James Tubbs

El Dorado District


Name of Interviewer: Pernella Anderson (Colored)

Subject: NEGRO FOLKLORE--Uncle James Tubbs


"Well ah wuz born second year after surrender. Some say dat makes me

72 years old. Mah maw only had two boys. Ah am de baby. My pa wuz name

Manger Tubbs. I wuz a purty bad boy. When ah wuz one. Ah use ter hunt.

Use ter catch six and eight possums in one night. Ah use ter love ter

fish. Spunt er many a nite campin and fishin. An playin marbles wuz a

wonderful game in mah days yo knows. Fokes wuzen so wile den.

"Ah recollect one night we went coon huntin and de boys wuz wanderin

roun and got lost. Some of de boys wuz wanderin roun tryin to git out

and couldn' so ah said: "Dar de seben star yo all jes wait and let me

fine de way out and dey say all right," "We gwina trus yo to fine out a

way out." Went on bout 200 yards and struck our fiel'. We crawled under

fence and went on, struck our coan (corn) fiel'. Den dey all reconcile

wha dey is and ah had a big laff. When ah wuz a boy ah use to drink a

little whiskey. Finally ah said that would be mah ruin. Aftah ah got

oldah ah jess decided ah'd quit. Ah nevah did do no hahm tho. Parents

didn't raise me ter drink, ah jes taken up the habit mahself. Ah use ter

steal Grandma's aigs, He! He! She use ter go ter church and tell us not

to bother anything and fore she got out er sight we'd done gone in de

hen house. We boys git dem eggs and git on out in our play thicket and

roast em and eat em and you know grandma found out where we roast dem

aigs at, and whooe if she didn' whup us. He! He! You know the wurst race

ah evah had in mah life ah wuz comin on fum Spearsville and two coach

whipper wuz layin side de road and you know dem things run me ooo-eee

till ah got tuh a stream and you know ifn hit had not bee fer dat watah

dem things woulder caught me.

"Coase mah grandma and me had had some putty good races. She tryin' ter

cotch me but ah loves her terday fer dose races we had. Mah ma died when

ah wuz one munt ole. Mah pa married agin and mah step-ma wuz mean to me

so mah grandma come an got me and raised me. Ah hant nevah been in jail.

Haint nevah been rested er nothin. Ah wish the chilluns of terday wuz

like dey wuz when ah wuz a boy. We lived in er two room log house. Our

house had a double chimney and we cooked on dat. You know we'd put a big

back stick uv wood on. Mah pa loved his big back sticks of wood to hold

the fire. Wudden no stoves at that time. We cooked on chimney fires. We

et ash cakes. Hit sho wuz good too. Granma say ash cake wuz healthy. Ah

bleve fokes ought ter eat a few of dem now. We had a putty good school

house made outn logs. Ah stop school when ah wuz in the third grade. Ah

learnt purty fair. We uster have ter take rocks an beat corn ter make

meal. We wud have ter go sometime fifty mile to git ter a griss mill. An

when we couldn't git coan mashed inter meal we wud make hominy and hit

sho wuz good too.

"Ah use ter card fer granma while she wuz spinnin. We made our socks,

gloves, and thread. We didn' have dat ter buy. When ah wuz a boy

everybody farmed and we had a plenty. Didn' have drouth in does days.

"Any kine of lan' would produce. Ah use ter get a many lashin bout

pickin cotton. Ah couldn' pick until ah got dem lashins. Some fokes say

lashin don' help but ah clare dey do.

"Ah use ter pick cotton and sing. Ah can recollect so well de song. Hit

went lak dis:

Me an' mah wife had a fallin out

She wanted me ter work on de railroad track

Etc. (See enclosed song)

"Ah jes love ter talk bout when ah wuz a boy. We had a lop cabin fuh a

church house. In dem days on meetin' Sunday fokes would go ter church

and carry de chillun but now not neither the chillun nor dey ma's go


"Fokes would serve the Lord. Dey would git happy in de fiel' and fall

out choppin, choppin cotton. No sich times as hit wuz now. Aftah all er

mah youth and hardship and goodship the Lord called me ter preach and

when he called me ah answered. Ah wuz comin cross de fiel about 12

er'clock. Ah tole him ah couldn' preach. Den ah heard a voice above

mah haid. Ah stopped and wondahed and pondered wid mahself knowin' de

condition uv mahself. Ah said, "Lord yo knows ah caint preach." Den ah

made a vow and ah stuck to hit but ah heard nother voice say, "Go and

preach" again. And ah heerd ah nother voice say "Yo go in de mawnin and

pray befo sunrise." Ah goes thar and gits on mah knees and tried ter

pray an ah heard dogs a barkin and chains rattlin an cats mewin and

everthing. Ah had heard ole fokes talk bout when yo go ter pray chains

and things would track yer tenshun. The same happen ter me. Ah want on

and ended mah prayer and yo know ah wuz a glad soul. Ah felt lak ah cud

go an then an do whut the Lawd said. Ah gone on an stahted preachin. Hit

seemed the church wuz so crowded wid so many local preachers ah couldn'

do whut de Lawd wanted me ter so ah ask the pastor ifn ah could run

prayer meetin and he said, "Why chile yes," and ah went on wid de prayer

meetin till ever'body quit his church and come to mah prayer meetin so

den he called mah han', got jealous and made me move mah prayer meetin.

So som good white fokes let me come ovah neah them and start a prayer

meetin so de people followed me and we built a church and hit is yet

dare terday."

James Spikes James Turner Mclean facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail