Letha Johnson

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Letha Johnson

2203 W. Twelfth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 77

"I heered the people say I was born in time of slavery. I was born

durin' of the War.

"And when we went back home they said we had been freed four years.

"My father's last owner was named Crawford. He was a awful large man.

That was in Monroe County, Mississippi.

"I know they was good to us 'cause we stayed right there after freedom

till my father died in 1889. And mama stayed a year or two, then she

come to Arkansas.

"After my husband died in 1919, I went to Memphis. Then this girl I

raised--her mother willed her to me--I come here to Arkansas to live

with her after I got down with the rheumatism so I couldn't wash and


"In my husband's lifetime I didn't do nothin' but farm. And after I

went to Memphis I cooked. Then I worked for a Italian lady, but she

did her own cookin'. And oh, I thought she could make the best


"I used to spin and make soap. My last husband and I was married

fifteen years and eight months and we never did buy a bar of soap. I

used to be a good soap maker. And knit all my own socks and stockin's.

"I used to go to a school-teacher named Thomas Jordan. I remember he

used to have us sing a song

'I am a happy bluebird

Sober as you see;

Pure cold water

Is the drink for me.

I'll take a drink here

And take a drink there,

Make the woods ring

With my temperance prayer.'

We'd all sing it; that was our school song. I believe that's the

onliest one I can remember.

"'Bout this younger generation--well, I tell you, it's hard for me to

say. It just puts me to a wonder. They gone a way back there. Seem

like they don't have any 'gard for anything.

"I heard 'em 'fore I left Mississippi singin'

'Everybody's doin' it, doin' it.'

"'Co'se when I was young they was a few that was wild, but seem like

now they is all wild. But I feels sorry for 'em."

Leroy Day Lettie Nelson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail