A good letter about the Gypsies


Good story. When we were at Duke … 1955-57 … the King of the Gypsy Tribes in the West … U.S. and Canada … came to “Mr. Duke’s” Hospital to die.” As he was dying, the Gypsies gathered from near and far, filling the front lawns and the Duke Forest with tents and caravans. As you pointed out, they sharpened knives and tools, mended pots and pans, and made themselves useful to the community while they were there. When he died, it was amazing. You could hear the keening for miles. They did allow him to be taken to a funeral parlor, but they took his casket away with them. As you pointed out, one day they were there and the next day they were gone. Heaven only knows where he is buried. The day after they were gone, there wasn’t a trace that they had been there, except for some fire pits and flattened grass where the tents had been.

Docs and nurses who cared for him were treated very well. They converged on the cafeteria and ate … did they ever eat. No one argued whether they had the right or not. Hospital was paid … in cash … for his care. The women in their beautiful clothing were gathered in the hospital lobby to wait. I walked into the lobby one day with my dark-haired baby girl. The women gathered around me to hug and cuddle her, asking all kinds of questions … in impeccable English. They asked if my husband was a doctor. When I explained that he was still in training and they hugged me too. It was an amazing time.
Over the years, Bob has had several Gypsies as patients. They are good patients, with pertinent questions about care and medications. They always paid, and always returned when they were in the area. They have been loath to give up their traveling, but in todays world you will find them settled in areas where they are comfortable and welcome. I understand that some have been employed in high-rise buildings in eastern cities. They are a hard working people, devout in their religion, and very trustworthy … if people can forget the legendary tales of the past.
When my Grandmother was about 8 or 9-years old, she stole a neighbors burro and ran away to stay with the Gypsies when they were staying in Albuquerque for a brief time. One of the women let my Great-Grandmother know that she was with them and safe. My Great-Grandfather, the owner and editor of the local newspaper, argued to let her stay, saying that it would be good for her. Child and burro were returned when they left, but with tiny gold earrings in her ears. As “only ladies of the night” had pierced ears at the time, the earrings were removed, and she had to help the neighbor family in household chores for “borrowing” their burro. I remember her telling the story when I was a little girl, and wondering at the tiny dimples in her ear lobes.
Keep up your good stories. We look for them first on Sunday … after Pickles, of course! … Jean

One thought on “A good letter about the Gypsies

  1. What a great addendum to a wonderfully interesting article. Enjoyed reading both so much. Phyllis

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