Ida Harper

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Ida Harper

819 West Pullen Street; Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 93

"Now what you want with me? I was born in Mississippi. I come here

tollable young. I'se ninety-three now.

"My old master mean to us. We used to watch for him to come in the big

gate, then we run and hide. He used to come to the quarters and make us

chillun sing. He make us sing Dixie. Sometimes he make us sing half a

day. Seems like Dixie his main song. I tell you I don't like it now. But

have mercy! He make us sing it. Seems like all the white folks like

Dixie. I'se glad when he went away to war.

"But they used to feed you. Heap better meat than you get now. I tell

you they had things to eat in them days.

"I 'member when the soldiers was comin' through and runnin' the white

folks both ways. Law chile--you don't know nothin'! We used to hide in

the cistern. One time when the Yankees come in a rush my brother and me

hide in the feather bed.

"When the war ended, white man come to the field and tell my

mother-in-law she free as he is. She dropped her hoe and danced up to

the turn road and danced right up into old master's parlor. She went so

fast a bird could a sot on her dress tail. That was in June. That night

she sent and got all the neighbors and they danced all night long.

"I never went to school a day in my life. I wish I could read but they

ain't no use wishin' for spilt milk.

"How long I been in Arkansas? Let me see how many chillun I had since I

been to Arkansas. Let me see--I fotch four chillun with me and I'se the

mother of ten.

"Yes'm I sho' has worked hard. I worked in the field and cooked and

washed and ironed. But oh Lord I likes my freedom.

"I couldn't tell you what I think of this present generation. They is

just like a hoss on the battle field--white and black. They say

'Grandma, you just an old fogy.'

"I think they is another slave-time gal down in the next block. You want

me to show you?"

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