Amanda Rosa

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Amanda Rosa

817 Schiller Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 82

"I was nine years old in the time of the surrender. I know I was here

in that time. I don't know nothin' 'bout their carryin'-on. I know they

whipped them with hobble rods. You don't know what hobble rods is!!!

Ain't you seen these here long thin hick'ry shoots? They called hobble

rods. I don't know why they called 'em hobble rods. I know they made you

hobble. They'd put 'em in the fire and roast 'em and twist 'em. I have

seen 'em whip them till the blood run down their backs. I've seen 'em

tie the women up, strip 'em naked to their waist and whip 'am till the

blood run down their backs. They had a nigger whipper, too.

"I was born in Salem, Alabama. I came up here about twenty-five years


"Isaac Adair was the name of the old man who owned me. He owned my

mother and father too, Hester and Scip. Their last name was Adair, the

same as their master's.

"I don't remember the names of my grandfather and grandmother, 'cause we

was crossed up, you see, One of my grandmothers was named Crecie and the

other was named Lydia. I don't remember my grandfather's name. I spect

I used to call 'im master. I used to remember them but I don't no more.

Nobody can't worry me 'bout them old folks now. They ast me all them

questions at the Welfare. They want to know your gran'pa and your

gran'ma. Who were they, what did they do, where did they live, where are

they now? I don't know what they did. That's too far back for me.

"My mother and father had nine children. I have only one sister living.

All the others done gone to heaven but me and her.

"My mother and father lived in a log cabin. They had one-legged beds

nailed to the wall. They had benches and boxes and blocks and all sich

as that for chairs. My daddy made the table we used. He made them

one-legged beds too. They kept the food in boxes and gourds. They had

these big gourds. They could cut holes in the top of them and put things

in them. My mammy had a lot of 'em and they were nice and clean too.

Wisht I had one of them now.

"Some folks didn't have that good. We had trundle beds for the children

that would run under the big bed when they wasn't sleeping in it. We

made a straw mattress. You know the white folks weren't goin' to let 'em

use cotton, and they didn't have no chickens to git feathers from; so

they had to use straw. Oh, they had a hard time I'm tellin' you. My

mother pulled greens out of the garden and field, and cured it up for

the mattress.

"For rations, we'd eat onions and vegetables. We et what was raised.

You know they didn't have nothin' then 'cept what they raised. All the

cookin' was done at one house, but there was two cooks, one for the

colored folks and one for the white folks. My grandma cooked for the

white people. They cooked in those big old washpots for the colored

people. We all thought we had a pretty good master.

"We didn't know nothin' about a master.

"I ain't positive what time the hands ate breakfast. I know they et it

and I know they et at the same time and place. I think they et after

sunrise. They didn't have to eat before sunrise.

"When they fed the children, they cook the food and put it in a great

big old tray concern and called up the children, 'Piggee-e-e-e-e,

piggee-e-e-e-e.' My cousin was the one had to go out and call the

children; and you could see them runnin' up from every which way, little

shirt tails flyin' and hair sticking out. Then they would pour the food

out in different vessels till the children could git around them with

those muscle-shell spoons. Many of them as could get 'round a vessel

would eat out of it and when they finished that one, they'd go to

another one, and then to another one till they all got fed.

"My master worked seventy hands they said. He had two colored overseers

and one white one. He didn't allow them overseers to whip and slash

them niggers. They had to whip them right. Didn't allow no pateroles to

bother them neither. That's a lot of help too. 'Cause them pateroles

would eat you up. It was awful. Niggers used to run away to keep from

bein' beat up.

"I knowed one gal that ran away in the winter time and she went up into

the hollow of a tree for protection. When she came in, she was in sich

a bad condition they had to cut off both her legs. They had froze out

there. They taken care of her. They wanted her to work. She was jus' as

nice a seamstress as you ever saw. And she could do lots of things. She

could get about some. She could go on her knees. She had some pads for

them and was just about as high as your waist when she was goin' along

on her hands and knees, swinging her body between her arms.

Ate in the Big House

"The cooks and my mother stayed in the white folks' yard. They weren't

in the quarters. My mother was seamstress and she was right in the house

all the day long sewing. The children like me and my sister, they used

us 'round the house and yard for whatever we could do. They didn't never

whip none of my father's children. If we done something they thought we

ought to been whipped for, they would tell father to whip us, and if he

wanted to, he would; and if he didn't want to, he wouldn't. They made a

big difference for some reason.


"They married in that time by standing up and letting someone read the

ceremony to them. My master was a Christian. There wasn't no jumpin'

over a broomstick on my master's place. The white folks didn't have no

nigger preacher for their churches. But the colored folks had 'em. They

preached out of these little old Blue Back Spellers--leastways they was

little blue back books anyhow.


"My folks was on the road refugeeing from Magnolia, Arkansas to

Pittsburg, Texas when the news came that the colored folks was free. And

my master came 'round and told the niggers they was free as he was. I

didn't hear him. I don't know where I was. I'm sure I was out playin


Slave Wages and Experiences after the War

"My father worked in a blacksmith shop right after the War. Before the

War, he went far and near to work for the white folks. They'd risk him

with their money and everything. They would give him part of it; I don't

know how much. He brought money to them, and they sure give him money.

"We didn't have to wear the things the other slave children had to wear.

He would order things for his family and my father would do the same for

us. When old master made his order, my father would put his in with it.


"I am the mother of fifteen children--ten girls and five boys. That was

enough for me. I am willing to quit off. My husband is dead. He's been

dead for thirty-five years.


"I don't know what to say about these young people. Mine are pretty

good. So, I'm 'fraid to say much about the others.

"Lord, I don't know what we'll do if we don't get some rain.

Vocational Experiences

When I was able I washed and ironed. I didn't have to do nothin' till

after my father and husband died. Then I washed and ironed and cooked

till the white folks set me out. They said I was too old. That is one

thing I hates to think of. They had the privilege to say I couldn't

work; they ought to a seen that I got somethin' to live on when I wasn't

able to work no more."

Interviewer's Comment

You can't get the whole story by reading the words in this interview.

You have to hear the tones and the accents, and see the facial

expressions and bodily movements, and sense the sometimes almost occult

influence; you have to feel the utter lack of resentment that lies

behind the words that sound vehement when read. You marvel at the quick,

smooth cover-up when something is to be withheld, at the unexpected

vigor of the mind when the bait is attractive enough to draw it out, and

at the sweetness of the disposition. Some old people merely get

mellowed and sweetened by the hardships through which they have passed.

Sometimes, you wonder if some of the old folk don't have dispositions

that they can turn off or on at will.

It is not hard to realize the reason why Amanda was treated better than

other children when you remember that she called her grandpa "Master".

Amanda Oliver Amanda Styles facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail