2017-03-16 / Viewpoint

Something Else

Rootin’ for a living
Bette Jones (sdg)

Many years ago, my folks knew of a man, Mr. Allen, who lived between Canton and Athens, who had a strange occupation during winter months. He had lots of sassafras bushes growing in his fields and learned that he could dig out some of the roots, cut them into nine- or 10-inch lengths, bundle them and sell them at grocery stores. People liked to get the roots and boil them for a tea which tasted like root beer. This tea was believed to cleanse the blood and restore a person to good health. It was said to have been a tonic since American Indian days. And guess what? The US FDA banned the sale of sassafras root, though I believe it may still be sold in places, maybe online.

When my mother heard about the tea she decided to try it. There was a sassafras bush growing out in our field, so she dug some roots, cleaned them, and boiled them for tea. I suppose she decided it was more trouble than it was worth, since I don’t think she dug any more of the roots.

Mr. Allen once dug up a root that was more than 50 feet in length. A Dallas newspaper heard about him and interviewed him for a story. Mr. Allen told that he only dug the roots in cold weather, then when spring and summer came, he followed fruit harvest and wheat harvest. With warm weather coming in, Mr. Allen said that people stopped buying the roots.

As time went by, Mr. Allen decided to give up the business of digging the roots, because he had arthritis and couldn’t get any help. Also he stated that he would have to fill out a lot of forms (if he hired someone) and, “I wasn’t educated to fill out government forms.” He had been digging sassafras roots for tea drinkers for twenty years when he retired. When he was asked if a little sassafras tea might perk him up and put him in the mood for more digging, he replied, “I never drink tea of any kind.”

Now for a quote from John Bunyan: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Enjoy your day, and smile!

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