Marion Johnson

Interviewer: Mrs. Carol Graham

Person interviewed: Marion Johnson

"Howdy, Missy, glad to see you again. As you sees I'm 'bout wound up

on my cotton baskets and now I got these chairs to put bottoms in but

I can talk while I does this work cause it's not zacting like making


"'Pears like you got a cold. Now let me tell you what to do for it.

Make a tea out of pine straw and mullein leaves an' when you gets

ready for bed tonight take a big drink of it an' take some tallow and

mix snuff with it an' grease the bottom of your feets and under your

arms an' behind your ears and you'll be well in the mornin'.

"Yes'm hits right in the middle of cotton picking time now. Always

makes me think of when I was a boy. I picked cotton some but I got

lots of whippins 'cause I played too much. They was some chinquapin

trees in the fiel' and I jest natchally couldn' help stopping to pick

up some 'chanks' now an' then. I likes the fall time. It brings back

the old times on the plantation. After frost had done fell we would go

possum huntin' on bright moonlight nights and we would mostly find Mr.

Possum settin' in the 'simmon tree just helpin' hisself to them good

old ripe juicy 'simmons. We'd catch the possum an' then we'd help

ourselves to the 'simmons. Mentionin' 'simmons, my mammy sure could

make good pies with them. I can most taste them yet and 'simmon bread


"He! he! he! jes' look at that boy goin' by with that stockin' on his

head. Niggers used to wear stockings on they legs but now they wear

them on they heads to make they hair lay down.

"Since this rain we had lately my rheumatism been botherin' me some. I

is gone to cutting my fingernails on Wednesday now so's I'll have

health; an' I got me a brand new remedy too an' it's a good one. Take

live earth worms an' drop them in hot grease an' let them cook till

there's no 'semblance of a worm then let the grease cool an' grease

the rheumatic parts. You know that rheumatism done come back cause I

got out of herbs. I just got to git some High John the Conqueror root

an' fix a red flannel sack an' put it in the sack along with five

finger grass, van van oil, controllin' powder, magnetic loadstone an'

drawin' powder. Now, missy, the way I fixes that sure will ward off

evil an' bring heaps of good luck. And I just got to fix myself that.

You better let me fix you one too. If you and me had one of them

wouldn't neither one of us be ailing. You needs some lucky hand root

too to carry round with you all the time. Better let Uncle Marion fix

you up.

"Did I ever tell you I used to tell fortunes with cards? But I stopped

that cause I got my jack now and it's so much truthfuler than cards.

You 'members when I answered that question for you and missy last year

and how what I told you come true. Yes'm I never misses now. Uncle

Marion can sure help you.

"There goes sister Melissy late with her washin' ergin. You know,

Missy, niggers is always slow and late. They'll be wantin' God to wait

on them when they start to heaven. White folks is always on time and

they sings 'When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder I'll Be There', and

niggers sing 'Don't Call The Roll Till I Get There.' You know I hates

for it to get so cool. I'll have to move in off the gallery to work.

When I sits on the gallery I sees everybody pass an' changes the time

of day with them. 'Howdy, Sister Melissy. Late ergin I see.' Yes, I

sees everything that goes on from my gallery. I hates for cool weather

to come so's I have to move in.

"Ain't that a cute little feller in long pants? Lawsy me! chillun

surely dresses diffunt now from when I was a chap. I didn' know

nothin' 'bout no britches; I went in my shirt tail--didn' wear nothin'

but a big old long shirt till I was 'bout twelve. You know that little

fellow's mama had me treat him for worms. I made him a medicine of

jimson weed an' lasses for his mama to give him every morning before

breakfast an' that sure will kill 'em. Yes'm, that little fellow is

all dressed up. 'Minds me of when I used to dress up to go courtin' my

gal. I felt 'bout as dressed up as that little fellow does. I'd take

soot out of the chimney and black my shoes then take a biscuit and rub

over them to shine 'em. You know biscuits have grease in them and my

shoes looked just like they done been shined by the bootblack.

"Law, missy, I don' know nothin' to tell you this time. Maybe if you

come back I can think of something 'bout when niggers was in politics

after the war but now I just can't 'member nothin'."

Marie E Hervey Marion Johnson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail