True Story about the Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan
by Ella Jackson Lewis (August 23,
By Rudolph Lewis
Your daddy was sick. I got the heater cherry red. Still he
felt cold. Sweat falling off him big as the digit of the little
finger. The quilts or no amount of cover could keep him warm. I
was worried but I didn't let on. I knew the good Lord would have
That night his brother Arthur came by. William had got
worse rather than better. Arthur too had got some worried about
"Ella," Arthur asked, "do you mind if we
took him to a man down in Carolina. A man named Jim Jordan."
[People say, "JimJerden," as if it were one name.] I
looked hard at Arthur and then William and he looked like he
wasn't going to get any better.
I was near making a decision when Arthur added, "The
people Over-the-River swear by him." That's the river they
call Nottoway. I heard people speak of Jim Jordan, who hadn't. I
found out he was Clarence Carter's grandfather; Elsie Carter's
daddy. Clarence was my son-in-law, as you know, your Aunt Susie's
husband. People were quite envious of Jim Jordan's fortune, but I
think more frightened of him than not.
I got my coat and we gathered William up. We went way down
into Carolina, past Scottlesneck, where Papa was born and raised.
Maybe about 130 miles from Jarratt. We drove through forests of
countryside and then towns and then more countryside. Until we
finally come to Jim Jordan's house, way out in the middle of
nowhere, in the dark night. When
we pulled into his yard, it was just about daybreak.
We knocked and Jim Jordan opened the door. He was a big
man, a coal black man in bib overalls. Arthur told him we come
from Virginia and we needed help.
We entered a room that a table had been set with fried
chicken and fish. Three women and two men were standing at the
table. I was hungry 'cause we had drove all that way and hadn't
ate. We passed by the food and they didn't ask us to have any of
that food that looked so good to me.
We passed into a room that was dirty. Well, it was not
really dirty. It was junky. Papers, books, boxes all over the
place. Jim Jordan invited us to sit. We began to move papers and
other things from the chairs. But he said never the mind,
"Sit." And we did.
I and Arthur looked at each other and then to William. Then
to Jim Jordan, who looking hard at William, says, "Who's
these people with you?" And William tells him we was his wife
"So what's your ailment?" says Jim Jordan,
looking at William. And William tells him that he's been to the
doctors and the doctor's medicine done made him worse. And that he
couldn't keep warm.
Jim Jordan didnít say nothing. He looked through the
shadows in the room. All around as if heíd misplaced some item,
and then he spoke again. "It's good you come see me when you
did. In three days you'd been dead. You've got the wrong notion if
you think you been conjured. There ainít no conjure about you.
You been poisoned."
Jim Jordan then reached in a big box and pulled out a
crystal ball about so big [the size of a medicine ball] and hung
it on a hook. He sat near it and then took hold of the spinning
white globe. He held it before us and told us to look.
Plain as day, I saw our field in back of the house. It was
empty, except for William's plow. Then someone comes into the
picture and smears something on the plow handles. And then I saw
the man's face. It was William Moore.
"This is the man that poisoned you. You see how he
done it. Do you know this man?" And William nodded he did.
We all knew the man. William Moore lived within a mile of
us on Jerusalem Church Road. Your daddy and William had a fuss
'cause William Moore didnít paid for corn your daddy had sold
Jim Jordan put the crystal ball back in its box. But he was
not finished with us. He pulled a smaller ball out of a box and
hung it on the hook as before. Again, he stopped the ball's spin.
A face was in the ball. It was Rebecca Parker, plain as
day. I could see her as if she sat here before me. Jim Jordan says
to William, "Do you know this woman?" William cutting
his eyes quickly toward me, nodded yes he did.
"She your wife?" And William slowly shook his
head and muttered no. "This is my wife," turned to me
slightly and placed his hand lightly on my knee and took it away.
"But you spend time with this woman. You got a good
wife here, smart, a hard worker. You ought to treat her better
than that. You done worked yourself into a mess by what you been
up to. This woman spread a white powder under the mat of your
truck on the driver's side. Get your brother to take it away.
Leave not a drop of it under the rug."
To rid William of the poison in his body, Jim Jordan gave
him a bottle filled with a brown liquid, milky brown. A bottle
about so high, over a pint. And William had to take it for four
days. Then he was to come back to Carolina.
And so we went on back up to Jarratt in silence. Arthur
found the powder under the truck mat. Swept it out. And did like
Jim Jordan told him, he took the white powder down the woods and
poured it into a flowing stream.
