Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Edmond Jones
1824 W. Second, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
"I growed up in the war. I remember seein' the soldiers--hundreds and
thousands of em. Oh, yes'm, I growed up in the war. I was born under
Abraham Lincoln's administration and then Grant.
"I remember when that old drum beat everbody had to be in bed at nine
o'clock. That was when they had martial law. Hays knocked that out you
know. That was when they had the Civil Rights Bill. I growed up in
"Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Freedom in January and I
was born in May so you might say I was born right into freedom.
"I always say I was born so close to slavery I could smell it, just
like you cookin' somethin' for dinner and I smelled it.
"I tell these young people I can look back to my boy days quick as
"Yes'm, I don't know anything bout slavery. My people say they come
from North Carolina, but I been right here on this spot of ground for
forty-four years. I come here when they was movin' the cemetery.
"My mother was a cook here for Mrs. Reynolds. After I growed up here I
went out to my father where he was workin' on the shares and stayed
there a year. I married quite young and bought a place out there. I
said I was twenty-one when I got the license but I wasn't but twenty.
"In old times everbody thought of the future and had all kinds of
things to eat. First prayer I was taught was the Lord's Prayer--'Give
us this day our daily bread.' I said sure was a long time bein'
answered cause now we're gettin' it--just our daily bread.
"I never had no luck farmin'--ever' time I farmed river overflowed. I
raised everthing I needed or I didn't have it. Had as high as thirty
head of cows at one time.
"I went to work as janitor at Merril School to take the regular
janitor's place for just two months and how long you reckon I stayed
there? Twenty years. Then I come here and sit down and haven't done
"The first school I went to was in the First Baptist Church on Pullen
Street. They had it there till they could put up a building.
"I went to nine different teachers and all of em was white. They was
sent here from the North. We studied McGuffy's reader and you stayed
with it till you learned it. I got it till today--in my head you
"Sure, Lord, I used to vote and hold ever' kind of office. Used to be
justice of the peace six years. I said I been in everthing but a bull
"I've traveled ever' place--Niagara Falls, Toronto, Canada. I been in
two World's Fairs and in several inaugurations. Professor Cheney says
I know more history than any the teachers at the college."
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