“When de Ku Kluxers come thoo’, us chillun thought de devil wuz atter us for sho’. I wuz sich a young chap I didn’t take in what dey said ’bout Mr. Abyham Lincoln, an’ Mr. Jeff Davis. Us would a been slaves ’til yit, if Mr. Lincoln hadn’t sot us free. Dey wuz bofe of ’em, good mens. I sho’ had ruther be free. Who wants a gun over ’em lak a prisoner? A pusson is better off dead.
“I jined de church ‘cause dis is a bad place at de bes’ an’ dere’s so many mean folkses, what’s out to seem good an’ ain’t. An’ if you serve God in de right way, I’se sho’ when you die he’ll give you a place to rest for evermore. An’ ‘cordin’ to my notion dat’s de way evvybody oughta live.”
In conclusion, Alec said: “I don’t want to talk no more. I’se disappointed, I thought sho’ you wuz one of dem pension ladies what come for to fetch me some money. I sho’ wish dey would come. Good-bye Miss.” Then he hobbled into the house.
[TR: Miss Maude Barragan (interviewer), Mrs. Leila Harris (editor)]
“If I ain’t a hunnard,” said Nancy, nodding her white-turbaned head, “I sho’ is close to it, ’cause I got a grandson 50 years old.”
Nancy’s silky white hair showed long and wavy under her headband. Her gingham dress was clean, and her wrinkled skin was a reddish-yellow color, showing a large proportion of Indian and white blood. Har eyes ware a faded blue.
“I speck I is mos’ white,” acknowledged Nancy, “but I ain’t never knowed who my father was. My mother was a dark color.”
The cottage faced the pine grove behind an old church. Pink ramblers grew everywhere, and the sandy yard was neatly kept. Nancy’s paralyzed granddaughter-in-law hovered in the doorway, her long smooth braids hanging over Indian-brown shoulders, a loose wrapper of dark blue denim flowing around her tall unsteady figure. She was eager to taka part in the conversation but hampered by a thick tongue induced, as Nancy put it, “by a bad sore throat she ain’t got over.”
Nancy’s recollections of plantation days were colored to a somber hue by overwork, childbearing, poor food and long working hours.
“Master was a hard taskmaster,” said Nancy. “My husband didn’t live on de same plantation where I was, de Jerrell places in Columbia County. He never did have nuthin’ to give me ‘cause he never got nuthin’. He had to come and ask my white folks for me. Dey had to carry passes everywhere dey went, if dey didn’t, dey’d git in trouble.
“I had to work hard, plow and go and split wood jus’ like a man. Sometimes dey whup me. Dey whup me bad, pull de cloes off down to de wais’—my master did it, our folks didn’ have overseer.
“We had to ask ’em to let us go to ohurch. Went to white folks church, ’tell de black folks get one of dere own. No’m I dunno how to read. Never had no schools at all, didn’ ’low us to pick up a piece paper and look at it.”