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قراءة كتاب Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

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‏اللغة: English
Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

They couldn't find his meat because he kept it hidden in a hole in the ground. It was under the floor of the cabin.

"Old Myers made this young man rassle with him. The young fellow didn't want to rassle with him; he said Myers was too old. Myers wasn't my father; he was my mother's first husband. The young man threw him. Myers wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted to rassle again. The young man didn't want to rassle again. But Myers made him. And the second time, the young man threw him so hard that he broke his collar-bone. My mother was in a family way at the time. He lived about a week after that, and died before the baby was born.

"My mother's second husband was named Fred Williams, and he was my father. All this was in slavery times. I am his oldest child. He raised all his children and all his stepchildren too. He and my mother lived together for over forty years, until she was more than seventy. He was much younger than she was—just eighteen years old when he married her. And she was a woman with five children. But she was a real wife to him. Him and her would fight, too. She was jealous of him. Wouldn't be none of that with me. Honey, when you hit me once, I'm gone. Ain't no beatin' on me and then sleepin' in the same bed with you. But they fit and then they lived together right on. No matter what happened, his clean clothes were ready whenever he got ready to go out of the house—even if it was just to go to work. His meals were ready whenever he got ready to eat. They were happy together till she died.

"But when she died, he killed hisself courtin'. He was a young preacher. He died of pneumonia. He was visiting his daughter and got exposed to the weather and didn't take care of hisself.

"Right after the War, I was hired as a half-a-hand. After that I got larger and was hired as a whole hand, me and the oldest girl. I worked on one farm and then another for years. I married the first time when I was fifteen years old. That was almost right after slave time. Four couples of us were married at the same time. They lived close to me. I didn't want my husband to git in the bed with me when I married the first time. I didn't have no sense. I was a Christian girl.

"Frank Sampson was his name. It rained the day we married. I got my feet wet. My husband brought me home and then he turned 'round and went back to where the wedding was. They had a reception, and they danced and had a good time. Sampson could dance, too, but I didn't. A little before day, he come back and said to me—I was layin' in the middle of the bed—'Git over.' I called to mother and told her he wanted to git in the bed with me. She said, 'Well, let him git in. He's yo'r husband now.'

"Frank Sampson and me lived together about twenty years before he got killed, and then I married Andrew Jackson. He had children and grandchildren. I don't know what was the matter with old man Jackson. He was head deacon of the church. We only stayed together a year or more.

"I have been single ever since 1923, jus' bumming 'round white folks and tryin' to work for them and makin' them give me somethin' to eat. I ain't been tryin' to fin' no man. When I can't fin' no cookin' and washin' and ironin' to do, I used to farm. I can't farm now, and 'course I can't git no work to do to amount to nothin'. They say I'm too old to work.

"The Welfare helps me. Don't know what I'd do if it wasn't for them. I git some commodities too, but I don't git any wood. Some people says they pay house rent, but they never paid none of mine. I had to go to Marianna and git my application straight before I could git any help. They charged me half a dollar to fix out the application. The Welfare wanted to know how I got the money to pay for the application if I didn't have money to live on. I had to git it, and I had to git the money to go to Marianna, too. If I hadn't, I never would have got no help.

Husband's Death

"I told you my first husband got killed. The mule run away with his plow and throwed him a summerset. His head was where his heels should have been, he said, and the mule dragged him. His chest was crushed, and mashed. His face was cut and dirtied. He lived nine days and a half after he was hurt and couldn't eat one grain of rice. I never left his bedside 'cept to cook a little broth for him. That's all he would eat—just a little broth.

"He said to his friend, 'See this little woman of mine? I hate to leave her. She's just such a good little woman. She ain't got no business in this world without a husband.'

"And his friend said to him, 'Well, you might as well make up your mind you got to leave her, 'cause you goin' to do it.'

"He got hurt on Thursday and I couldn't git a doctor till Friday. Dr. Harper, the plantation doctor, had got his house burned and his hands hurt. So he couldn't come out to help us. Finally Dr. Hodges come. He come from Sunnyside, Mississippi, and he charge me fourteen dollars. He just made two trips and he didn't do nothin'.

"Bowls and pitchers were in style then. And I always kept a pitcher of clean water in the house. I looked up and there was a bunch of men comin' in the house. It was near dark then. They brought Sampson in and carried him to the bed and put him down. I said, 'What's the matter with Frank?' And they said, 'The mule drug him.' And they put him on the bed and went on out. I dipped a handkerchief in the water and wet it and put it in his mouth and took out great gobs of dust where the mule had drug him in the dirt. They didn't nobody help me with him then; I was there alone with him.

"I started to go for the doctor but he called me back and said it wasn't no use for me to go. Couldn't git the doctor then, and if I could, he'd charge too much and wouldn't be able to help him none nohow. So we wasn't able to git the doctor till the next day, and then it wasn't the plantation doctor. We had planted fifteen acres in cotton, and we had ordered five hundred pounds of meat for our winter supply and laid it up. But Frank never got to eat none of it. They sent three or four hands over to git their meals with me, and they et up all the meat and all the other supplies we had. I didn't want it. It wasn't no use to me when Frank was gone. After they paid the doctor's bill and took out for the supplies we was supposed to git, they handed me thirty-three dollars and thirty-five cents. That was all I got out of fifteen acres of cotton.


"I sew with rav'lin's. Here is some rav'lin's I use. I pull that out of tobacco sacks, flour sacks, anything, when I don't have the money to buy a spool of thread. I sew right on just as good with the rav'lin's as if it was thread. Tobacco sacks make the best rav'lin's. I got two bags full of tobacco sacks that I ain't unraveled yet. There is a man down town who saves them for me. When a man pulls out a sack he says, 'Save that sack for me, I got an old colored lady that makes thread out of tobacco sacks.' These is what he has give me. (She showed the interviewer a sack which had fully a gallon of little tobacco sacks in it—ed.)

"They didn't use rav'lin's in slave time. They spun the thread. Then they balled it. Then they twisted it, and then they sew with it. They didn't use rav'lin's then, but they used them right after the War.

"My mama used to say, 'Come here, Lugenia.' She and me would work together. She wanted me to reel for her. Ain't you never seen these reels? They turn like a spinning-wheel, but it is made indifferent. You turn till the thing pops, then you tie it; then it's ready to go to the loom. It is in hanks after it leaves the reel and it is pretty, too.

Present Condition

"I used to live in a four-room house. They charged me seven dollars and a half a month for