Writer Jayne Lucille B
Material from Upper Guinea.
In the upper part of Guinea, generally known as the "Hook," you will
find two very interesting characters, both Negroes. Aunt Susan Kelly,
who is a hundred years old, and Simon Stokes, who is near a hundred.
Aunt Susan is loved by all who know her, for she is a very lovable old
Aunt Susan's Story
"My mammy, Anna Burrell, was a slave, her massa wuz Col. Hayes, of
Woodwell; he wuz very good ter his slaves. He nebber sold mammy or us
chilluns; he kept we alls tergether, and we libed in a little cabin in
"My job wuz mindin' massa's and missus' chilluns all dey long, and
puttin' dem ter baid at night; dey had ter habe a story told ter dem
befo' dey would go ter sleep; and de baby hed ter be rocked; and I had
ter sing fo' her 'Rock a-by baby, close dem eyes, befo' old san man
comes, rock a-by baby don' let old san man cotch yo' peepin',' befo' she
would go ter sleep.
"Mammy used ter bake ash-cakes; dey wuz made wid meal, wid a little salt
and mixed wid water; den mammy would rake up de ashes in de fire-place;
den she would make up de meal in round cakes, and put dem on de hot
bricks ter bake; wen dey hed cooked roun' de edges, she would put ashes
on de top ob dem, and wen dey wuz nice and brown she took dem out and
washed dem off wid water.
"Mammy said it wuz very bad luck ter meet a woman early in de mornin'
walkin'; and nebber carry back salt dat yo' habe borrowed, fo' it will
bring bad luck ter yo' and ter de one yo' brung it ter. If yo' nose
iches on de right side a man is comin', if de lef' side iches a woman is
comin'; if it iches on de end a man and woman is sho' ter come in a
"For a hawk ter fly ober de house is sho' sign ob death, fo' de hawk
will call corpses wen he flies ober."
* * * * *
Simon Stokes, son of Kit and Anna Stokes, is quite a type. He and his
parents with his brothers and sisters were slaves; owned by George W.
Billups, of Mathews County, who later moved to Gloucester County and
bought a farm near Gloucester Point. They had eleven children, Simon is
the only one living.
"Massa George and missus wuz good ter his slaves. My mammy wuz missus'
cook; and him and de odder boys on de farm worked in de co'n and de
terbaccer and cotton fields.
"Me sho' didn't lik dat job, pickin' worms off de terbaccer plants; fo'
our oberseer wuz de meanes old hound you'se eber seen, he hed hawk eyes
fer seein' de worms on de terbaccer, so yo' sho' hed ter git dem all, or
you'd habe ter bite all de worms dat yo' miss into, or [SP: ot] git
three lashes on yo' back wid his old lash, and dat wuz powful bad,
wusser dan bittin' de worms, fer yo' could bite right smart quick, and
dat wuz all dat dar wuz ter it; but dem lashes done last a pow'ful long
"Me sho' did like ter git behind de ox-team in de co'n field, fo' I
could sing and holler all de day, 'Gee thar Buck, whoa thar Peter, git
off dat air co'n, what's de matter wid yo' Buck, can't yo hear, gee thar
"In de fall wen de simmons wuz ripe, me and de odder boys sho' had a big
time possum huntin', we alls would git two or three a night; and we alls
would put dem up and feed dem hoe-cake and simmons ter git dem nice and
fat; den my mammy would roast dem wid sweet taters round them. Dey wuz
sho' good, all roasted nice and brown wid de sweet taters in de graby.
"We alls believed dat it wuz bad luck ter turn back if yer started
anywher, if yo' did bad luck would sho' foller yer; but ter turn yo'
luck, go back and make a cross in yo' path and spit in it."
Wm Ball Wylie Nealy