To the editors:
My daughter is a student at the Univ. of Wisconsin (Madison) and sent me your article on the Placenta (afterbirth) [The Straight Dope, April 15] so I thought I would write you on what I saw, this was eight years ago.
I am an herbalist--this pregnant lady had a midwife to come in and deliver her child and wanted me to stay as I had been helping her with herbs to build up her body as she had two miscarriages before.
The baby was delivered, a boy 11 pounds 9 oz. the placenta was put on a table and I measured it, weight 1 lb 5 oz, one and three-sixteenths thick at the center and 8 inches in diameter. The husband ask me if I had finished with it and I told him yes, he took it to the sink and washed it in cold water, then went to the refrigerator and took out an oblong pan of blood that had congealed, poured some Mogen David wine on it, chopped up the placenta and put it on top with garlic and tops of green onions, stirred up this mess, I ask him what kind of blood it was he said it was sheep blood, then he put it in the oven whose gauge said it was set on 300 degrees. I went back to check up on his wife. I was gone about 15 min, it stayed in the oven about 45 min, he brought it out and I got a whiff of it and broke for the door, stayed out there for about a half hour, then came back in, it was on the table (he said cooling) I couldn't leave now I wanted to see what was next, when it was cool (about 3 hrs later) he put it in his freezer for about 2 hrs, then he took it out it was like jello, I looked at the door to make sure there wasn't any one in my way. About 8 that evening people started coming in, they brought home-made wine in jugs, fruit jars. Then all the men got around the table about 10 feet long, he brought out this mess cut it in squares, each man had a saucer, they said a prayer of some kind poured the wine and ate this mess, I ran around the house again. He didn't I offer me any, I ask him why, he said that it was for the blood relatives, male, on the father's side. Since this was his firstborn and a son. He said had it been a girl I could have partaken of this feast.
I was married then and my mother-in-law said I should have rubbed some on my head before it was cooked and I might start the hair growing again. I couldn't say anything to her that came to mind as my wife was sitting there also.
Thanks for your article it brought back old memories.
Jerome Oates Sr.