From: More Arkansas
Interviewer: Bernice Bowden
Person Interviewed: Zenie Cauley
Pine Bluff, Ark.
[-- 7 1938]
"I member when they freed the people.
"I was born in Bedie Kellog's yard and I know she said, 'Zenie, I hate
to give you up, I'd like to keep you.' But my mother said, 'No, ma'am, I
can't give Zenie up.'
"We still stayed there on the place and I was settled and growed up when
I left there.
"I'm old. I feels my age too. I may not look old but I feels it.
"Yes ma'am, I member when they carried us to church under bresh arbors.
Old folks had rags on their hair. Yes'm, I been here.
"My father was a Missionary Baptist preacher and he was a preacher.
Didn't know 'A' from 'B' but he was a preacher. Everbody knowed Jake
Alsbrooks. He preached all over that country of North Carolina. They'd
be as many white folks as colored. They'd give him money and he never
called for a collection in his life. Why one Sunday they give him
sixty-five dollars to help buy a horse.
"Fore I left the old county, I member the boss man, Henry Grady, come by
and tell my mother, 'I'm gwine to town now, have my dinner ready when I
come back--kill a chicken.' She was one of the cooks. Used to have us
chillun pick dewberries and blackberries and bring em to the house.
"Yes, I done left there thirty-six years--will be this August.
"When we was small, my daddy would make horse collars, cotton baskets
and mattresses at night and work in the field in the daytime and preach
on Sunday. He fell down in Bedie Kellog's lot throwin' up shucks in the
barn. He was standin' on the wagon and I guess he lost his balance. They
sent and got the best doctor in the country and he said he broke his
nabel string. They preached his funeral ever year for five years. Seemed
like they just couldn't give him up.
"White folks told my mother if she wouldn't marry again and mess up
Uncle Jake's chillun, they'd help her, but she married that man and he
beat us so I don't know how I can remember anything. He wouldn't let us
go to school. Had to work and just live like pigs.
"Oh, I used to be a tiger bout work, but I fell on the ice in
'twenty-nine and I ain't never got over it. I said I just had a death
"I never went to school but three months in my life. Didn't go long
enough to learn anything.
"I was bout a mile from where I was born when I professed religion. My
daddy had taught us the right way. I tell you, in them days you couldn't
join the church unless you had been changed.
"I come here when they was emigratin' the folks here to Arkansas."
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