the late 40s and early 50s, there was a Black lady named Mary (last
name unknown), that would arrive out in the countryside near Perry,
Texas and dispense some incredibly amazing medicine and conversation.
This would take place the 17th of each month. Her following, if you
prefer to call it that, was enormous. Each time I was there (possibly
some 20 times) I saw 75 to 100 people - with about 50 to 60 cars.
This was just a few yards off the highway out in a pasture.
Mary was on the heavy side, about 250 pounds, I would imagine. She
always sat at the base of a huge tree, I think Elm, and lean back
against it as the people approached her. She always had in her hands
a small crumpled up pad of paper and a very short lead pencil that
she scribbled on as she spoke to each person.
After each consultation she'd reach over into a big box of medicine
she kept next to her and pick up a brown colored bottle of medicine.
The brown glass bottles were each filled with some kind of liquid
that looked the same to me. After paying the $2.00, each client would
be given a bottle. Sometime Mary would engage the client in conversation,
and sometimes not. But if she was asked a question, she would scribble
on her pad and then speak a few words to them. People always seemed
to be happy with what they were told.
At times she would take time out to holler a few orders to some of
her kids. I was told that Mary had 23 children, and all were said
to be her and her husband's natural children.
One: Meeting Mary
My first exposure to Mary came through P. K. Brown, a Black man who
lived in a small house we had. P. K. worked for us year 'round. One
day P. K. asked my Dad a favor. He wanted Dad to take him and his
wife to see Mary. My Dad was a bit reluctant to grant this favor because
we were always quite busy. But because P. K. was a good man and had
been with us for a very long time, he finally agreed.
PK's wife was bedridden for many years. She lay on a flat board and
could not walk or take care of herself in any way. P. K. would bathe
and feed her and did whatever he could. To move Mrs. Brown, it involved
unbolting and removing the passenger side seat out of the old 1932
Model A. Mrs. Brown was then slided in on the board she always laid
on. This was a big event for the Browns, since they had never ridden
in a car before.
Upon arriving near the big tree, a lot of yelling could be heard.
It was Mary clearing people out of the way so my Dad could drive the
car up close enough to her that she could reach out and touch Mrs.
Brown in the car. After Mary looked at her, she scribbled a while
on her pad and then told her "you will be OK." She then handed her
a bottle of medicine and said "that will be two dollars." P.K. reached
out to give her the $2.00 but she would not take it from him, saying
"she's got give it to me", so P.K. gave the $2.00 to his Wife who
then handed it to Mary. We came back home and returned Mrs. Brown
to her house on her board as we found her.
P. K. was very happy and thankful. We went back to our house, and
that was kind of the end of the story for awhile.
Some weeks later, I can not recall how many, about 5 a.m. we were
awakened by someone banging on our door real hard and loud. When we
went to the door to see what all the noise was, it was P.K. He could
not talk, and he looked almost white. All he could do was motion with
his arms for us to come with him. We followed and as we crossed a
small creek where his house was, over to the side was Mrs. Brown chopping
weeds in their little garden.
Well, after this, my Dad decided he would go see 'Mary' and this is
how I became involved. My Dad swore she did him good, and he never
missed going to see her the 17th of each month thereafter.
Story Two: Mary
and the Water Well next page
I wrote these in an attempt to find others that may have known Mary.
If you too had a 'Mary' exposure, please send
me a note and tell me yours. - Toney Urban
Subject: Toney Urban
I'd like to thank Toney Urban for his wonderful writeup on Mary!!!
You did a great job, Toney. Just facinating. I wish I'd gotten to
meet her. Do you have any more stories? I'd love to read them. - Best,
Diane, Williamson county, Texas, March 16, 2006