When I first heard the story from my dear Sausage Von Trapp, I was awed; it was the stuff of legends, of Southern gothic tales and then some. Although not ENTIRELY a Hallowe’en per se post, you will nonetheless agree with me that this is definitely creepy. When you see what I've brought to show and tell, you will agree that this is the...
One Post to Rule Them All.
Sausage’s grandfather was a 5-year-old little boy back in the early 1900’s. There wasn’t this overwhelming obsession by the government and lawyers to protect its citizens; they were depended upon to use common sense ("horse sense" as my grandmother used to say, whatever that meant).
For ease, we shall refer to Sausage’s grandfather as Jim, and his older brother as John. Jim and John lived in the foothills of Tennessee at the turn of the century. One fateful day, John was showing Jim his new hatchet. (Before you stick your nose in the air at our ‘primitive’ ancestors, just remember that not too terribly long ago, in the 70’s, I had a chemistry set with real bad@$$ chemicals in it, a bow and arrow set with NO little rubber tips on the arrows, and a carving set in which one night I slipped and carved my hand with the curved blade requiring a trip to the emergency room and 16 stitches).
Of course, as 5 and 7- year-old boys do, there’s always going to be a game of chicken…John made the challenge: “Stick your finger down there on the chopping block and I’ll cut it off.” Jim stuck his hand down on the piece of wood; one was to never back down from a dare. John was sure that Jim would move his hand out of the way…Jim was sure that his own brother wouldn’t dare bring the hatchet down. Both trusted the other.
Both were wrong.
The hatchet went all the way down and Jim didn’t move. The next thing was probably a scream and a pool of crimson.
Both boys ran back to the house to their mother. Jim's hand was intact, but his finger dangled from a small sliver of muscle. The doctor was called and he came quickly in his horse and buggy. Upon examination, there were two options: the bone and muscle endings could indeed be sewn back together (but the severed nerve ending ensured that the finger would never work)...
he could amputate the finger.
A quick discussion and it was decided, amputation. A quick snip with short surgical scissors and it was all over.
But what of the finger?
What do you do with a severed limb?
My dear gentle readers, YOU DANG WELL SAVE IT!!!
(Remember, we here in the South still have Decoration Day in May; you go to church, then after service you decorate graves and have dinner in the cemetery, then a singing. Ever see “Crazy in Alabama” or “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”? Those aren’t movies about Southerners, those are documentaries! We Southerners invented gothic! If you don’t have at least one ghost or crazy person in the family, well, let’s just say that every good Southern family has some skeletons in their closet.)
Ahem, back to the story…
A small, unused jar of Listerine was found in the cupboard. (Yes, you read that right, Listerine. Basically at the time I think it was just this side of moonshine in terms of alcohol content). The finger was dropped in...
...and that was that.
Jim's mother couldn't bear to part with it. In later years Jim and his new bride became the keepers of the finger. It resided in the china cabinet, tucked back in the corner. But Jim had a request, a simple one: that his finger in the jar be buried with him when he passed on from this life to the next.
And when Jim did pass, and the wake was over, and the casket lowered into the cold earth, it was realized that the finger was still in the china cabinet…in the hustle and bustle and emotional stress of a death and burial, the grief-stricken family had forgotten to put the finger in the casket. After a bit of worry, there was nothing that could be done. Jim's wish could not be fulfilled; the finger would reside in the china cabinet until the passing of his wife in which the finger was then handed off to the daughter of Jim...to where it sits today in her china cabinet.
Jim was remembered lovingly and lived a life too short, but a joyful life indeed. His finger has graced several show-and-tell times in school, never failing to get an awestruck audience. It was and continues to be a conversation piece.
When I heard this story, I asked Sausage if her mother could take a picture of the finger and send it. I was delighted that she was gracious not only to take a picture but a great close-up picture! Please notice the details...the jar hasn’t been opened in over 90 years: and in it, the wrinkled, shriveled pink finger, complete with a little wart and
dirt under the
small fingernail. where it will probably be passed down again and again from generation to generation. Tennessee
CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE PICTURE PAGE