Hattie Thompson





Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Hattie Thompson, Widener, Arkansas

Age: 72





"I was born the second year after the surrender. I was born close to

Arlington, Tennessee. My parents was Mariah Thermon and Johnson Mayo.

They had eight children. They belong to different owners. I heard mama

say in slavery time she'd clean her house good Saturday and clean up her

children and start cooking dinner fore pa come. They looked forward to

pa coming. Now that was at our own house.



"Mama was heired. She was the house woman and cook for her young

mistress, Miss Sallie Thermon. She married Mr. John Thermon. She was

Miss Sallie Royster till she married. I heard her say she raised Miss

Sallie's children with her own. She was a wet nurse. I know Miss Sallie

was good to her. I don't think she was sold but her mother was sold.

She would spin and weave and the larger children did too. They made

bed spreads in colors and solid white. They called the colored ones

coverlets. They was pretty. Mama helped quilt. She was a good hand at

that. They made awful close stitches and backstitched every now and then

to make it hold. They would wax the thread to keep it from rolling up

and tangling.



"Thread was in balls. They rolled it from skeins to balls. They rolled

it from shuck broches to the balls. Put shucks around the spindle to

slip it off easy. I have seen big balls this big (2 ft. in diameter)

down on the floor and mama, knitting off of it right on. When the feet

wore out on socks and stockings, they would unravel them, save the good

thread, and reknit the foot or toe or heel.



"When I was a child, patching and darning was stylish. Soon as the

washing was brung in the clothes had to be sorted out and every snag

place patched nice. Folks had better made clothes and had to take care

of em. Clothes don't last no time now. White folks had fine clothes but

they didn't have nigh as many as white folks do now.



"Mama was a pretty good hand at doing mighty nigh what she took a

notion to do about the house. She never was no count in the field--jess

couldn't hold out it seem like. She worked in the field lots. Pa was

a shoemaker. He made all our shoes and had his tools, lasts, etc. He

learned his trade in slavery. He farmed.



"It has been so long ago I tell you I don't recollect things straight. I

don't know how they found out about freedom but they left I think. They

got all they could take, their clothes and a little to eat. They

started share cropping. They was out from Holly Springs when I come to

knowledge. Mama was a nice hand at cooking and hand sewing. She said

Miss Sallie learnt her. She never could read.



"I come to Arkansas fifty year ago this spring with one little girl--all

the little girl I ever had. I never had no boys. I come here to get

work. I always got work. It was a new country and it was being cleared

out. In the spring we could get wild polk greens to cook. You can't get

none now.



"Times is sider'bly changed since then. Hogs run wild. Plenty game here

then. Something to eat was not hard to get then as it is now. We raise a

hog in a pen nearly every year but it takes plenty to feed it that way.



"My husband have rheumatism and we get $12 and commodities. He works in

the field and I wash and iron when I can get some to do. That is scarce.

He works all he can."





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