204 5th Ave. So.
"I wuz bawn in Smith County on uther side ob Lebanon. Ah'll be 85
y'ars ole Christmas Day.
Mah ole Missis wuz named Sallie, en mah Marster wuz George Waters. Mah
mammy's name wuz Lucindia, she wuz sold fum me w'en I wuz six weeks
ole, en mah Missis raised me. I allus slept wid her. Mah Missis wuz
good ter me, but (her son) mah Marster whup'd me.
Dunno ob any ex-slaves votin' er holdin' office ob any kin.
I member de Ku Klux Klan en Pat-a-rollers. Dey would kum 'roun en whup
de niggers wid a bull whup. Ef'n dey met a niggah on de road dey'd
say, "Whar ez you gwin dis time ob mawnin'?" De slaves would say, "We
ez gwine ovuh 'yer ter stay aw'ile," en den dey would start beatin'
dem. I'se stod in our do'er en 'yeard de hahd licks, en screams ob de
ones dat wuz bein' whup'd, en I'd tell mah Missis, "Listen ter dat!"
She would say, "See, dat ez w'at will happen ter you ef'n you try ter
leave." I member one nite a Ku Klux Klan rode up ter our do'er. I tole
mah Missis sum body wuz at de do'er wantin' ter know whar mah Marster
wuz. She tole 'im he wuz d'ed en her son had gon' 'way dat mawnin'. He
hunted all thro de house, en up in de loft, en said whar ez de
niggers? Mah Missis tole i'm [TR: 'im] dey wuz down in de lettle
house. He went down dere, woke dem up, axed dem 'bout dere Marster en
den whup'd all ob dem. Ef de had de Ku Klux Klan now dere wouldin' be
so menny peeples on de kounty road en in de pen.
I useter drive up de cows en mah feet would be so cole en mah toes
cracked open en bleedin', en I'd be cryin' 'til I got almos' ter de
house den I'd wipe mah eyes on de bottom ob mah dress, so de Marster
wouldin' know dat I had bin cryin'. He'd say, "Frankie ain't you
cryin'?" I'd say, "No suh." "Ez you cole?" "Yes, sir." He would say
kum on en warm.
W'en de niggers wuz freed, all ob mah Missis slaves slipped 'way,
'cept me. One mawnin' she tole me ter go down en wake dem up, I went
down en knocked, no body said nuthin'. I pushed on de do'er--hit kum
op'n--en I fell in de room en hurt mah chin. I went back ter
Missis--en she sezs, "W'at ez de matter wid you?" I sezs, "Uncle John
en all ob dem ez gon'; I pushed on de do'er en fell in." She sezs you
know dey ez not gone, go back en git dem up. I had ter go back, but
dey wur'ent dere.
No, I don't member de sta'rs fallin'.
Mah Missis didunt gib me nuthin, cept mah clothes, en she put dem in a
carpet bag. Atter freedom mah mammy kum fum Lebanon en got me. Ah'll
neber fergit dat day--Oh Lawdy! I kin see her now. Mah ole Missis'
daughter-in-law had got a bunch ob switches ter whup me, I wuz
standin' in de do'er shakin' all ovuh, en de young Missis wuz tellin'
me ter git mah clothes off. I sezs, "I se'd a 'oman kum'g thro de
gate." Mah Missis sezs, "Dat ez Lucindia" en de young Missis hid de
switches. Mah mammy sezs I'se kum ter git mah chile. Mah Missis tole
her ter let me spend de nite wid her, den she'd send me ter de Court
House at 9 o'clock next mawnin'. So I stayed wid de Missis dat nite,
en she tole me ter alluz be a good girl, en don't let a man er boy
trip me. I didunt know w'at she mean but I allus membered w'at she
sai. I guess I wuz 'bout 12 y'ars ole w'en I lef' mah Missis en mah
mammy brought me ter Nashville en put me ter wuk. De mawnin' I lef'
mah Missis, I went ter de Court House en met mah mammy; de Court room
wuz jammed wid peeple. De Jedge tole me ter hold my right hand up, I
wuz so skeered I stuck both hands up. Jedge sezs, "Frankie ez dat yo
mammy?" I sezs, "I dunno, she sezs she ez." (W'at did I know ob a
mammy dat wuz tuk fum me at six weeks ole). He sezs, "Wuz yo Marster
good ter you?" I sezs, "Mah Missis wuz, but mah Marster wasn't--he
whup'd me." De Jedge said, "Whar did he whup you?" I tole him on mah
back. He sezs, "Frankie, ez you laughin'?" I sezs, "No, sir." He said
ter mah mammy, "Lucindia tek dis chile en be good ter her fer she has
b'en mistreated. Sum day she can mek a livin' fer you." (En thank de
Lawd I did keep her in her ole days en wuz able ter bury her.) At dat
time money wuz called chin plaster en w'en I lef' out ob de court room
diff'ent peeple gib me money en I had mah hat almos' full. Dat was de
only money I had gib ter me.
I nussed Miss Sadie Pope Fall; she ma'ried Mat Gardner. I also nussed
Miss Sue Porter Houston. I den wuk'd at de Bline Schul.
De fust pa'r ob shoes I eber had wuz atter I kum ter Nashville. Dey
had high tops en wuz called bootees. I had sum red striped socks wid
De ole songs I member:
"De Ole Time 'ligion."
"I'm Goin' ter Join de Ban."
W'en dey would sing deze songs hit would almos' mek you ha'r stand up
on yo haid, de way dem peeples would jump en shout!
I member w'en sum ob de slaves run 'way durin' slavery.
I dunno any tales; mah mammy wasn't a 'oman ter talk much. Maybe ef
she had bin I would hab had an easier time. As far as I know de
ex-slaves hab had diff'ent kinds ob wuk since dere freedum. No, I ain'
nebber se'd any ghos'. I'se bin in de woods en dark places, but didn't
see nothin', en I'se not goin' ter say I did kaze I might git
I went ter schul one y'ar at Fisk in de y'ar 1869.
De last man I wuk'd fer wuz at de Link Hotel. Den I started keepin'
boarders. Hab fed all deze Nashville police. De police ez de ones dat
hep'ed git deze relief orders fer me. I hab lived on dis street fer 60
years. I lived 22 y'ars whar de Hermitage Laundry ez. Dat ez whar I
got de name "Mammie." W'iles livin' dere I raised eighteen chilluns
white en black, en sum ob dem iz good ter me now.
I had sum papah's 'bout mah age en diff'ent things, but w'en de back
waters got up, dey got lost. I didn't hab ter move but I kep prayin'
en talkin' ter de Lawd en I b'leeve he 'Yeard me fer de water didn't
git in mah house.
I member w'en de yellow fever en de cholera wuz 'yer, in 1870 en 1873.
Dey didn't hab coffins nuff ter put dem in, so dey used boxes en piled
de boxes in waggins lak hauling wood.
I'se aint worth a dime now w'en hit kums ter wukin' fer I'se aint able
ter do nuthin, thoo I can't complain ob mah livin' since de relief has
bin takin' keer ob me.
Dis young peeples, "Oh mah Lawd!" Dey ain' worth talkin' 'bout. I
tries ter shame deze 'omen, dey drink (I call hit ole bust haid
whiskey), en do such mean things. I'se disgusted at mah own color. Dey
try ter know ter much, en dunno muthin', en dey don' do 'nuff wuk.
I nebber voted en dunno nothin' 'bout hit. Hab nebber had any frens in
office. Cain' member nothin' 'bout re'structon. I hab bin sick en
still don' feel right. Sumtimes I feels krazy.
Hab bin tole dat black cat crossin' road in frunt ob you wuz bad luck.
I nebber did b'leeve in any signs. Ef I ez ter hab bad luck, ah'll hab
I b'long ter de Baptist Chuch.
De culored peeples useter hab camp meetin's, en dey'd last fer two
weeks. Lawd hab mercy did we hab a time at dem meetin's, preachin',
singin', en shoutin'. En ovuh sum whar neah dey would be cookin'
mutton en diff'ent good things ter eat. Sum ob dem would shout 'til
dere throats would be sore en hit seemed dat sum ob dem niggahs didn't
keer ef dey got home ter wuk er not.
I sumtimes wish fer de good ole days. Deze days folks don't hab time
fer 'ligion. De dog-gone ole radio en udder things ez takin' hits
Oh Lawdie how dey did baptize down at de wha'f! De Baptist peeple
would gather at de wha'f on de fust Sunday in May. Dey would kum fum
all de Baptist Chuches. Would leave de chuch singin' en shoutin' en
keep dat up 'til dey got ter de river. Hab seen dem wid new clothes on
git down on de groun en roll en git covered wid dirt. Sum ob dem would
almos' luze dere clothes, en dey'd fall down lak dey wuz dying.
Deze last few y'ars dey hab got ter stylish ter shout.
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