From: South Carolina
=EX-SLAVE 99 YEARS OLD.=
Mary Raines is the oldest living person, white or black, in Fairfield
County. If she survives until next December, she will have attained her
century of years. She lives with her widowed daughter, Fannie
McCollough, fifty-seven years old, and a son, Joe Raines, aged 76 years.
They rent a two-room frame house, on lands of Mrs. Sallie Wylie, Chester
County, S.C. Joe, the son, is a day laborer on nearby farms. Fannie
cooks for Mrs. W.T. Raines. Old Mother Mary has been receiving a county
pension of $5.00 per month for several years.
"How old would Marse William Woodward be if he hadn't died befo' I gwine
to die? A hundred and twenty, you say? Well, dat's 'bout de way I
figured my age. Him was a nephew of Marse Ed, de fust Marse Ed P.
Mobley. Him say dat when him 'come twenty-one, old marster give him a
birthday dinner and 'vite folks to it. Marse Riley McMaster, from
Winnsboro, S.C., was dere a flyin' 'round my young mistress, Miss
Harriett. Marse Riley was a young doctor, ridin' 'round wid saddlebags.
While they was all settin' down to dinner, de young doctor have to git
up in a hurry to go see my mammy. Left his plate piled up wid turkey,
nice dressin', rice and gravy, candy 'tatoes, and apple marmalade and
cake. De wine 'canter was a settin' on de 'hogany sideboard. All dis him
leave to go see mammy, who was a squallin' lak a passle of patarollers
(patrollers) was a layin' de lash on her. When de young doctor go and
come back, him say as how my mammy done got all right and her have a gal
baby. Then him say dat Marse Ed, his uncle, took him to de quarter where
mammy was, look me all over and say: 'Ain't her a good one? Must weigh
ten pounds. I's gwine to name dis baby for your mama, William. Tell her
I name her, Mary, for her, but I 'spects some folks'll call her 'Polly',
just lak they call your mama, 'Polly'.
"I was a strong gal, went to de field when I's twelve years old, hoe my
acre of cotton, 'long wid de grown ones, and pick my 150 pounds of
cotton. As I wasn't scared of de cows, they set me to milkin' and
churnin'. Bless God! Dat took me out of de field. House servants 'bove
de field servants, them days. If you didn't git better rations and
things to eat in de house, it was your own fault, I tells you! You just
have to help de chillun to take things and while you doin' dat for them,
you take things for yourself. I never call it stealin'. I just call it
takin' de jams, de jellies, de biscuits, de butter and de 'lasses dat I
have to reach up and steal for them chillun to hide 'way in deir little
stomaches, and me, in my big belly.
"When Joe drive de young doctor, Marse Riley, out to see Mass Harriett,
while Marse Riley doin' his courtin' in de parlor, Joe was doin' his
courtin' in de kitchen. Joe was as smart as de nex' one. Us made faster
time than them in de parlor; us beat them to de marriage. Marse Riley
call it de altar, but Joe always laugh and say it was de halter. Many is
de time I have been home wid them sixteen chillun, when him was a
gallavantin' 'round, and I wished I had a got a real halter on dat
husband of mine.
"I b'longs to de Gladden's Grove African Methodist 'Piscopal Church. Too
old to shout but de great day is comin', when I'll shout and sing to de
music of dat harp of 10,000 strings up yonder. Oh! Won't dat be a joyful
day, when dese old ailin' bones gonna rise again." (Then the old darkey
became suffused in tears, lapsed into a silence and apathy, from which
she couldn't be aroused. Finally she slumbered and snored. It would have
been unkind to question her further.)
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