Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Mandy Tucker
1021 E. 11th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
"I was here in slavery times but I don't know what year I was born. War?
I was in it!
"I member old master and old mistis too. I member I didn't know nothin'
bout my mother and father cause it was night when they went to work and
night when they come in and we chilluns would be under the bed asleep.
"I know the white folks had a kitchen full of we chilluns. We went over
to the kitchen to eat.
"My mother belonged to the Cockrills and my father belonged to the
Armstrongs. They were cousins and their plantations joined.
"I was large enough to know when they took my parents to Texas, but I
didn't know how serious it was till they was gone. I member peepin'
through the crack of the fence but I didn't know they was takin' em off.
"They left me with the old doctor woman. She doctored both white and
colored. I stayed there till I was fourteen years old.
"I know we had our meals off a big wooden tray but we had wooden spoons
to eat with.
"I member when they was fightin' here at Pine Bluff. I was standin' at
the overseer's bell house waitin' for a doll dress a girl had promised
me and the guns was goin' just like pop guns. We didn't know what it was
to take off our shoes and clothes for six months. We was ready to run if
they broke in on us.
"The Yankees had their headquarters at the big house near the river. All
this was in woods till I growed up. We used to have our picnic here.
"I was standin' right at the post when they rung the bell in the bell
house when peace declared. I heered the old folks sayin, 'We is free, we
"I know before freedom they wouldn't let us burn a speck of light at
night. Had these little iron lamps. They'd twist wicks and put em in
tallow. I don't know whether it was beef or sheep tallow but they had
plenty of sheeps on the place.
"Colonel Cockrill would have us come up to the big house every Sunday
mornin' and he'd give us a apple or a stick of candy. But them that was
big enough to work wouldn't get any. They worked on Sunday too--did the
washin' every Sunday evenin'.
"Oh lord, they had a big plantation.
"After the War I went to school some. We had white teachers from the
North. I didn't get to go much except on rainy days. Other times I had
to work. I got so I could read print but I can't read writin'. I used to
could but since I been sick seems like my mind just hops off.
"After freedom my parents rented land and farmed. I stayed with the old
doctor woman till I was fourteen then I went to my parents.
"I married when I was eighteen and had five chillun. When I worked for
my father he'd let us quit when we got tired and sit under the shade
bushes. But when I married I had to work harder than ever. My husband
was just a run-around. He'd put in a crop and then go and leave it.
Sometimes he was a constable. Finally he went off and took up with
"I been here in Arkansas all my life except eight months I lived in St.
Louis, but I didn't like it. When I was in St. Louis I know it started
to snow. I thought it was somebody pickin' geese. I said, 'What is
that?' and my granddaughter said, 'Gal, that's snow.'
"I don't know what to think of the younger generation. I think they is
just goin' out to nothin'. They say they are gettin' weaker and wiser
but I think they are weaker and foolish--they are not wise in the right
way. Some are very good to their parents and some are not.
"Honey, I don't know how things is goin'--all I know is they is mighty
tight right now."
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