Preston Kyles


[HW: Ex-slave, Texarkans Dist.]

Name of Interviewer: Mrs. W. M. Ball

Subject: Folk Tales.

Information given by: Preston Kyles

Place of Residence: 800 Block. Laurel St., Texarkana, Ark.

Occupation: Minister. (Age) 81

[TR: Personal information moved from bottom of form.]

One of the favorite folk songs sung to the children of a half century

ago was "Run Nigger Run, or the Patty Roll Will Get You." Few of the

children of today have ever heard this humorous ditty, and would,

perhaps, be ignorant of its meaning. To the errant negro youths of

slave times, however, this tune had a significant, and sometimes

tragic, meaning. The "patty rolls" were guards hired by the

plantations to keep the slaves from running away. The following story

is told by an ex-slave:

"When I wuz a boy, dere wuz lotsa Indians livin' about six miles frum

de plantation on which I wuz a slave. De Indians allus held a big

dance ever' few months, an' all de niggers would try to attend. On one

ob dese osten'tious occasions about 50 of us niggers conceived de idea

of goin', without gettin' permits frum de Mahster. As soon as it gets

dark, we quietly slips outen de quarters, one by one, so as not to

disturb de guards. Arrivin' at de dance, we jined de festivities wid a

will. Late dat nite one ob de boys wuz goin' down to de spring fo' to

get a drink ob water when he notice somethin' movin' in de bushes.

Gettin' up closah, he look' again when--Lawd hab mersy! Patty rollers!

A whole bunch ob 'em! Breathless, de nigger comes rushin' back, and

broke de sad news. Dem niggers wuz scared 'mos' to death, 'cause dey

knew it would mean 100 lashes for evah las' one ob dem effen dey got

caught. After a hasty consultation, Sammy, de leader, suggested a plan

which wuz agreed on. Goin' into de woods, we cuts several pieces of

grape vine, and stretches it across de pathway, where we knowed de

patty rollers would hab to come, tien' it to trees on both sides. One

ob de niggers den starts down de trail whistlin' so as to 'tract de

patty rollers 'tention, which he sho did, fo' here dey all cum,

runnin' jus' as hard as dey could to keep dem niggers frum gettin'

away. As de patty rollers hit de grape vine, stretched across de

trail, dey jus' piles up in one big heap. While all dis commotion wuz

goin' on, us niggers makes fo' de cotton fiel' nearby, and wends our

way home. We hadn' no more'n got in bed, when de mahster begin

knockin' on de door. "Jim", he yell, "Jim, open up de doah!" Jim gets

up, and opens de doah, an de mahster, wid several more men, comes in

de house. "Wheres all de niggers?" he asks. "Dey's all heah," Jim

says. De boss walks slowly through de house, countin' de niggers, an'

sho' nuf dey wuz all dere. "Mus' hab been Jim Dixon's negroes," he

says finally.

"Yes, suh, Cap'n, dey wuz a lot happen in dem times dat de mahsters

didn't know nuthin' about."

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