Frank Adamson

Project #1655

W. W. Dixon

Winnsboro, S. C.



"I 'members when you was barefoot at de bottom; now I see you a settin'

dere, gittin' bare at de top, as bare as de palm of my hand.

"I's been 'possum huntin' wid your pappy, when he lived on de Wateree,

just after de war. One night us got into tribulation, I tells you! 'Twas

'bout midnight when de dogs make a tree. Your pappy climb up de tree,

git 'bout halfway up, heard sumpin' dat once you hears it you never

forgits, and dats de rattlin' of de rattles on a rattle snake's tail. Us

both 'stinctly hear dat sound! What us do? Me on de ground, him up de

tree, but where de snake? Dat was de misery, us didn't know. Dat snake

give us fair warnin' though! Marster Sam (dats your pa) 'low: 'Frank,

ease down on de ground; I'll just stay up here for a while.' I lay on

them leaves, skeered to make a russle. Your pa up de tree skeered to go

up or down! Broad daylight didn't move us. Sun come up, he look all

'round from his vantage up de tree, then come down, not 'til then, do I

gits on my foots.

"Then I laugh and laugh and laugh, and ask Marster Sam how he felt.

Marster Sam kinda frown and say: 'Damn I feels like hell! Git up dat

tree! Don't you see dat 'possum up dere?' I say: 'But where de snake,

Marster?' He say: 'Dat rattler done gone home, where me and you and dat

'possum gonna be pretty soon!'

"I b'longs to de Peays. De father of them all was, Korshaw Peay. My

marster was his son, Nicholas; he was a fine man to just look at. My

mistress was always tellin' him 'bout how fine and handsome-like he was.

He must of got use to it; howsomever, marster grin every time she talk

like dat.

"My pappy was bought from de Adamson peoples; they say they got him off

de ship from Africa. He sho' was a man; he run all de other niggers 'way

from my mammy and took up wid her widout askin' de marster. Her name was

Lavinia. When us got free, he 'sisted on Adamson was de name us would go

by. He name was William Adamson. Yes sir! my brothers was: Justus,

Hillyard, and Donald, and my sisters was, Martha and Lizzettie.

"'Deed I did work befo' freedom. What I do? Hoed cotton, pick cotton,

'tend to calves and slop de pigs, under de 'vision of de overseer. Who

he was? First one name Mr. Cary, he a good man. Another one Mr. Tim

Gladden, burn you up whenever he just take a notion to pop his whip. Us

boys run 'round in our shirt tails. He lak to see if he could lift de

shirt tail widout techin' de skin. Just as often as not, though, he tech

de skin. Little boy holler and Marster Tim laugh.

"Us live in quarters. Our beds was nailed to de sides of de house. Most

of de chillun slept on pallets on de floor. Got water from a big spring.

"De white folks 'tend to you all right. Us had two doctors, Doctor

Carlisle and Doctor James.

"I see some money, but never own any then. Had plenty to eat: Meat,

bread, milk, lye hominy, horse apples, turnips, collards, pumpkins, and

dat kind of truck.

"Was marster rich? How come he wasn't? He brag his land was ten miles

square and he had a thousand slaves. Them poor white folks looked up to

him lak God Almighty; they sho' did. They would have stuck their hands

in de fire if he had of asked them to do it. He had a fish pond on top

of de house and terraces wid strawberries, all over de place. See them

big rock columns down dere now? Dats all dats left of his grandness and

greatness. They done move de whippin' post dat was in de backyard. Yes

sah, it was a 'cessity wid them niggers. It stood up and out to 'mind

them dat if they didn't please de master and de overseer, they'd hug dat

post, and de lend of dat whip lash gwine to flip to de hide of dat back

of their's.

"I ain't a complainin'. He was a good master, bestest in de land, but he

just have to have a whippin' post, 'cause you'll find a whole passle of

bad niggers when you gits a thousand of them in one flock.

"Screech owl holler? Women and men turn socks and stockings wrong side

out quick, dat they did, do it now, myself. I's black as a crow but I's

got a white folks heart. Didn't ketch me foolin' 'round wid niggers in

radical times. I's as close to white folks then as peas in a pod. Wore

de red shirt and drunk a heap of brandy in Columbia, dat time us went

down to General Hampton into power. I 'clare I hollered so loud goin'

'long in de procession, dat a nice white lady run out one of de houses

down dere in Columbia, give me two biscuits and a drum stick of chicken,

patted me on de shoulder, and say: 'Thank God for all de big black men

dat can holler for Governor Hampton as loud as dis one does.' Then I

hollers some more for to please dat lady, though I had to take de half

chawed chicken out dis old mouth, and she laugh 'bout dat 'til she

cried. She did!

"Well, I'll be rockin' 'long balance of dese days, a hollerin' for Mr.

Roosevelt, just as loud as I holler then for Hampton.

"My young marsters was: Austin, Tom, and Nicholas; they was all right

'cept they tease you too hard maybe some time, and want to mix in wid de

'fairs of slave 'musements.

"Now what make you ask dat? Did me ever do any courtin'? You knows I

did. Every he thing from a he king down to a bunty rooster gits cited

'bout she things. I's lay wake many nights 'bout sich things. It's de

nature of a he, to take after de she. They do say dat a he angel ain't

got dis to worry 'bout.

"I fust courted Martha Harrison. Us marry and jine de church. Us had

nine chillun; seven of them livin'. A woman can't stand havin' chillun,

lak a man. Carryin', sucklin', and 'tending to them wore her down, dat,

wid de malaria of de Wateree brung her to her grave.

"I sorrow over her for weeks, maybe five months, then I got to thinking

how I'd pair up wid dis one and dat one and de other one. Took to

shavin' again and gwine to Winnsboro every Saturday, and different

churches every Sunday. I hear a voice from de choir, one Sunday, dat

makes me sit up and take notice of de gal on de off side in front. Well

sir! a spasm of fright fust hit me dat I might not git her, dat I was

too old for de likes of her, and dat some no 'count nigger might be in

de way. In a few minutes I come to myself. I rise right up, walked into

dat choir, stand by her side, and wid dis voice of mine, dat always

'tracts 'tention, jined in de hymn and out sung them all. It was easy

from dat time on.

"I marry Kate at de close of dat revival. De day after de weddin', what

you reckon? Don't know? Well, after gittin' breakfas' she went to de

field, poke 'round her neck, basket on her head and picked two hundred

pounds of cotton. Dats de kind of woman she is."

Frank A Patterson Frank Bell facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail