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A woman by the name of Sheila P. was a good natured and curious person, who always delighted in venturing out into the great unknown. As a girl she loved to swim far out into the waters of the local lake, further than anyone had ever been known to go. To her the deep lake was a place of complete freedom and release from the gravity of the earth. Her sister, on the other hand, always caused a terrible fuss when she had to leave the house, especially when it came time to go to swimming lessons. She hated getting in the water. She would scream hideously and nearly broke her mother’s heart with her histrionics. Sheila, however, just found her to be an awful annoyance, always making them late to the lessons at the lake. To this day, Sheila cannot leave the house without thinking of her sister.

The family eventually took the girl to the Louisiana water witches, who were convinced to help when they heard the little girl’s pained screaming. The sorceresses made this water charm with an image of the girl and gave her soothing chants to help her overcome her water terrors.

Beverly Rayner,  Crybaby Charm, Museum of Mesmerism
Crybaby charm
American, c. 1940
Accession No. 2003-5-us
16” x 8” x 1.5”