Wednesday, February 18, 2009

As Promised

I cannot say if this is the truth or just family lore. It happened in the 1920's, way before my time. All I can say is I have heard this story many times as I was growing up and no matter who told it, it was always the same, so I am inclined to believe that my family believes it happened. So here goes. This is the story of how my aunt went blind and was cured, otherwise known as the day my great-grandma was arrested for attempted murder.

My grandma was a little girl growing up in the hills of Pennsylvania. She was a first generation American girl born to Polish parents. Her parents had come over from Poland, bought a large house and taken in boarders, coal miners mostly, and made a fortune as that was boom time for Pa and the coal industry. She had two sisters and they enjoyed a fairly easy life.

But they were from another time and their parents were from another place, a place where old jealousies ran deep and followed them into this new land. The three sisters were well-known, especially because they were considered very beautiful and always had nicer clothing than the other coal miner children.

One day my grandma's older sister, Molly, woke up unable to see. She had been struck blind without any warning. My great-grandmother was frantic. She took her to see the most respectable doctors in all the state, the finest money could afford. All of the most new-fangled tests were run and universities were consulted to try to figure out why this young girl could not see. There was no medical reason for her blindness. The family was beside themselves with sadness. This was a time when blindness was a life sentence and blind children were sent away to special institutions.

Finally, Great-grandma broke down and consulted the local witch/midwife. She was a very powerful and feared figure in the community and had come from the "old world." She took one look at my aunt Molly and said a curse had been placed on the child. To prove it she asked for Molly's pillow. When Molly's pillow was brought to her, she tore it open and there inside, the feathers had been woven into a pattern that resembled the crown of thorns. The family was astonished. No one knew how the feathers had gotten that way. The witch took the feathers apart, said some words over Molly and her blindness was gone as suddenly as it had come on. The witch took her payment and told my Great-grandma not to let the next woman with dark-long-hair into the house, for she was the one who had cast the curse.

The witch left and my family was celebrating when a knock was heard at the door. My Great-Grandma opened it and there was her mother-in-law, a dark-haired woman whose hair reached down to her waist. Apparently my Great-grandma let out an ear-piercing screech, raced into the kitchen and reached for a butcher knife and proceeded to try to kill her mother-in-law. The MIL ran off and never set foot in the house again. My Great-grandma was arrested but let go a short while later (wealth went a long way back then) and my aunt went on to be a nurse who just happened to buy a house next to Jack Klugman in California. No one knows for sure if the MIL set a curse or why, but there was talk about a lot of jealousy over having her only son marry my Great-grandma and inappropriate relationships.

So, that is the story. Believe it or not.

6 comments:

Jeannie said...

Crazy! I almost didn't leave a comment as I thought it was someone else's blog who doesn't need to read my comments. Not that you do either.

My Grandmother used to read fortunes but I don't have any great stories about it.

Bubblewench said...

Now that's a great story. There is something to be said for the 'old timers' if you as me!

Amy said...

Fascinating!

Wide Lawns said...

Wow! I love it. Those are my favorite kinds of stories.

FreeDragon said...

Cool.

Green said...

That's a really good story right there. My great-grandma is from Poland/Russia too.