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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about Slave Narratives.

“Atter all, Athens is a good place to live in.  Here us has de best neighbors in de world; dey’s allus ready to look atter one another in times of sickness and trouble.  Wid de kind of good, Christian folks dat lives here, Athens is bound to go ahead.”

PLANTATION LIFE

BENNY DILLARD, Age 80
Cor.  Broad and Derby Streets
Athens, Ga.

Written by: 
Grace McCune [HW:  (white)]
Athens

Edited by:  Sarah H. Hall
Athens

and
John N. Booth
District Supervisor
Federal Writers’ Project
Residencies 6 & 7
Augusta, Ga.

Benny’s rocky little yard is gay with flowers and a flourishing rose vine shades the small porch at the front of his ramshackle two-room cabin.  The old Negro was busily engaged at washing his clothes.  He is of medium size, darker than gingerbread in color, and his clothing on this day consisted of a faded blue shirt, pants adorned with many patches, and brogans.  A frayed sun hat covered the gray hair that is “gittin’ mighty thin on de top of my haid.”

Benny was singing as he worked and his quavering old voice kept tune and rhythm to a remarkable degree as he carefully and distinctly pronounced: 

  “Jesus will fix it for you,
   Just let Him have His way
   He knows just how to do,
   Jesus will fix it for you.”

Almost in the same breath he began another song: 

  “All my sisters gone,
   Mammy and Daddy too
   Whar would I be if it warn’t
   For my Lord and Marster.”

About this time he looked up and saw his visitor.  Off came the old sun hat as he said:  “‘Scuse me, Missy, I didn’t know nobody was listenin’ to dem old songs.  I loves to sing ’em when I gits lonesome and blue.  But won’t you come up on my porch and have a cheer in de shade?  Dere’s a good breeze on dat little porch.”  Having placed a chair for the visitor and made himself comfortable on a crude bench, Benny began his story: 

“Missy, de good Lord gives and he takes away, and us old darkies is a-passin’ out of dis world.  Dat was why I was a-singin’.  One of my bestest friends done passed on to Glory dis very mornin’.  I knows I’se goin’ to miss old Randal Clayton ’cause both of us warn’t no good but for to set and talk ’bout old times.”  Tears rolled down his face as he told of his friend, and the visitor, fearful that he was too much overcome by grief to be able to give a good story, suggested that another engagement be made to record his reminiscences, but he objected.  “Lawsy, Missy!” he protested.  “Please don’t go now, for dem old times is on my mind today and I would so love to talk ’bout ’em now, if you don’t mind.  If I talks too much, jus’ tell me, ’cause I’se mighty apt to do dat when onct I gits started.

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