Anna Maria Island, November 13, 1986
Grandpa George and the bone felon
By Gib Bergquist
tale I enjoy telling concerns the great-grandfather of one of my boyhood friends.
Grandpa George homesteaded a large tract
of land near the present town of Mulberry. He drifted down from Georgia with his clan
around 1880. He was a rough and tough man who, with his wife, Granny Ida, their six sons
and four daughters, raised cattle on an open range and did a little
One day he woke up with a bone felon in his right
index finger. While this term is not widely used in modern medicine, it describes an
infection at the end of a finger or toe. It usually occurs near the nail and is very
Grampa George suffered through the first
day with the help of a little corn whisky, but the turpentine he was dipping his felon in
didnt seem to be helping. He suffered all through the night, and by the next
morning, the tip of his finger had enlarged to twice its normal size. Each heartbeat sent
a throbbing, excruciating pain pulsing through his finger and the homemade pain
killer was no longer effective.
The nearest doctor was fourteen miles
away by horseback at the county seat in Bartow.
Now Grandma Ida knew that the felon had
to be lanced before her George could get better, or worse yet, before gangrene set-in.
Id better explain that in Grandpa Georges household, and in Grandpa
Georges day, womenfolk were little more than full-time servants and childbearers.
They did not even sit at the table to eat until after the menfolk had eaten. In view of
the above, Granny Ida knew that her husband wouldnt let her near his felon . . .
much less lance it.
With much moaning and groaning, Grandpa
George took refuge on the back porch of their log home. A perfect picture of misery, he
leaned on the pump shelf with the elbow of his healthy arm. The one good hand cradled his
brow. His throbbing hand lay outstretched on the shelf.
All you farm folk will recall that the pump shelf is a
waist-high shelf built around the pitcher pump for convenience in pumping a basin or
bucket of water.
Concealing a wooden mallet, Granny Ida quietly slipped up to
the pump shelf. With one swift blow she smashed the end of his infected digit
effectively bursting the felon.
Grandpa Georges ear-piercing bloodcurdling
painter (panther) scream echoed through the piney woods.
Howling with pain, and near delirious from the corn whisky
pain-killer, Grandpa George furiously went for his shotgun. Granny Ida took off for the
cornfield where she took refuge for the next several hours playing cat-and-mouse
with Grandpa George among the tall corn rows.
By afternoon, Grandpa George had sobered up and his anger had
subsided. Miraculously, his pain was gone. All was forgiven and Granny was allowed to
return to the house in time to bandage his finger and set the biscuits to rise before
Her only remark was, a mans woman gotta do what
she gotta do.
From Cracker's Crumbs, ©1995 Gib Bergquist