina Hazzard-Donald’s Mojo Workin’: The Old African American Hoodoo System.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.


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