Joe Golden

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins

Person Interviewed: Joe Golden

Age: 86

Home: 722 Gulpha Street, Hot Springs, Ark.

"Yes, ma'am to be sure I remembers you. I knew your father and all his

brothers. I knew your mother's father and your grandmother, and all the

Denglers. Your grandpappy was mighty good to me. Your grandmother was

too. Many's the day your uncle Fred followed me about while I was

hunting. I was the only one what your grandpappy would let hunt in his

garden. Yes, ma'am! If your grandmother would hear a shot across the

hill in the garden, she'd say, 'Go over and see who it is.' And your

grandfather would come. He'd chase them away. But if it was me, he'd go

back home and he'd tell her, 'It's just Joe. He's not going to carry

away more than he can eat. Joe'll be all right.'

"Yes, ma'am. I was born down at Magnet Cove. I belonged to Mr. Andy

Mitchell. He was a great old man, he was. Did he have a big farm and

lots of black folks? Law, miss, he didn't have nothing but children,

just lots of little children. He rented me and my pappy and my mother to

the Sumpters right here in Hot Springs.

"I can remember Hot Springs when there wasn't more than three houses

here. Folks used to come thru and lots of folks used to stay. But there

wasn't more than three families lived here part of the time.

"Yes, ma'am we worked. But we had lots of fun too. Them was exciting

times. I can remember when folks got to shooting at each, other right in

the street. I run off and taken to the woods when that happened.

"No, miss, we didn't live in Hot Springs all thru the war. When the

Federals taken Little Rock they taken us to Texas. We stayed there until

'68. Then we come back to Hot Springs.

"Yes, miss, Hot Springs was a good place to make money. Lots of rich

folks was coming to the hotels. Yes, ma'am, I made money. How'd I make

it? Well lots of ways. I used to run. I was the fastest runner what was.

Folks would bet on us, and I'd always win. Then I used to shine shoes.

Made money at it too. Lots of days I made as much as $4 or $5. Sometimes

I didn't even stop to eat. But I was making money, and I didn't care.

"Then there was a feller, a doctor he was. He give me a gun. I used to

like to hunt. Hunted all over these mountains[1], hunted quail and

hunted squirrel and a few times I killed deers. The man what gave me the

gun he promised me twenty five cents apiece for all the quail I could

bring him. Lots of times I came in with them by the dozen.

"I tried to save my money. Didn't spend much. I'd bring it home to my

mother. She'd put it away for me. But if my pappy knowed I got money

he'd take it away from me and buy whiskey. You might know why, miss. He

was part Creek--yes ma'am, part Creek Indian.

"Does you remember chinquapins? They used to be all over the hill up

yonder.[1] I used to get lots of them. Sell them too. One time I chased

a deer up there[1]. Got him with a knife, didn't have a gun. The dogs

cornered him for me. Best dog I ever had, his name was Abraham Lincoln.

He was extra good for a possom dog. Once I got a white possom in the

same place I got a deer. It was way out yonder--that place there ain't

nothing but rocks. Yes, ma'am, Hell's Half Acre.[2]

"Yes, miss, I has made lots of money in my time. Can't work none now.

Wish you had got to me three years ago. That was before I had my stroke.

Can't think of what I want to say, and can't make my mouth say it. You

being patient with me. I got to take time to think.

"Me and my wife we gets along pretty well. We have our home, and then I

got other property.[3] We was real well off. I had $1200 in the

bank--Webb's Bank when it failed.[4] Never got but part of my money


"When I sold out my bootblack stand I bought a butcher shop. I made a

lot of money there. I had good meat and folks, black folks and white

folks came to buy from me. So you remembers my barbecue, do you? Yes,

miss, I always tried to make it good. Yes, I remembers your pappy used

to always buy from me.

"Your grandmother was a good woman. I remember when your Uncle Freddy

had been following me around all day while I was hunting--it was in your

grandpappy's garden--his vineyard too--it was mighty big. I told Freddy

he could have a squirrel or a quail. He took the squirrel and I gave

him a couple of quail too. Went home with him and showed your

grandmother how they ought to be fixed.

"I can remember before your father lived in Hot Springs. He and his

brothers used to come thru from Polk County. They'd bring a lot of

cotton to sell. Yes, ma'am lots of folks came thru. They'd either sell

them here or go on to Little Rock. Lots of Indians--along with cotton

and skins they'd bring loadstone. Then when your pappy and his brothers

had a hardware store I bought lots of things from them. Used to be some

pretty bad men in Hot Springs--folks was mean in them days. I remember

when your father kept two men from killing each other. Wish, I wish I

could remember better. This stroke has about got me.

"Yes, miss, that was the garden. I used to sell garden truck too. Had a

bush fence around it long before a wire one. Folks used to pass up other

folks to buy truck from me. Your mother did.

"Life's been pretty good to me. I've lived a long time. And I've done a

lot. Made a lot of money, and didn't get beyond the third grade.[5]

Can't cultivate the garden now. My wife does well enough to take care of

the yard. She's a good woman, my wife is.

"So you're going to Fayetteville to see Miss Adeline? I remember Miss

Adeline.[6] She worked for your pappy's brother didn't she. Yes, I

knowed her well. I liked her.

"Yes miss, I'm sort of tired. It's hard to think. And I can't move about

much. But I got my home and I got my wife and we're comfortable. Thank


Interviewer's note:

I left him sitting and rocking gently in a home-made hickory stationary

swing eyes half closed looking out across his yard and basking in the

warm sunshine of late afternoon.


[1] Units of Hot Springs National Park.

[2] Spot without soil or vegetation--broken talus rock.

[3] Home clean, well painted and cared for, two story, large lot. Rental

cottage, good condition, negro neighborhood.

[4] Bank owned and operated for and by negroes--affiliated with

headquarters of large national negro lodge.

[5] No public schools in Hot Springs until the late 70s.

[6] The Adeline Blakely of another Arkansas interview with slaves.

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