O C Hardy

Interviewer: Pernella Anderson

Person Interviewed: O. C. Hardy

El Dorado, Ark.

Age: 69

"O. C. Hardy is my name and I is 69 years old. I like [HW: lack? KWF]

a lot of being a real old time slave, but I tell you I am a slave now,

and ain't no 1800 slave. I was born way down in Louisiana. We lived on a

plantation with some white people by the name of Chick Johnson. That is

the first place I remember we ever stayin' on. My ma and pa slave for

them folks. All of the children worked like slaves. What I mean by

working like slaves--we didn't stop to get our breath until night. I was

slavin' for just the white folks then and since I got grown and married

I've been slavin' for my wife and children and the white folks. My mama

and papa went in the name of their mistress and master's name and so did

I, so we was all Hardys.

"Sixty-nine years ago the time wasn't like it is now. Everything was

different. There was no cars, no airplanes, a few buggies, no trains.

The go was ox teams and stage coaches. People used ox teams in place of

mule and horse teams. Sometimes you would see ox teams with twelve and

fourteen oxen. The ox wore yokes that sometime weigh a hundred or more

pounds. The reason of that, they were so mean they had to wear them

yokes to hold em down. One yoke would go across two oxen's heads. They

could pull--oh my!--as much as some big trucks. We made much better

crops back in the 1800s than we do now. The winters was much harder and

you know the harder the winter the better the crop year you have. We

always plowed and turned our ground over in the hard of winter--that was

in order for the cold to kill all insect and germs in the ground. You

see, worms eats up your seed and plant, and germs do your seed and plant

just like they would do your body. So we got rid of them little

hinderings. In January we was ready to get our corn ground ready for

planting, and man! we raised some crops. I recollect one year way back

yonder we had what they called a centennial snow--that was the biggest

snow that's ever been and the best crop year I ever knowed. I started

plowing when I was about eight. Before then all I can remember doin' was

bushing. After gathering crops we split rails and built fences. We

played on Sunday evening. Our sport was huntin', fishin', and bird

thrashin' and trap settin'. To catch fish easy we baited snuff and

tobacco on the hook. We used to be bad about stealin' watermelons, eggs,

chickens and sweet potatoes and slippin' way down in the woods and


"Wasn't no such things as screen windows and doors. That is some of this

1900 stuff to my knowing. Flies and mosquitos was plentiful. Our cooking

was plain boiled or fried cause we cooked on fireplaces. Wasn't no

stoves. We used all brown sugar from syrup that turned to sugar. White

sugar is about forty years old to my knowings. My ma used to cook the

best old syrup cake and syrup potatoes pudding. She knitted all our

socks and sweaters for you couldn't buy things like that because stores

was few and she spun and wove for the white folks and knitted too."

Norman Burkes Octavia George facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail