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James Callow Folklore Archive

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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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THE DISEASE THAT WAS MOST DREADED BY MOTHERS WAS
SCARLET FEVER. I ONCE OVERHEARD MY MOTHER AND MY AUNT
TALKING ABOUT A FAMILY THAT HAD LOST FIVE CHILDREN
DURING ONE EPIDEMIC. THERE WERE ALL KINDS OF IDEAS ABOUT
HOW IT WAS SPREAD. MY AUNT TOLD MY MOTHER A STORY
ABOUT A MAN WHO HAD GONE TO NEW ORLEANS BEFORE THE
WAR AND BROUGHT BACK A FINE FRENCH DOLL FOR HIS LITTLE
GIRL. IT WAS HER FAVORITE THING IN ALL THE WORLD.
ABOUT A YEAR AFTER THAT SHE CAUGHT SCARLET FEVER AND
DIED. THE DOCTOR TOLD HER DADDY TO BURN EVERYTHING
THAT SHE HAD USED OR PLAYED WITH WHILE SHE WAS SICK
BUT HE COULD NOT BEAR TO BURN THE BEAUTIFUL DOLL THAT
SHE HAD LOVED SO MUCH. SO HE TOOK IT AND PUT IT IN A
ROSEWOOD CASKET AND PUT ROSE LEAVES ALL AROUND IT AND
PUT IT BACK IN THE FAR CORNER OF THE ATTIC. HE DIED
SOON AFTERWARD AND EVERYONE FORGOT ABOUT THE BEAUTIFUL
DOLL. ONE DAY HIS GRANDDAUGHTER-IN-LAW WAS RUMMAGING
IN THE ATTIC AND FOUND THE DOLL. NOBODY KNEW WHO HAD
PUT IT THERE. SHE TOOK THE DOLL AND GAVE IT TO HER
LITTLE GIRL. THE LITTLE GIRL BREATHED THE GERMS
THAT STILL CLUNG TO THE DOLL AND TOOK SCARLET FEVER
AND DIED. THEN AN OLD COUSIN REMEMBERED WHERE THE
DOLL HAD COME FROM AND SO THEY BURIED IT WITH THE
LITTLE GIRL SO THAT NOBODY ELSE WOULD CATCH THE
FEVER FROM IT.

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; WILLIAMSON CO

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Human Being

Date learned: 00001920 CA

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