Anna Huggins

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins

Person Interviewed: Mrs. Anna Huggins

Home: Pleasant at John Street.

"Miss Huggins? (pronounced hew--gins) Yes, ma'am she lives here. Oh Miss

Huggins, Miss Huggins. They's somebody to see you."

The interviewer had approached an open door of an "L" kitchen attached

to a "shot gun house". Thru the dining room and a bed room she was

conducted to the front bedroom. This was furnished simply but with a

good deal of elaboration. The bed was gay with brightly colored pillows.

Most of them had petal pillow tops made from brilliant crepe paper

touched with silver and guilt. The room was evidently not occupied by

Mrs. Huggins herself for late in the interview a colored girl entered

the room. "Do you want your room now?" Mrs. Huggins inquired. "No

indeed, there's lots of time," the girl replied politely. But the

interviewer managed to terminate the interview quickly.

"So you knew Fanny McCarty. Well, well, so you knew Fanny. I don't know

when I've heard anybody speak about her. She's not so much on looks, but

Fanny is a good little woman, a mighty good little woman. She's up in

Michigan. You know she worked at one of the big hotels here--the Eastman

it was. When they closed in the summer they sent her up to the big hotel

on Mackinac. For a while she was here in the winter and up there for the

summer season. Then she stayed on up there.

"You say she worked for you when you were a little girl? Before the fire

of 1913? Now, I remember, you were just a little girl and you used to

come over to my house sometimes with her. I remember." (A delighted

smile.) "Now I remember.

"No, I don't remember very much about the war. It is mostly what I heard

the older ones say. My grandmother used to tell me a lot about it. I was

just a little thing in my mother's arms when the war was over. Guess I

was about four years old. We lived in St. Francis County and as soon as

we were free pappa sent for us. He sent for us to come by boat to where

he was. We went to Helena. I remember they were all lined up--the

colored soldiers were. But I knew pappa. They all wondered how, hadn't

seen him in a long time. But I picked him out of all the line of men and

I said, 'There's my pappa.' Yes, my pappa was a soldier in the war. He

was gone from home most of the time. I only saw him once in a while.

"My grandmother told me lots of things about slavery. She was born a free

girl. But when she was just a little girl somebody stole her and brought

her to Arkansas and sold her. No, from the things they told

me--especially grandmother--they weren't very good to them. Lots of

times I've gone down on my knees to my grandmother to hear her tell

about how mean they were to them.

"I'd say to her, 'Grandmother, why didn't you fight back?' 'You couldn't

fight back,' she said, 'you just had to take it.' 'I wouldn't,' I said,

'I wouldn't take it.' Guess there's too much Indian blood in me. A white

person never struck me but once. I was a girl--not so very big and I was

taking care of a white lady's little girl. She and a friend of hers were

talking and I sneaked up to the door and tried to listen to what they

were saying. She caught me and she scolded me--she struck at me with her

fan--it was just a light tap, but it made me mad. I fought her and I ran

off home, she came to get me too. I never would have gone back

otherways. She said she never did see a girl better with children.

"I remember my grandmother telling about once when she was cooking in the

kitchen, her back was turned and an old hound dog got in and started to

take the chicken which was on the table. He had even got part of it in

his mouth. But she turned and saw him--she choked the dog--and choked

him until she choked the chicken out of him. You can see she must have

been pretty scared to be afraid to let them know the chicken had been

tampered with. Then we always thought my mother's death was caused by

her being beat by an overseer--she caused that overseer's death, she got

him while he was beating her. They had to hide her out to save her

life--but a long time afterwards she died--we always laid it to that

hard beating.

"We lived in Helena after the war. My father was the marrying kind. He

was a wild marrying man. He had lots of wives. But Mother and

grandmother wouldn't let us call them Mother--she made us call them

Aunt. It really was my grandmother who reared me. She was a good cook,

had good jobs all the time.

"When I grew up I married. Mr. Huggins was a bar tender in a saloon. He

made good money. We had a good home and I took care of the home. I had

it mighty easy. Then one day he fell in the floor paralyzed. I brought

him to Hot Springs. That was back in 1905. We stayed on and he lived for

18 years.

"I got a house there and I kept roomers. That was where Fanny stayed with

me. It was at 311 Pleasant. You remember the place, tho. When I was

young, I had it easy. But now I'm old and I don't have it so well. A few

years ago I was out in California on a visit. There was a man shining up

to me and I wrote my niece 'What would you think if your aunty married?'

'Law,' she wrote back to me, 'you've lived by yourself so long now, you

couldn't stand a man.' Maybe she was right."

(At this point the girl passed into the room.) "Look Maggie! three

pretty handkerchiefs. Miss Hudgins brought them. And I was just writing

to my sister--my half sister today, I didn't even expect to much as a

handkerchief for Christmas. And my initials embroidered on them two. One

with A on it and two with H. I'm really proud of them.

"I'm going to write to Fanny to tell her about your coming to see me.

She'll be so glad to know about you. I'll tell her about the

handkerchiefs. You know, for a while Fanny had it pretty hard while she

was here. She stayed at my house and I kept her for a long time without

pay. I knew Fanny was a good girl and that when she got work she would

pay me back. Do you know what Fanny has done? When she heard I was hard

up she wrote me and told me to come up to Michigan to her and she would

take care of me just as I had taken care of her. But I didn't want to

go. Wasn't it nice of her, though?

"Yes, when I was young I had it easy. I had my home and took care of it.

If I needed more money, I mortgaged my home and paid it back. Then I'd

mortgage it and pay it back. But I mortgaged it once too often. That

time I couldn't pay it back. I lost it.

"Well, I'm so glad you came to see me. I remember the pretty little girl

who used to come to my house with Fanny. Be sure to write to her, she'll

appreciate it, and thank you for the handkerchiefs."

Anna Hall Anna King facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail