Edmond Smith

Interviewer: Pernella Anderson

Person Interviewed: Edmond Smith

D Avenue

El Dorado, Ark.

Age: ?

"I was born in Arcadia, Louisiana a long, long time ago. Now my work

when I was a child was farmin'. I did not stay a child long, I been

grown ever since I was fourteen. My father lived till I was eleven, and

I thought since I was the oldest boy I could take his place of bossin',

but my mother would take me down a button hole lower whenever I got too


"Before my papa died we had a good livin'. We lived with his mistress's

daughter, and we thought we lived in heaven. My papa made all of the

shoes and raised all of the cattle from which he got the hide. We raised

all the wool to make our wool clothes and made all of the clothes we

wore. And food--we did not know what it was to go to a store to buy.

Didn't have to do that. You see, people now living out of paper sacks.

Every time they get ready to cook it's go to the store. We old timers

lived out of our smokehouse.

"In there we had dried beef, cured pork, sugar from syrup, sweet

potatoes, onions, Irish potatoes, plenty of dried fruit and canned

fruit, peanuts, hickory nuts, walnuts; eggs in the henhouse and chickens

on the yard, cows in the pen and milk and butter in the house.

"My mama even made our plow lines. She had a spinning wheel and you know

how to spin?--you can make ropes for plow lines too. Just twist the

cotton and have it about six inches long and put it in the loom and let

it go around and around. You keep puttin' the twisted cotton in the loom

and step on the peddle and no sooner than done, that was worked in a

rope. Now, if you don't know what I am talking about it is useless for

me to tell you.

"After papa died that left no one to work but mama and I tell you time

brought about a change. A house full of little children--we lived from

hand to mouth. Not enough corn to feed one mule. No syrup, no hogs, no

cows. Oh! we had a hard time. I remember hearing my mama many a night

ask God to help her through the struggle with her children. The more my

mama prayed the harder times got with her. Wasn't no churches around so

she had to sing and pray at home. The first Sunday School I remember

going to was in 1892. I went to school and got as high as fifth grade,

then I ran away from my mama.

"Just becaise I let old bad man overpower me I got grown and mannish.

Couldn't nobody tell me a thing. I would steal, I would fight, I would

lie. I remember in 1896 I went to church--that was about the fourth time

I had been to church. The preacher began preachin' and I went outdoors

and cut the harness off of his mule and broke one of his buggy wheels. I

went down in the woods and cut a cow just for meanness. I stole a gun,

and I would shoot anytime and anywhere, and nobody bothered me because

they was scared to. I stole chickens, turkeys and anything.

"I got in trouble more times than a little, so the last time I got in

trouble some white people got me out and I worked for them to pay my

fine out. While working for them I made shoes. They taught me to do

carpenter work. They taught me to paint; to paper; to cook; work in the

field and do most anything. I came to my senses while working with those

people and they made a man out of me. When I left there I was a first

class carpenter. Those white people was the cause of me getting

independent. I didn't get no book sense, but if you get with some good

white people, that will be worth more than an education."

Edmond Jones Edna Boysaw facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail