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The Herb Lady

How It All Began


By: Nadine Johnson

One midnight in the early 1980s I was compelled to get out of bed and write what was on my mind. My writer’s pen has not been idle since.

I had made pepper jelly. The fumes from this endeavor were inhaled as well as coating my entire body. I was tingling all over. Both inside and out. I went to bed, but could not go to sleep. I got out of bed and wrote what was on my mind. Here is the story.

Richard and I were married in 1948. He was 21. I was 17. We weren’t dry behind the ears but we thought we were. He (a WWll veteran) was farming his Grandmother’s property. For some unknown reason his knees were hurting. He rubbed them well with Sloan’s Liniment. The pain subsided.

Another time his feet were hurting. Without hesitation, he rubbed them with Sloan’s Lliniment. It had worked on his knees and should relieve his feet (or so he thought).

After rubbing his feet he went out to plow with the mule. (Tractors were a rare thing on farms at that time.) About midmorning I saw him coming toward the house. He was leading old Ada (the mule), of course. They both looked like they were trying to keep their feet from touching the ground. His feet were literally on fire. We washed them well with Octagon Soap. One washing didn’t remove the liniment, therefore we washed them again. I don’t know how many times we washed them but actually this had worn off in about three days.

I never again heard Richard say, “My feet hurt.”

This was the first article that I had published. I took it to the editor of a small newspaper and asked, “Do you think anyone would want to print this?” She quickly answered, “I do.”

My writer’s pen has not been idle since. I asked my editor If I should stop writing since I’m almost 90 years old. She answered, “Heavens no! This is one of the most popular things we print. Don’t you dare stop.” I keep writing.

Liniments are not used today (that’s my thought about the matter) as they once were. I have a bottle of Sloan’s which I keep mostly for show and tell. I’m scheduled to speak to a large group in a few weeks. I hope I don’t forget to take my “show and tell” items.

Sloan’s Liniment is created from cayenne pepper. The same pepper we Southerners like to chop up on our field peas. Along with that, a green onion adds to the flavor. Now to make this a complete meal have a hot buttered chunk of corn pone.

My recently published book, “NADINE JOHNSON, THE HERB LADY” is available from Amazon. For an autographed copy send $20, made payable to Nadine Johnson, to my address and you will receive your copy in due time.

After reading this, I doubt there is anyone who doubts my Southern heritage. Something I’m very proud of.


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