Sue’s burned hand
During the summer of 1937, Sue, Fred and Emma’s youngest daughter, was nine months old and just learning to walk. One “wash-day” Monday, a foot tub of boiling water was taken from the wood stove and momentarily set out on the porch of their house on Buck Shoals Road. Before anyone saw her and could get to her, Sue had toddled over to the tub and thrust her hand into the almost boiling water. The shock apparently paralyzed her reflexes, for she left her hand in the water, screaming all the while, until her mother ran and jerked her away.
Sue’s hand was discolored, swollen, and was a solid raised blister. She cried constantly, and nothing could be done to comfort her. Her hand was wrapped and she was held, and early the next morning she was taken to the office of Dr. George O. Moss in Cliffside. When her hand was unwrapped, much of the skin and tissue sloughed off, leaving only part of the muscle tissue attached to the tendons and bones. Dr. Moss at first felt the hand would have to be amputated, but sent for a doctor from the hospital for a second opinion. After this consultation, he advised Fred and Emma that he was willing to try to save the hand if they would bring Sue to his office every day to have the hand treated and dressed.
They had no car to take her to Cliffside each day, but Fred’s sister, Nell, and her husband, Roy Hill, lived on South Main Street, not far below the doctor’s office. They took Emma and Sue to stay at their house so they could go to the doctor’s office each day for the treatments. Emma and Sue stayed in Cliffside for about two weeks while Sue, who was in constant, excruciating pain, cried constantly. The only thing that distracted her at all was walking with her in their arms and talking to her. Roy’s sisters, Annie and Ada Hill, took turns with Nell, Roy, and Emma, walking around inside and outside their houses and up and down the streets of Cliffside, day or night, carrying her and talking to soothe her. Sue’s crying likely disturbed the sleep of many Cliffside residents, but they were sympathetic, and never complained.
Sue was able to keep her hand, but as it healed, scar tissue formed webbing between her fingers and gradually began to draw her hand closed. When the accident happened, all thought had been on saving the hand, rather than on how it might look later, or how much use she would have of it. As she grew older, however, the hand drew more and more into a fist. In 1949, when she was 13 years old, she was taken to the Shriner’s Burn Hospital in Greenville, S. C., where the scar tissue was cut away and replaced with skin grafts to give her a normal hand.
Sue grew up, married Charles McCraw, and had two children of her own. Today, she and Charles are retired from their oil distribution business and spend their time working around their home in the Cherokee Creek Community. Sue has total use of her hand, and one has to look closely to see the scars.