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Dan Thomas

From: Tennessee

941 Jefferson Street
Nashville, Tennessee

"I wuz bawn in slavery in 1847 at Memphis, Tennessee en mah marster
wuz Deacon Allays. Mah mammy wuz de cook at de big house. Mah mammy
d'ed soon atter I wuz bawn, en de Missis had me raised on a bottle.
Marster en Missis treatus all dere slaves kindly en plenty ter eat en
eve'y one wuz happy. I dunno nuthin 'bout mah daddy er whar he went. I
hab no kin in dis worl'. All I eber yeard wuz dat all mah folks kum
fum Africa. Mah Missis would tell me dat I mus' be good en mine en
eberbody will lak' you en ef she d'ed, dey would tek keer ob me. Dat
ez w'at dey hab don."

"I wuked 'round de house 'tel I wuz 'bout ten y'ars ole en de Marster
put me ter wuk in his big whiskey house. W'en I got 'bout 21 y'ars
ole, I would go out ter collect bills fum Marster's customers en hit
tuk me 'bout a week ter git all 'round. I wuzn't 'lowed ter tek money
but had ter git dere checks. I also wuked 18 y'ars as bar tender.
Marster en Mistress d'ed 'bout four y'ars 'fore whiskey went out ob de
United States. I stay wid dem 'til dey d'ed."

"Atter de Marster en Missis d'ed de doctor sezs I would hab ter leave
Memphis on 'count ob my health. I kum ter Nashville en got a job at de
"Powder Plant" durin' de Worl' War, en stayed dere 'til hit wuz ovuh.
I den gets wuk at Foster en Creighton in Nashville 'till dey tole me
dat I wuz too ole ter wuk. I makes mah livin' now by haulin' slop en
pickin' up things dat de white folks throw in dere trash pile en sum
ob hit I sell ter de papah en junk dealers. De white peeple he'p me
now also."

"I se'd dem sell a lot ob slaves in Mississippi, jes' lak hosses en
hogs, one time w'en de Marster en Mistress made a trip down dere. Lots
ob times dey made trips 'round de kuntry en dey allus tuk me 'long. I
se'd sum cru'l Marsters dat hitched up dere slaves ter plows en made
dem plow lak hosses en mules did."

"Atter de slaves got dere freedum, dey had ter look atter demselves,
so dey would wuk on plantations till dey got so dey could rent a
place, lak you rent houses en farms terday. Sum got places whar dey
wuk'd fer wages."

"I voted three times in mah life but lawdy dat wuz a long time ago. I
voted fer Teddy Roosevelt en Woodrow Wilson, en mah last vote wuz
'bout two y'ars pas'."

"Hab no tales handed down by mah peeple. W'en I would try ter git
info'mation, atter I got o'ler, all dey would say wuz, "You wuz raised
on a bottle en hab no peeple ob you own."

"Oh mah goodness! Hit jes par'lises me ter see how dem young peeple ez
doin' terday. Lawdy hab mercy but dere ez as much diff'ent fum ole
times as day en nite en hit looks lak things hab gone astray. Wuz tole
lots 'bout de Ku Klux Klan en how dey would catch en whup de cul'ed
peeple, but mah white folks made me stay in en dey neber got me."

"I member seein' Andrew Jackson, General Grant en Abraham Lincoln,
member seein' General Andrew Jackson git'in ready fer war by marchin'
his soldiers erroun'. I se'd 'im ride his big white hoss up en down
ter see how dey marched."

"One song I lack'd best ob all wuz, 'Mah ole Mammy ez De'd en Gon','
'Let me Sit B'neath de Willow Tree.' Don't member uther songs now."

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