It#039;s a small world,

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

after all

Whether it was Walt Disney who wrote "It's a Small World After All" or those Coca-Cola folks, I'm not sure. But it's forever in my head.

I was humming that happy tune when I left the Barbour County High School Reunion last Saturday. I'm not a Yellow Jacket but I knew a whole lot of those folks buzzing around in the small world of South Alabama and I didn't feel like an outsider at all.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Among the familiar faces was a man who brought a lot of misery and a lot of relief to my young life, Dr. Stroud Jackson.

My mother thought the sun rose and set in Dr. Jackson. When she got sick, she headed straight to Clio. She said she didn't even have to see him. If she could just hear his voice, she would feel better. And that was a good thing. Because seeing Dr. Jackson was like getting an audience with the Queen of England.

Going to Dr. Jackson was an all-day and half-the-night affair and I would start pitching a fit as soon as Mama said we were going. I would rather have been thrown in the lions' den with Daniel than go to Dr. Jackson's. At least, I wouldn't have to wait around for the lions to do their thing.

Dr. Jackson's office was about as big as a pillbox and it would be packed with people of all sizes and shapes. Every woman over 50 dipped snuff and every man chewed plug tobacco and the stench made my stomach hurt.

Some folks sat and sulked. A few slept; but most engaged in endless, meaningless conversations about ailments, cures, crops,

young'uns and the weather.

Every now and then, Dr. Jackson's nurse, Ruth, would stick her head out the door, look around, then close the door and disappear. A few times, she would come out and whisper something to someone and maybe exchange a few pleasantries. If she ever called anybody back to see Dr. Jackson - even my mama - I don't remember it. I think folks just heard his voice and were cured. Or maybe they weren't really sick - just there

to socialize.

But whatever, for me, going to Dr. Jackson's was pure torture.

Sometimes, Mama would let me sit out in the car and read funny books or my favorite "going to the doctor" book, Toby Tyler. Toby was a little boy who ran away with the circus. I just kept hoping that the circus train would come by while I was waiting. I'd jump on and run away just like Toby Tyler and I'd never have to sit all day and half the night at the doctor's office in Clio again. I'd be swinging on a trapeze, walking the high wire and jumping tigers through flaming rings. Fun stuff. Not watching fat women spitting snuff and talking about their gall bladders and the gout.

Sometimes, Mama would let me stand outside where the men we smoking cigarettes and draw pictures on the sidewalk with rocks. But, the best thing was getting to walk down to the corner drug store and buy a short Co-cola and a bag of salted peanuts.

The worst of times at Dr. Jackson's was also the best of times.

Mama always bought a pig in the spring and fattened it for her Christmas money. Every night somebody - usually me - had to go to the pig pen and slop the hog. This one ol' pig was ugly and mean and I didn't want it rooting around me. So, instead of opening the latch and going in, I decided to climb the fence and pour the slop in the trough. I slipped on the way down and stuck a rusty nail deep into my leg.

That meant a tetnus shot and I didn't want that, so I just put turpentine on my leg and didn't tell Mama. After a few days, my leg was red, swollen and feverish and I didn't feel so good.

My friend Betty Kay said I'd probably have to have my leg cut off and I'd better tell Mama. That night I told her. She would have worn me out if I hadn't been in such bad shape.

She called Dr. Jackson and he said he would meet us at the office. All the way to Clio - 100 miles that night - all I could think of was that Dr. Jackson was going to cut my leg off. I couldn't figure out how I was going to pedal my bicycle or balance on Ol' Betty with only one leg.

Nobody was in Dr. Jackson's office that night. Not even Ruth. So, I got to go back.

Dr. Jackson got out a pair of tiny scissors and I asked if he was going to cut my leg off with those. He laughed and said that he wasn't going to cut my leg off at all. He told Mama that I was going to be fine and for her not to get a switch after me.

A few days later, I was fine, but I guess she didn't hear what he said about the whipping.

Seeing Dr. Jackson at the Barbour County High School reunion brought back a lot of memories . I'm sure a lot of memories were conjured up that day for, it is a small world,

even if you're not a Yellow Jacket.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached at