"Better I Stay", a book by Margorie Chalmers

Marjorie Chalmers first came to Gatlinburg in 1935, where she devoted 30 years of service and dedication as a community and Pi Beta Phi settlement school nurse. Her book, "Better I Stay," reflects a wealth of personal experiences during her service in the Smokies. 

The following is an excerpt from Marjorie's book that shares some of her amazing experiences as a care-giver in the Smoky Mountains: 

 "Of all our busy days, perhaps the most interesting are those of a Well Baby Clinic in the out-lying districts. Visiting is done days in advance to get the word back in the hills and 'hollers'. The place is selected - a school or church being about the most central. A bench or table is placed where the examining is to be done. The platform scales and measure are arranged conveniently and the family folders with the record of each child laid close at hand. 

Should the day be warm and the shade inviting, the clinic may be held out of doors under the trees, and the affair takes on even more of a social aspect. Old and young turn out for the event, and they may come a 'fur piece' for the service or just to watch.

Life seems to be set at a slower pace in the hills, and folk take time to savor the day's happenings and to be friendly. Babies seem to like being weighed in the baby scales set up in the trunk of the car, with the blue sky overhead and the laughter of children mingling with the songs of the birds.

Amid good-natured chaffing, a line forms for the 'shots' so much a feature of these gatherings. "Hit'll shore kill ye if-n ye take hit, but hit's a sight better than airy dost of the fever." "Ketch a'holt to Crockett. He's apt to throw a dog-fit when the needle strikes in." "Hit's like buying a pig in a poke. Never know if-n hit's agoin' to get sore." "Wal, if that ain't the beatin'est. I never felt a thing."

It has been most interesting to hear about the old time remedies and potions of long ago. Some folk were born, lived a full life and died without ever going to a doctor. A woman, and a man as well, in the old days had to have a practical knowledge of treating many sorts of accidents and illnesses.

"Granny-women" were deft in nursing the sick ad birthing new babies, and some were wiser than others about herbs. Many a kitchen garden had a little corner of 'yarbs', and most houses had bunches of them hanging from the rafters to dry.

 When there were older women in the nursing classes, it was good to invite discussion about olden ways and to compare them with modern methods. They were, at times, mines of information, and when they realized we marveled at their wisdom and ingenuity, they told many a tale.

It was a thrill for all to learn that scientists were using the same plants refined and regulated, that their grandparents used in teas and compresses and salves. One article received more than usual attention, for they were interested to learn that researchers were tying to find out why onion's volitil oil was efficient in the treatment of respiratory diseases, and the 'onion poltice' that was so universally used in the early days for 'pneumony-fever' had more to recommend than it's potent smell. 

There were teas and potions and wines and salves of countless varieties Some were good and some were not. Undoubtedly many a 'yarb-doctor's 'mistake has been buried in the family burial plot. But many who were so dosed lived, when they might have died without the home remedies used.'

"BETTER I STAY" by Marjorie Chalmers may be purchased at Terri Waters Gallery.