Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Eliza Jones
610 E. Eighteenth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
"Yes ma'am, this is Eliza. I was born in slave times and I knowed how
to work good.
"You know I was grown in time of the War 'cause I married the first
year of freedom.
"Belonged to a widow named Edna Mitchell. That was in Tennessee near
Jackson. Oh Lawd, my missis was good to all her niggers--if you should
call 'em that.
"She had two men and three women. My mother was the cook. Let's
see--Sarah was one, Jane was two, and Eliza was three. (I was Eliza.)
Then there was Doc and Uncle Alf. I reckon he was our uncle. Anyway we
all called him Uncle Alf. He managed the business--he was the head man
and Doc was next. And Miss Edna raised us all to grown.
"Now I'm tellin' you right straight along. I try to tell the truth. I
forgits and I can't remember ever'thing like it ought to be but I hit
"Things is hard this year and I don't know how come. I guess it's
'cause folks is so wicked. They is livin' fast--black and white.
"How many chillun? Now, you'd be s'prised. I hardly ever tell folks
how many. I had fifteen; I was a good breeder. But they is all dead
but one, and they ain't doin' me no good. Never raised but two. Most
of 'em just died when they was born.
"I'd a been better off if I had stayed single a while longer and went
to school and learned how to read and write and figger. But I went to
another kind of a school.
"But I sure has been blest. I been here a long time, got a chile to
cook me a little bread--don't have to worry 'bout dat.
"I had to send clean back to where I j'ined the Metropolitan to get my
age. That was in Cairo, Illinois 'cause I'd lived there fifteen years.
But when my daughter and her husband come here and got settled, why I
come to finish it out.
"Yes ma'am, I sure have worked hard. I've plowed, split wood, and done
a little bit of ever'thing. But it was all done since freedom. In
slavery times I was a house girl. I tell you I was a heap better off a
slave than I was free.
"After freedom we had to go and get what we could get to do and work
"They used to talk 'bout ha'nts and squinch owls. Say it was a sign of
somebody dead. But I don't believe in that. 'Course what I don't
believe in somebody else does."
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