Mama and Daddy and
their son-in-law Samuel "Busta" Rivers
Later Arthur and I talked. He asked me about what I had
seen and heard. And asked me what was I going to do, to say to
William. I knew there was nothing to do but pray and hope for the
best. Your daddy wasn't gone allow what he had been doing was
wrong. At least not to me.
"Ain't no need to ask a man what he been doing,"
Mama told me long time ago. "Ain't no need to go on with your
husband about where he been and what he been doing. I knew your
Papa was going to tell a lie."
So I took my
mama's advice to heart.
When I worked at Jarratt Motel as a cook, I got home around
10 o'clock. Times were when I came in William would have just got
home or he'd come in just after I got there. Or we'd come in at
the same time. It was plain he'd left work, come home, put on his
sweet-water pants and his Sunday shoes and went out.
I put Mama's advice to work. I stopped saying anything to
him about his comings and goings. And he didnít say anything: he
just came and went as he please. And so I just stopped fussing
about it. Said nothing. And he began to wonder what was going on.
He couldn't read my mind. After a while he changed that routine.
William took Jim Jordan's potion. And he threw up again and
again. That poison was coming out of his body. It was like a green
liquid spewing, oozing from the earth, wracking his body. I
thought that potion was killing my husband. But he got better. God
was good. After a while that medicine it stayed down.
That Saturday, we went back to Jordanís place in
Carolina. I think the town was called Como.
"You feel better? I see you look better," says
Jim Jordan with his hand on Williamís shoulder. William said
that he was, though a little weak. He said he'd be okay if he
could keep some food down.
Jim Jordan gave William another potion, brownish like a
cola. And it had little tiny bits of roots in the bottom of the
bottle. We both were told to take the potion.
"You won't have to worry about this poison ever again.
You can roll in it, sleep on it, eat it and it will have no effect
on you." I took the potion.
"Two people going to visit you soon." Jim Jordan
told us. "If they ask for pin or beans, don't give it to
them. Keep a careful watch while they are there. Do not let them
out of your sight."
Sure enough, the next day William and Rosa Moore came to
visit William. One sat at the foot of the bed and one at the head
of the bed. After a while William Moore got up and went to the
back door. And Clarence was there. And then he went to the front
door and somebody was there.
So you see, he couldn't do his business. William Moore
wished your daddy well and said he knew heíd be on his feet
soon. He didn't explain how he knowed that. He and Rosa got on out
of here. And they never came back or tried any other foolishness.
I'll tell you how else I know that Jim Jordan's ball was
right. A friend told me that Rebecca was going to have a party at
my house. I ain't knowed nothing about that.
So I asked your daddy, "William, I understand you and
Rebecca have planned a party. Why didn't I know about this. I'm
the one who got to clean up. I'm the boss of the house.
You's the boss of the outdoors. And I say, ain't no party
going to be here."
He hemmed and hawed. But he knew I meant what I said. So he
and Rebecca went about from house to house peddling barbecue.
What's that you say? No ain't nothing like that's ever gone on
with me. Your daddy lied if he said he took me to a root doctor
down in Carolina for a tumor. I've been to no root man nor conjure
man for no kind of ailment.
I bethcha he didn't tell you he had gone hisself to Jim
Jordan 'cause he was poisoned. It's true I did have a tumor. I
went to a colored doctor out in Emporia. I can't right remember
his name right now. But it wasn't Cartwright. Well, anyway, he
said I either had a tumor or was pregnant. I knew I wasn't
As it happened, I was listening to a religious program on
radio. The preacher says to put your right hand on the radio. He
was going to pray for people's ailments. And I placed my hand on
the radio and my right hand on my side. I heard the tumor when it
popped, like a May pop.
When I went back to Emporia to see the doctor, the swelling
had gone down. All that was left was a darkening of the skin where
the tumor had been. And the doctor asked who had done the surgery.
I told him I had no surgery. I told him of my praying. I told him
if there was a doctor it was Dr. Jesus.
"Conjuring & Doctoring" was published first
in The New Laurel Review, Volume 21 (Anthology 1999). Editor Lee
Meitzen Grue. Journal address: 828 Lesseps Street, New Orleans, LA 70117.
* * *
* * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mannís previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. Itís exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that itís
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, Iím
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
ďsouthern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.Ē We learn how
the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar
cane have disrupted and convulsed the
planet and will continue to do so until
we are finally living on one integrated
or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of
all this remarkable change will survive
the process they helped to initiate more
than five hundred years ago remains,
Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammyís behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folksí domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own familyís needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Boisí
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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