IKE DERRICOTTE, Age 78 554 Hancock Avenue Athens, Georgia
Miss Grace McCune
Mrs. Sarah H. Hall
John N. Booth
Federal Writers’ Project
Residencies 6 & 7
August 19, 1938
[TR: One page of this interview was repeated in typescript; where there was a discrepancy, the clearer version was used.]
Ike Derricotte’s brown-painted, frame bungalow, well back from the street, faces a wide grassy yard where tall pecan trees provide summer shade and winter nuts.
A mulatto woman answered the knock at the front door. Her long, straight, white hair was neatly arranged in a low-pinned coil at the back of her head. Her print frock and white shoes were immaculate. “Yes Mam, Ike is at home,” was the answer to the inquiry for her husband. “Jus’ have a seat on de porch here ’cause it’s so much cooler dan inside de house, and I’ll call Ike. He’s jus’ piddlin’ ’round de back yard dis mornin’.”
Almost at once a tall, well-built man of gingercake color appeared. He wore an old black cap, blue work shirt, blue wool trousers, and black shoes. “Howdy-do, Miss! Did you want to see me?” was his greeting. His eyes sparkled when he learned that we wished to record the story of his life. “Yes Mam, I’ll be glad to tell you what I kin,” he promised, “and Miss, I’ll jus’ bet I kin tell you somepin dat very few folks kin say ’bout dem old days. I was born right here on dis same street, and I’m still livin’ on it, but dis house and lot ain’t my birthplace. When I was born, dis section was mostly in woods. Jus’ look at it now; houses has been built up and down both sides of what was den jus’ de big road. Times has changed in lots of ways since dem days.
“My mother’s name was Myra, and she was a laundry ’oman owned by Mr. Stevens Thomas. Mr. Thomas was one of de biggest merchants in Athens dem days. He owned de square between Thomas Street and Wall Street, and it s’tended back to Clayton Street.
“William Derricotte was my father, and he belonged to Col. Robert Thomas. My father spent most of his time beautifyin’ de yards ’round de big house, and in dese days and times he would be called a landscape gardener. Dey jus’ called ’em yard boys den. Atter Pa and Ma was married, Marster Stevens sold Ma to Marster Robert, so dat dey could be together. Mr. Robert Thomas’ place was right up dis same old street, whar de Y.W.C.A. is now, and right dar is whar I was born. Dat was in 1860, a long time ago; and lots of things has happened since den. Lots of people has moved away and lots more has died out, ’til dere ain’t many of de folks left here dat lived in Athens den. De Thomases, Dorseys, and Phinizys was some of de oldest families here.