Mandy Tucker

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Mandy Tucker

1021 E. 11th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 80?

"I was here in slavery times but I don't know what year I was born. War?

I was in it!

"I member old master and old mistis too. I member I didn't know nothin'

bout my mother and father cause it was night when they went to work and

night when they come in and we chilluns would be under the bed asleep.

"I know the white folks had a kitchen full of we chilluns. We went over

to the kitchen to eat.

"My mother belonged to the Cockrills and my father belonged to the

Armstrongs. They were cousins and their plantations joined.

"I was large enough to know when they took my parents to Texas, but I

didn't know how serious it was till they was gone. I member peepin'

through the crack of the fence but I didn't know they was takin' em off.

"They left me with the old doctor woman. She doctored both white and

colored. I stayed there till I was fourteen years old.

"I know we had our meals off a big wooden tray but we had wooden spoons

to eat with.

"I member when they was fightin' here at Pine Bluff. I was standin' at

the overseer's bell house waitin' for a doll dress a girl had promised

me and the guns was goin' just like pop guns. We didn't know what it was

to take off our shoes and clothes for six months. We was ready to run if

they broke in on us.

"The Yankees had their headquarters at the big house near the river. All

this was in woods till I growed up. We used to have our picnic here.

"I was standin' right at the post when they rung the bell in the bell

house when peace declared. I heered the old folks sayin, 'We is free, we

is free!'

"I know before freedom they wouldn't let us burn a speck of light at

night. Had these little iron lamps. They'd twist wicks and put em in

tallow. I don't know whether it was beef or sheep tallow but they had

plenty of sheeps on the place.

"Colonel Cockrill would have us come up to the big house every Sunday

mornin' and he'd give us a apple or a stick of candy. But them that was

big enough to work wouldn't get any. They worked on Sunday too--did the

washin' every Sunday evenin'.

"Oh lord, they had a big plantation.

"After the War I went to school some. We had white teachers from the

North. I didn't get to go much except on rainy days. Other times I had

to work. I got so I could read print but I can't read writin'. I used to

could but since I been sick seems like my mind just hops off.

"After freedom my parents rented land and farmed. I stayed with the old

doctor woman till I was fourteen then I went to my parents.

"I married when I was eighteen and had five chillun. When I worked for

my father he'd let us quit when we got tired and sit under the shade

bushes. But when I married I had to work harder than ever. My husband

was just a run-around. He'd put in a crop and then go and leave it.

Sometimes he was a constable. Finally he went off and took up with

another woman.

"I been here in Arkansas all my life except eight months I lived in St.

Louis, but I didn't like it. When I was in St. Louis I know it started

to snow. I thought it was somebody pickin' geese. I said, 'What is

that?' and my granddaughter said, 'Gal, that's snow.'

"I don't know what to think of the younger generation. I think they is

just goin' out to nothin'. They say they are gettin' weaker and wiser

but I think they are weaker and foolish--they are not wise in the right

way. Some are very good to their parents and some are not.

"Honey, I don't know how things is goin'--all I know is they is mighty

tight right now."

Mandy Thomas Manuel Johnson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail