Border Healing Woman

by Babb, Jewel; Pat Little Dog


Jewel Babb grew up in a way that was special even for a girl of her time. Her father and uncle were well-diggers by trade and they would set up a tent wherever they lived. The family, perhaps for religious reasons, didn't believe in the usual distractions. They didn't even tolerate playing cards. So young Jewel would entertain herself by walking the land wherever they were. In such a manner, she grew up very native. Much later, married and then widowed, she tried to sort out how she would take care of herself. Eventually she inherited an old hot springs with a dilapitated spa resort built around it. This site had been used by the natives of the region for healing for as far back as memory could serve. Jewel knew nothing of healing. But the reputation of the baths drew people in a steady stream. She allowed them access but initially did little more for them than point to where the pools were. Eventually she began to help them and to study reflexology. Curanderas from across the river in Mexico offered their knowledge to her as well. Over time her skills grew and became prodigious. By the end of her life she could heal people over a great distance by simply using her mind and spirit. Border Healing Woman is a unique narative of a woman who made the most of her situation and was surprised to find she had a true gift for learning healing. Pat Little-Dog interviewed Jewel over time and recorded as well Jewel's fustration at still living in poverty while treating a steady stream of patients (most had little or no money). There were spiritual experiences in her life, however, which offset this material poverty. Highly recommended reading.

This dry, harsh, spiny but heart-pulling country [of West Texas] is as much a part of this book as is Jewel Babb's non-conformist life. It gets off the highways . . . It is a strange and strong book about a strange and strong life.?Houston Post

The authentic voice of Mrs. Babb comes through on all the pages. . . . The book is a pleasure to read, not only for its evidence of little understood healing but because it gives a wonderful picture of life lived close to the bone. ?Cattleman

This is a classic statement of rugged individualism amidst the forces of nature, and it documents the growth of a strong but patient and wise woman. . . . a very important twentieth-century chronicle for Texas Studies. ?West Texas Historical Association Year Book

University of Texas Press, 170 pages
Available in softcover


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