Since the early ’70’s, Alice has “drifted around” quite a bit. She and her husband are now too old and feeble to work. They live with one of their sons, and are objects of charity.
Jasper battle, Age 80 112 Berry St., Athens, Ga.
Grace McCune [HW: (White)]
Sarah H. Hall
John N. Booth
Federal Writers’ Project
Residencies 6 & 7
The shade of the large water oaks in Jasper’s yard was a welcome sight when the interviewer completed the long walk to the old Negro’s place in the sweltering heat of a sunny July afternoon. The old house appeared to be in good condition and the yard was clean and tidy. Jasper’s wife, Lula, came around the side of the house in answer to the call for Jasper. A large checked apron almost covered her blue dress and a clean white headcloth concealed her hair. Despite her advanced age, she seemed to be quite spry.
“Jus’ come back here whar I’se a-doin’ de white folks’ washin’,” she said. “Jasper’s done been powerful sick and I can’t leave him by hisself none. I brung him out here in de shade so I could watch him and ’tend to him whilst I wuks. Jasper stepped on a old plank what had two rusty nails in it, and both of ’em went up in his foot a fur ways. I done driv dem nails plumb up to dey haids in de north side of a tree and put jimpson weed poultices on Jasper’s foot, but it’s still powerful bad off.”
By this time we had arrived within sight and earshot of the old rocking chair where Jasper sat with his foot propped high in another chair. His chair had long ago been deprived of its rockers. The injured member appeared to be swollen and was covered with several layers of the jimpson weed leaves. The old man’s thin form was clothed in a faded blue shirt and old gray cotton trousers. His clothes were clean and his white hair was in marked contrast to his shining but wrinkled black face. He smiled when Lula explained the nature of the proposed interview. “‘Scuse me, Missy,” he apologized, “for not gittin’ up, ‘cause I jus’ can’t use dis old foot much, but you jus’ have a seat here in de shade and rest yourself.” Lula now excused herself, saying: “I jus’ got to hurry and git de white folks’ clothes washed and dried ’fore it rains,” and she resumed her work in the shade of another huge tree where a fire was burning brightly under her washpot and a row of sud-filled tubs occupied a long bench.
“Lula, she has to wuk all de time,” Jasper explained, “and she don’t never have time to listen to me talk. I’se powerful glad somebody is willin’ to stop long enough to pay some heed whilst I talks ’bout somepin. Dem days ’fore de war was good old days, ’specially for de colored folks. I know, ’cause my Mammy done told me so. You see I was mighty little