Neely Gray


Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Neely Gray

818 E. Fifteenth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 87

"I was born in Virginia. Dr. Jenkins bought my mother from a man named

Norman. Brought us here on the boat. I know I was walkin' and talkin'. I

don't remember about the trip, but I remember they said they had to keep

me out from fallin' in the river. I was too playified to remember

anything about it.

"Durin' the War I was a girl six or seven years old. Big enough to nuss

my mother's next chile, and she was walkin' and talkin' 'fore surrender.

"My mother was pushin' a hundred when she died. I was her oldest chile.

Sold with her.

"Dr. Jenkins had three women and all of 'em had girls. Raised up in the

house. Dr. Jenkins said, 'Doggone it, I want my darkies right back of my

chair.' He never did 'buse his colored folks. He was a 'cepted

(exceptional) man--so different. I never saw the inside of the quarters.

"Dr. Jenkins' house wasn't far from the river. You could hear the boats

goin' up and down all night.

"I was scared of the Yankees 'cause they always p'inted a gun at me to

see me run. They'd come in the yard and take anything they wanted, too.

"After surrender mama went and cooked for a man named Hardin.

"Hardest time I ever had was when I got grown and had to take care of my

mother and sister. Worked in the field.

"I was married out from behind a plow. Never farmed no more.

"My fust husband was a railroad man. I tried to keep up with him but he

went too fast; I couldn't keep up. He got so bad they finally

black-balled him from the road.

"I tell you nobody knows what it is till you go through with it. I've

had my bitters with the sweet.

"Been married four times and I've buried two husbands. I just raised one

chile and now she's dead. But I got great-grandchillun--third

generation--in Houston, Texas, but I never hear from 'em.

"I get along all right. The Welfare helps me and I try to live right."

Needham Love Negro Customs Peter Hamilton facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail