Narcissus Young



Rear 532 1st Street No.

Nashville, Tennessee

"I'se 96 y'ars ole. Bawn in slavery en mah marster wuz Isham Lamb en

mah missis wuz Martha Lamb. Mah mammy d'ed w'en I wuz three y'ars ole

en I wuz raised in de house 'til I wuz big 'nuff ter wuk out in de

fiels wid de uthers. Mah missis l'arn me ter sew, weav en spin. I also

he'lped ter cook en wuk in de house. Atter I got big'er I went ter

chuch wid mah white folks en had ter set wid urther slaves in dat part

ob de chuch whar nobody but slaves would be 'lowed. In slavery I'se

git no money fer wuk'n but I don' steal as mah white folks sho gib me

en de uther slaves plenty good things ter eat. Clothes good 'nuff fer

anybody, candy, en we went ter parties en urther places, en w'at else

could I'se wan'?"

"Mah missis l'arned me ter pray, "Now I lay me down ter sleep. I pray

de Lawd mah soul ter keep, but if I should die 'fore I wake, I pray de

Lawd mah soul ter tek." I jined de Primitive Baptist Chuch w'ile young

en b'en dere ebe'y since."

"I member de ole song back dere, "Rock a Bye Baby, Yo Daddy's gon' a

Huntin' ter git a Rabbit Skin ter put de Baby in."

"I wuz whup'd by mah missis fer things dat I ought'n dun, but dat wuz

rite. De hahdest whup'in she eber gib me wuz 'bout two hen aigs. I had

gathured de aigs in a bucket en tuk dem ter de house en I se'd de big

fier in de fier-place so I tuk out two ob de aigs en put dem in de hot

ashes ter bake. Mah missis se'd de aigs en axed who put dem dere. I

tole her I didunt do hit, but she knowed I did. So she tole me she

don' keer 'bout de two aigs, but dat she wuz gwine ter whup me fer

tellin' a lie. Dey don't raise chilluns lak dat now."

"I don't b'leeve in Niggers en whites ma'rin' en I wuz raised by de

"quality" en I'se b'leeves eber one should ma'rie in dere culor."

"I think de young peeples ob ter day ez dogs en sluts, en yer kin

guess de rest."

"One day 'bout 12 o'clock we se'd de Yankee soldiers pas' our house.

De missus hid her fine things, but dey don' kum on de place. All us

Niggers run ter de cellar en hid. We found de sugah barrels en we

scracht 'round fer sum sugah ter eat."

"One time de Ku Klux Klan kum ter our house but dey harm nobody. Guess

day wuz lookin' fer sum slave er sum one fum 'nother plantation widout

dere marster's pass."

"I se'd a lot ob sta'rs fall one time but dey neber teched de groun'.

En I members seein' a comet wid a long bright shinin' tail."

"Atter freedom all de slaves lef' de plantation but I stayed dere a

long time. I kum ter Nashville ovah thurty y'ars ago en I'se wuk'd as

cook en house wuk'r twenty y'ars fer one party; eleben y'ars fer

'nother, en menny y'ars fer 'nother. I knows you won't b'leeve me but

at one time I weigh ovuh 400 pounds, but now I'm nothin' but skin en

bon'. (She weighs at least 200 pounds now). I bekum feeble en couldn't

wuk out, en eber since den I'se bin kum' up a mountain, but now I git

he'ps by de Social Security."

* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes

Corrected the typos per handwritten instructions. The inconsistencies

in spelling and punctuation have been left as in the original text,

except for adding the missing opening and closing quotation marks for

consistency in certain interviews.

One word at the bottom of page 25 was illegible, but upon careful

examination at high magnification, and considering that the other

interviewers asked whether families were divided, my best guess is

the word may be men: Nebber knowed ob any plantashuns men be divided.

Nannie P Madden Nathan Jones facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail