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Ann Matthews




From: Tennessee

INTERVIEW
ANN MATTHEWS
719 9th Ave. South
Nashville, Tennessee


"I wuz bawn in Murfreesboro on Stones River. I dunno how ole I ez en
hit meks me 'shamed ter tell peeple dat, but mah mammy would hit me in
de mouth w'en I'd ax how ole I wuz. She say I wuz jes' tryin' ter be
grown."

"Mah mammy's name wuz Frankie en mah daddy wuz Henry Ken Kannon. Don'
member much 'bout mah mammy 'cept she wuz a sho't fat Indian 'oman wid
a turrible tempah. She d'ed, durin' de war, wid black measles."

"Mah daddy wuz part Indian en couldn't talk plain. W'en he go ter de
store he'd hab ter put his han' on w'at he want ter buy. He d'ed eight
months 'fore de Centennial."

"Our marster en missis wuz Landon en Sweenie Ken Kannon. Dey wuz good
ter us, en we had'n good things ter eat."

"I member de Yankee en Southern soldiers. One day me en mah young
missis, en sum chilluns went up ter de road en we se'ed sum Yankee
soldiers kumin', I clum'ed on de fence, de urthurs run 'way en hid.
One ob de soldiers sezs ter me, 'Lettle girl who wuz dat wid you,' en
I sezs, 'Hit wuz Miss Puss en sum chilluns.' He laughed en sezs, 'You
ez brave ain' you?'"

"Our missis let us go ter chuch. I 'long ter de chuch ob Christ."

"I dunno ob but one slave dat got lan' er nothin' w'en freedum wuz
'clared. We didn't git nuthin at freedum. Mah daddy went back in de
woods en built us a saplin house en dobbed hit wid mud. Atter freedum
mah daddy went 'way, en we chilluns staid in dat house in de woods by
oursel's. Dere wuz two weeks we didn't see a bit ob bre'd. I went up
w'at ez called de nine mile cut neah Tullahoma, en axed a 'oman ef she
would let us hab sum bre'd. She gib me sum meat en bre'd, en tole me
ter kum back. I went back home en we et sump'in, en I went back ter de
'oman's house, she gib me a sack ob flour en a big piece ob midlin'
meat. We wuz skeered, bein' dere 'lone so I would set up wile mah
br'ers slep', den I'd sleep in de daytime. One nite sumbody knocked at
de do'er en hit wuz mah daddy en he had two sacks ob food, en de
urthur chilluns got up en we et a big meal."

"I useter 'yer de folks talk 'bout de sta'rs fallin', but dat happen'
'fore I wuz bawn."

"I didn't go ter schul, mah daddy wouldin' let me. Said he needed me
in de fiel wors den I needed schul. I wuz allus sassy en stubbun. I
run 'way fum mah daddy en kum ter Nashville. I stayed at a schul on
Franklin Pike, run by Mrs. McGathey. I wuz de only cul'ed person dere.
Dey wuz good ter me en eve'y Chrismus I would git a big box ob clothes
en things."

"In Manchester de Klu Klux Klan wore big high hats, red handkerchiefs
on dere faces en red covers on dere hosses. Dey tuk two niggers out ob
jail en hung dem ter a chestnut tree."

"One nite w'en I wuz gwine wid mah daddy fum de fiel' home, we met sum
ob de K.K.K. en dey said, 'Ain't you out late Henry? En who ez dat gal
wid you?' Mah daddy said, 'We ez gwine home fum wuk, en dis ez mah
daughter.' Dey said, 'Whar has she bin, we ain't nebber se'ed her.' He
told dem, 'I'd bin in Nashville.' Dey said dey'd be back dat nite but
we didn't see dem."

"W'en I wuz in Manchester I promus de Lawd I wouldin' dance. But one
nite I wuz on de ball floor, dancin' fum one end ob de room ter de
urthur en sump'in sezs go ter de do'er. I didn't go right den en 'gin
hit sezs you ez not keepin' yo promus. I went ter de do'er en you
could pick a pin off de groun' hit wuz so light. In de sky wuz de
prettiest thing you ebber se'ed, so many culors, blue, white, green,
red en yellow."

"Since freedum I'se wuked wid diff'ent peeple, cookin' en keepin'
house. I'se de mammy ob three chilluns. Two ob dem ez 'way fum 'yer,
en I live 'yer wid mah daughter."

"Old songs, I member ez:

Dark wuz de Nite.
I'll Live wid Gawd Forever, Bye en Bye.
Fum dis Earth I go, Oh Lawd, W'at Will 'kum ob Me."

"So yer wan't me ter tell you de truf? I think de young peeple ez
nothin'. Dey think dey ez smaht. Most ob de ex-slaves I'se knowed has
cooked en nussed, done laundry wuk; wuked in fiel's en diff'ent
things."

"I'se neber voted en hab neber paid any 'tention ter de niggers
gittin' ter vote. Don't hab any frens in political office. Can't
member any tales er signs."

"I don't b'leeve in dese mixed white and black families en hit
shouldn't be 'lowed."

"Durin' slavery de white folks didn't want de niggahs ter sing en
pray, but dey would turn a pot down en meet at de pot in de nite en
sing en pray en de white folks wouldn't 'yer dem."

"Ef a slave died de white folks wouldn't let nobody set up wid de body
'cept de niggers ob dat plantation, but urthur slaves would slip in
atter dark, set up en den slip back ter dere plantation 'fore day."

"W'en I useter go ter camp meetin' dey had big dinnahs en spread hit
on de groun'. Dey preached, sung, shouted en eve'ybody had a good
time."

"Fum de camp meetin's dey would go ter de wharf en baptize. Dey would
tie handkerchiefs 'roun dere haids. W'en dey wuz dipped under de water
sum ob dem would kum up shoutin'."


A TALE

One time de preacher wuz in de river fixin' ter baptize a man.
Eve'ybody wuz singin' ole time 'ligion. A 'oman sung, "I don' lak dat
thing 'hind you." Bout dat time de pahson en de udder man se'd an
alligator. De parson sezs, "No-By-God I Don't Either." He turned de
man loose en dey both run 'way.





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