Mary Wright

Mary Wright:

Mary Wright, 204 W. Fourth St., Born August 1, 1865.

"I was born at Gracey, Kentucky on Mr. James Colemans far, in a log

cabin wid a dirt floor en a stick chimney.

"Folks uster weat wat dey calls a "Polanaise". Hid wat kinder like a

wrapper made of calico made wid tight in de waist en wide in de bottom.

Den I've remembers de basque waist on de over skirts dese war made real

tight waists wid a point in de back en ober de stomach. De skirt wer

real full dem a skirt ober dis ter de knees wid a big pucker on de


"My Mammy bound me out to Miss Puss Graham ter learn ter work, foh my

vittals en cloes. Miss Puss gave me a pair of red morocco shoes en I was

made so happy, I'se neber fohgot dese shoes.

"I heard my Mammy talk of "De Nigger Risin". De Klu Klux uster stick de

niggers head on er stake alongside de Cadiz road en dar de buzzards

would eat them till nuthin' was left but de bones. Dar war a sign on dis

stake dat said "Look out Nigger You are next". Us chilluns would not go

far way from dat cabin. I'se tells you dat is so. I jes knowed dat dis

Ku Klux would do dat to us sho if weuns had been catched.

"I remember wen Hopkinsville had jest a few stores en ole jew by name of

Shyer bought bones an iron en rags. Once us chilluns found some bones on

de creek bank en took dem things and wanted ter sell dem to Mr. Shyer en

he said 'take dem things way dey stink, dey aint cured up yet. Bury dem

things den bring dem back to me. Us Chilluns bed a hard time gittin home

cause we stunk so bad.'

"I remember wen we uster hev big time quilting on dem days we sho had a

big time fore we start in de morning wid a water melon feast, den weuns

quilt erwhile den a big dinner war spread out den after dinner we'd

quilt in the evening den supper and a big dance dat night, wid de banjo

a humming en us niggers a dancing, "Oh, Lawdy wat good days dem war."

"Wen we were young we uster hev parties called "Dideoos", de banjo

would play en den de girls would line up on one side of de cabin en de

boys on de tother side while the folks war a clappin en er playing why

de boys en girls wuld choose dar parrners den weuns sing:

"Ole Brer Rabbit,

Shake it, shake it,

How I love you,

Shake it, shake it.

I'd ruther play dat game dan to eat."

"We uster tap maple trees en hev big gathering foh ter make maple sugar

dat war while I lived at Gracey.

"De stage coach day war big days, wen de stage coach war a comin thru

why us little niggers would try ter keep up wid de horses en run erlong

side de coach en sometimes a man or woman would drop us a penny den dar

was sho a scramble."

"I remember wen we uster wash cloes wid a paddle. You wet dese cloes en

put soft soap in dem, the soap war made outer ash lye en grease den dese

cloes war spread on a smooth stump an beat wid paddles till dey war

clean. Den come de wooden wash board, hit war jes a piece of wood wid

rough places or ridges chiseled in hit. Wen we uster wash quilts we

uster cyt a nikasses varrek ubter eb dat made de tub deb my Mammy would

put water in dese tubs den soft soap de quilts den us chilluns would git

in de tubs in our Bare foots en tromp de dirt out."

"We uster use grease lamps, dese war made outer iron, wid a piece of

cotton rope down in de grease on dis jes send out a puny smelly light.

Dem de brass lamp came erlong hit war a little lamp wid a wich wid a

handle in er stem, no burner or nuthin hit burned coaloil but had no


"Hee, Hee, Hee, I remember arbout a story Mary Beard told ter me erbout

a slave woman dat war foolish. Her Massa couldn't git no body ter buy

her, hee, hee, hee, so he dresses her up nice en buys her a thimble en

gives her a piece of cloth ter sew on. It war right here in Hopkinsville

in front of de court house dat de block war en he sold dis woman as a

"sewing slave", en her war foolish en couldn't take er right stitch en

she sho brought a good price en wen her new Massa found out she war

foolish he sho war mad. He tried ter sell her but pshaw he bought

something he couldn't git rid of, Hee, Hee."

"Dese ole nigger slave traders uster so my Mammy said, steal de niggers

from one Massa and dey would leave at night en stay in "Campbells Cave"

den dey would take dese niggers wid a promise of freedom to Clarksville,

Tenn., sell dem again on "Mr. Dunk Morr's" slave market. Sometimes dese

niggers if dey got a new Massa dat war mean would run erway en come back

tar dar ole Massas."

"Yes I believe you can be hauted, I aint neber seed one tho but I'se

heard dem en I jest git creepy en I no's dey is around."

"Cos dreams come tru, I dont remember one now but if I'se had one ergin

I will try ter remember en tells you."

"No I aint neber seed a ghost. I feels dem sometimes en I jis shot my

eyes en pray de "Good Lawd" ter send dat ghost away."

"If youse find a horse shoe er put eber de door you will sho has good


"Thirteen has always been my lucky number. Dats follish ter thing

'Thirteen is unlucky'. Seben is lucky ter me ter. I always win when I

think of a seben."

"Of cos now if youse breakes a mirror you cant keep from having bad

luck. Nuthin you do will keep you from hit."

"Sho is bad luck ter meet a cross-eyed pusson er blue gummed niggers is

pizen cause if one bites you youse will sho ter die."

"My Mammy sho did hev a big wedding my Pappys Massa ask my Mammy Massa

foh her en den my Mammy Massa give her a big infair dat cost him $200.00

wid de bridal supper en all."

"Dey uster do niggers pretty bad erbout dat funerals. Wen a nigger did

die why de rest of de niggers hed ter work en one nigger made de box

whiler ernother nigger dug de grave en the nigger war jes civered up en

den on de Fourth Sunday in August ebery year all de colored folks would

take a basket dinner ter de church en each family dat had buried a

nigger would pay de preacher ter preach the sermon foh dat darkie dat

died. We ate dinner en supper at de church en sometimes the funeral foh

some fo de darkies wouldn't git preached till next August. We went to

dis funeral why we had big time talking wid our neighbors en of de


"Dogs howling meand bad luck if he howls under de house why someone is

goin ter die."

"If er owl come around de house on holler a death will happen in de

family fore de next day."

"I remembers I wat a sitting in de house en er peckerwood war a pecking

on de house 'Pure bad luck.'"

"I was working once foh Mrs. Shelton wen a little wren kept trying ter

git in de house an I kep a shosin hit arway wen he got in somehow jes as

soon as hit did Mrs. Shelton called me en I had a telegram from Chicago

my neice war dead. She by dat I nos dat am bad luck. I dont like wrens

any how."

"Wenn a cow loses hits cud, jes giv hit an old dirty dish rag en den de

cow will ding her cud again."

"Sometimes a cow gits sich en lay down en if you will fell her tail on

de end it is all soft, 'Dat cow hot holler tail, en less you split dat

tail en fill de holler wid salt den bind hit up dat cow will sholy


"I asked Mary if she was superstitious and she said 'no, cos niggers are

edicatted dese days en dey don believe in all dat tom-foolery. Dey neber

would benn so foolish if de white folks did not tell us all dat rot.'"

Mary neither reads or writes and is not superstitious according to her

admission. What do you think of it. I am afraid that I do not agree

with. M.D.H.)

Mary Wooldrige Matilda Bass facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail