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American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
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Stories Presented Exactly as Written.
Look at bottom of this page for stories.
Documents 1 through 20 of 73 Page One
1 [An Air-Minded Family]
2 [Bargain House]
3 [Bea, The Washwoman]
4 [The Boarding House]
5 [The Capital City Insurance Company]
6 [A Change of Vocation Brings Success]
7 [Cindy Wright]
8 [Cosmetics and Coal]
9 [Cotton and Horseshoes]
10 [A Day in a Store]
11 [De Trubles I's Seen]
12 [The Depression was a Republican Trick]
13 [E. W. Evans, Brick Layer & Plasterer]
14 [Edward Walcott]
15 [Elam Franklin Dempsey]
16 [Ernest Gerber]
17 [The Family of an Automobile Worker]
18 [A Farming Preacher-Prophet]
19 [God Helped Us]
20 [A Good Investment]

Documents 41 through 60 of 73 Page Three
41 [The Man Who Out Thought the Other Fellow]
42 [Merchandise on the Toboggan]
43 [Mildred Lawson]
44 [The More Modest Among Us]
45 [Mr. Doolittle]
46 [Mr. Richard]
47 [Mr. Thomas J. Henry]
48 [Mr. Trout]
49 [Mrs. Brown]
50 [Mrs. Janie Bradberry Harris]
51 [Mrs. Lelia Bramblett]
52 [Mrs. Margaret Davis]
53 [Mrs. Margaret Davis]
54 [Mrs. Marguerite R. Thomas]
55 [Mrs. Whelchel]
56 [My Ups and Downs]
57 [Negro Life on a Farm]
58 [New Way Dry Cleaning and Laundry]
59 [The Orchid Beauty Shop]
60 [The Patent Medicine Vendor]

Documents 21 through 40 of 73 Page Two
21 [Honesty and Fairness to the Bitter End]
22 [Hopes 'at Somebody Will Come Along]
23 [The House of Flowers]
24 [I Ain't No Midwife]
25 [I am Reaping in Tears]
26 [I Been 'Voted to Horses All My Days]
27 [I Got a Record]
28 ["I is a Baptist"]
29 [I Managed to Carry On]
30 [I Saw the Stars]
31 [I Want to Die in Peace]
32 [I Wanted to be a Merchant]
33 [I'm Planning to Make a Come Back]
34 [I'se a Fast 'Oman]
35 [In Lieu of Something Better]
36 [It Wasn't So Easy]
37 [Janice]
38 [Jilson Littlejohn, Preacher]
39 [Life During Confederate Days]
40 [Making the Best of It]
Documents 61 through 73 of 73 Page Four
61 ["The Poppy Lady"]
62 [Principal of Grammar School]
63 [Recovery]
64 [Reminiscence]
65 [Reminiscence of a Negro Preacher]
66 [Reminiscences and Recollections]
67 [The Successful Farmer]
68 [The Sunshine Lady]
69 [Unable to Stage a Comeback]
70 [The Unwelcome Caller]
71 [A Visit to a Flower Shop]
72 [A Visit with Aunt Joe]
73 [Women and the Changing Times]

 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 41 of 73
[The Man Who Out Thought the Other Fellow]
THE MAN WHO OUT-THOUGHT THE OTHER FELLOW
A Depression Victim Story
Written by: Mrs. Ada Radford
Augusta, Ga.
Edited by: Mrs. Leila H. Harris
Supervising Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Area 7
Augusta, Georgia
January 18, 1940
Yancie Lee Jennings
1272 Broad Street
Augusta, Georgia
January 4, 1940
A. R.
THE MAN WHO OUT-THOUGHT THE OTHER FELLOW
"Yes I have made quite a good come-back." Paul Harrison said complacently. He glanced around with satisfaction at his almost now equipment and the recently installed neon lighting that conformed to the predominant black and white of the establishment.
"After you have heard the whole story," he went on, "I believe you will agree with me that I owe it entirely to my ability to out-think the other fellow."
The Star Dry Clean Plant, which Harrison owns and operates, is modern in every respect. Paul is an enormous person, weighing approximately 380 pounds. As I entered he was seated behind the 12 foot counter, upon which were placed a cash register and a bag used to tag garments as they were brought in.
Despite his mammoth size Harrison is always extremely neat and clean. On this morning he was wearing navy blue, pinstriped trousers, a brown sweater, and a brown checked cap. A stickpin, an elk's head studded with diamonds, [adorned?] his blue and brown-striped tie. He is about 5 feet 4 inches, his hair is snowy white, and his gray eyes are seen through rimmed glasses.
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"Shall I start at the beginning? he asked, "Or shall I just relate the trying personal experiences that plunged my business to rock bottom, and of how I re-instated myself absolutely on credit and the rest by honest dealing with the people of Augusta?"
"Please let me have the whole story." I answered quickly. "Right from the day of your birth."
"Well, I was borne in Graniteville, South Carolina, January 22, 1822. I was the only boy and I had two sisters. By the way, my only living sister has been employed as a switchboard operator at the University Hospital since its completion in 1916.
"I attended grammar school at [Vaucluse?] and Langly, South Carolina, and finished the fifth grade when I was twelve years old. Then my parents moved to Augusta and I started to work in the weaving room at the Enterprise Cotton Mill and worked there for two years.
"About this time a cousin of mine who was foreman of the machine shop at the Augusta Mill, offered me an apprenticeship, which I completed in three years. All during that time I was attending night school conducted by Professor Otis, who afterwards became principal of John Milledge School.
"With the machinist's trade at my finger ends I felt capable of supporting a wife and I married Eva Madrin on December 14, 1902.
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We furnished our home comfortably and settled down contentedly to be just good citizens of Augusta.
"Our plans were soon upset for a friend of mine who had gone to Atlanta to work in the railroad machine shops, wrote me that they were in need of machinists and that he had given my name and address to the master-mechanic. I hadn't considered making a change but finally after receiving an offer with quite an increase in salary I said to my wife:
"Do you want to move to Atlanta?"
"'Yes,' she said, 'If you do.'
"That very day I had my furniture crated and left to report for work at the Atlanta shops.
"Everything went along fine for 14 months and then I was laid up for several weeks with a badly mashed foot. As soon as I was able to get about, my wife and I decided to come home.
"Her mother and mine insisted that we stay in Augusta, so as soon as I could walk real well I went to work for the Atlantic Ice and Coal Company. After some time I received such a good offer from the Lombard Machine Shops, that I left and went there to work. I was also employed for at short time at the Georgia Iron Works. My last work as a machinist was helping with the installation of machinery at the Atlantic Ice and Coal Company's plant on Fenwick Street.
"There were two reasons why I gave up working at my trade.
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First, business was not so good and second, I had developed gland trouble that was causing me to put on weight very rapidly. At that time I weighed 230 pounds and was getting too heavy on my feet to follow my regular occupation.
"Now I was confronted with the problem of finding a new way to make a living." Paul continued. "While I was in Atlanta I met two young men who lived near me. These boys had no trade and very little capital. They had conceived the idea of washing overalls at their home and, in about a year they were operating a full-fledged laundry which kept four trucks busy. I just thought to myself, if they could be that successful in Atlanta, why couldn't I do as well in Augusta.
"I had a long talk with my wife about it and she said that she would be glad to help me. At that time we had a very small back yard. Then came the problem of equipment. I bought two large washpots and several syrup barrels. I sawed the latter in halves to use for tubs. Next I hired two colored women and after I had purchased a two wheeled hand cart I was ready to get out and solicit some business.
"My first work was obtained from the railroad and machine shops. I called for and delivered the overalls each week for 50 cents a pair.
"In a few months my customers began to suggest that I expand my business and start doing their suits as well. One fellow
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brought me a dirty, greasy coat and said '[Fatty?], take this coat that I have been using for a sweater; wash the devil out of it and it comes clean anything will and you won't have to worry about hurting the fellows' suits.
"I decided to try it and carried the coat to my wife. She [sewed?] just half of it in a heavy cloth sack. I washed and pressed the other half with startling results. It looked as good as new. Then I decided to use this coat as an advertisement. I was immediately accused by several people of taking an old and new coat and sewing the halves together.
"I soon found that cleaning suits was more than I had bargained for, but as the men all agreed not to hold me responsible for fading or shrinkage, I said I would try. So, with a scrub brush and soap I cleaned my first suit. We wrung the garments out by hand and pressed them wit a 22-pound hand iron that was heated on a gas stove. Scrubbing suits was much cleaner work than washing overalls and it was much more profitable for I received $1.25 per suit.
"I soon discarded the push cart and bought/ a bicycle. Work kept on coming in and soon it was too much for the bicycle. My business was going beyond my wildest expectations. Soon it was too much to be conducted at my home so I rented a store, at the rear of the [Malton?] Way Drug Company, that was fronted on Young street and opened a first-class pressing club. I contracted with the Holley Wagon works to build me a truck to cost
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$185.00 and say! When that truck was finished with its glass doors and Harrison Pressing Club painted on its sides I began to feel like a real business man.
"I moved my residence to Walton Way next door to a vacant lot. The owner agreed to give me five years rent in exchange for my building a place large enough to house my pressing club. I bought the lumber and erected a place 22 x 40 feet. Then I kept adding to it until it reached the fence. Business was booming, but just about this time the War Department was beginning to draft married men and my pressers were expecting to be called.
"Camp Hancock had been established about five miles from the city and the soldiers had now way to get back and forth. Expecting my pressers to be taken from me, I decided that maybe I could make more money operating [jitney?] to and from Camp Hancock, then I could with my pressing club, especially if my helpers were drafted.
"A friend of mine was anxious to buy the business, and with the proviso that I wouldn't open another pressing club within a year, I sold it to him.
"I purchased a seven-passenger red car and took out a license to haul soldiers to and from the city. For a little better than six months I mad more money than I could ever have expected at the pressing club. That field soon got overcrowded,
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however, and nobody made anything.
"When the year was up I opened another pressing club at Sandy Beaver's corner and from there I moved to D'Antignae Street. It was then I began to use mineral spirits for cleaning and I bought a gas presser. Business was good and my friends urged me to move down-town into a larger place. So I rented the storehouse at 7th and Ellis Streets and stayed there for four years. Then my lease expired and the place was sold to the Gulf Refining Company.
"Rents were very high at this time and I found a place to suit me at 7th and Fenwick Streets I had to pay $60 rent. I bought quite a bit of equipment, did a lot of repairing and moved in. I was operating three trucks and had two bicycle boys. Prices remained about the same, $1.25 and up, and I was averaging $600 a week with a net profit of $100. All of my equipment was paid for and now I could plan to do some of the things I had always wanted to do. Mainly, to build a home where and how I wanted it. I bought a lot on [?] road and built a 6-room bungalow that cost $3,500. My wife had never been so happy and she spent most of her time in her flower garden. It seemed to me that she was always planting bulbs. Then one night I went home and found her crying. She finally told me that the ants had raided her garden, and had eaten all of her bulbs
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leaving only the husks.
"'It's no use Paul, I must go to a florist and find out what to do about it, there must be some way.' So the next day we went on the war-path against the ants. "Another of the things I wanted to do was have a nice car for our own use. I bought a 5-passenger Buick and after I had done these two things I still had enough to do the third thing, which was to have a nice bank account.
"One day a drummer for a Dry Cleaning Supply Company came into my place and seeing the volume of business I had he offered me $100 a month rent if I would let him have the place. I agreed, never dreaming that he was in earnest. But he came back on the first of the month and insisted that I stick to my word.
"I really didn't mind so very much I was anxious to take a rest and was glad for the opportunity.
"Everything went well for several months, then I learned that the man was behind with his rent and he had a great many unpaid bills. This worked a hardship on me for everything was still in my name. I asked him some questions and he admitted that he was unable to make a go of the business and asked me to relieve him of it.
"There was nothing else for me to do as I had no contract and he had nothing with which to pay. So I took it over
Page 9
with an indebtedness of several hundred dollars. Bright and early the next morning I was on the job and before very long I had paid the bills and began to make money.
"Everybody will tell you that competition is the life of business. I didn't find it so for soon another dry cleaning firm opened a cash and carry business close to me, cutting prices in half. I soon realized I couldn't stay at that location and in order to meet their competition I moved on the 800 Block of Broad Street, sold two of my trucks and operated a cash and carry business. I paid $125 a month rent. This increased my overhead and decreased my income. I had a business from $300 to $400 a week with only a $50 profit.
"This price cutting hurt business considerably and everybody began to talk "depression." I was satisfied and felt that I was still getting my share.
"One Friday morning in 1931, I went down and opened up as usual. There seemed to be something wrong but I didn't figure it out until I happened to notice the clothes racks. Every garment that was ready for Saturday delivery was gone. I hurriedly looked in the cases; they were also empty. The open window at the rear of the store told the grim story.
"I called the police department out but no trace of the burglars was ever found. The missing garments amounted to
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more than $1,000 and I didn't have a penny's worth of burglar insurance.
"I notified my customers through the newspapers that I would reimburse them for all stolen articles. This must be done from my own funds but I couldn't do anything else.
"I thought I knew people but I found out I had a lot to learn. Some were reasonable and considerate. They realized that they should only expect me to pay for worn articles. Others demanded new prices and even more. What could I do? I had said I would pay.


"Then I had to resort to my bank account. I drew everything I had out of the bank and started to pay up. I soon found that I had more claims than cash. I paid as best I could and the funny thing to me was that many of the customers whom I was unable to pay immediately carried their work to other places. I guess there's a lot of truth in the saying: 'When a fellow's down, keep knocking.'
"By this time the depression was on in full swing. There was no way to borrow money for many of the banks were closing. I soon realized that I had made the serious mistake of turning loose all of my cash and now there was nothing left for operating expenses. I couldn't pay my rent and I had to release the greater part of my help. My wife offered to come down and fill in one of the vacancies.
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"Then things happened in rapid succession. First our home went. Then I laid the truck aside and used my personal car.
"Did you sell your truck?" I interrupted.
"Sell it," he said contemptuously. "Who do you think would buy a truck? I couldn't even give it away. I was now down to my last dollar and had decided to close up, when one of the ladies who was working for me asked me to allow her and her father to operate the place."
At this point I stopped him again: "But, Mr. Harrison, if you couldn't make a go of it with all your experience, how in the world could she expect to even clear expenses?"
"I don't know." he replied. "Unless it was that they weren't in debt and had a little money besides. Then you know, too, I have lived long enough to know that the other fellow always thinks he can handle your problems better than you can, if he was just given a chance. So I agreed. They were to pay me $35 a month for the use of the equipment.
"In the meantime I sold my automobile for what I could get and signed over my equipment to the real estate agent as security for the rent. The woman and her father paid me for the use of the equipment for about five months and I thought they were paying the rent. When I learned that it wasn't being paid I felt that this was the last straw.
"I went to the real estate agent and explained the whole situation to him. Of course he knew all about it beforehand
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and he said to me: 'Paul, these are hazardous times. We are all wondering what another week or month will bring forth. You always paid when you had it and my advice to you is to go and take your old place over and run it yourself. Start now and pay your rent by the week and don't worry about the back rent until your business picks up.'
"Very much encouraged over his attitude I said:
"'Thank you, I'll follow your advice immediately and try once more. This time I'll operate strictly on a cash and carry basis and pay as I go. If I don't have the cash on hand to buy cleaning fluid, I just won't buy it.'
"I got busy and to obtain the cash necessary to begin again, I sold my $300 diamond ring for $100, and my banjo that cost me $150 for $50. Then I opened for business and solicited customers. I offered to do work for prices that would scarcely enable me to meet expenses, in order to get some business.
"Here I had struck another snag. You see, I still owed some money on the stolen clothing and everybody thought that because I had re-opened I now had sufficient money to pay for the rest of them. In reality I was sinking deeper in debt. Before long my nerves were shot to pieces with the strenuous effort I had made to hold on to my business until the economic crisis was over. Finally, one morning in the latter part of 1931, I walked into the real estate office and threw
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the keys on the counter. I was through. My last dollar was gone.
"The real estate man just asked if I would run the place until he could get a sale for the equipment. He said that I might have whatever I could take in.
"That was not much of an offer, for the dry cleaning business was as dead as Hector. Everybody had long ago come the conclusion that they could wear dirty clothes, but it wasn't a bit pleasant to go hungry. Even the people who could afford to have work done were scared to death to part with a dollar.
"Early in 1932, my friend, the real estate man, sold the equipment to a man at Thompson, Georgia for $1,100. And so I had to stand there and see the things that I had worked so hard for moved out of my place - and to Thomson.
"My wife and I moved into the house with her mother and her brother and I began to look around for some way to bear our part of the expenses. In February 1933, I located an old empty store on 12th street that I could rent almost at my own figure. I wrote to the man in Thomson and asked him if he would sell me one of my boilers and a presser on credit. He shipped it to me immediately and my wife and I worked together and made another start - buying and paying by the week.
"Just as I was clearing a little more than bare expenses,
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a man who was out of work came to me and asked me that I let him work for me; that he would be glad for just what I could pay him. That he would be only too glad for the chance to make a dollar. I hired him and gave him the press to operate.
"Now let me put you wise to something. If anybody offers to do anything for you for nothing - that's just what it's worth. In a short time my protege had offered the man at Thomson slightly more than I was paying on the boiler and press and he let him have it.
"Well it ended as things like that usually end. Before very long the place was closed and the man left for parts unknown.
"I had really hit bottom this time. I was out of work, no business and no money. But we had to eat and this was certainly no time to hold one's hands and await a miracle. I was sure there must be some business that I could get and I determined to make one more attempt to get a foot-hold.
"I rented the store on the corner of Walton Way and Young street, bought a boiler and an extractor from a friend of mine and opened for business. My wife and I lived in the room at the rear of the store and worked early to late. She mended and altered garments and after a time we were breaking even. And we were so thankful to have a place to live and to be able to eat.
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"In those trying days I never advanced a great deal without a set-back. This time the store was sold and I had to find another location. Fortune smiled on me a little this time, for I was able to get the place I had operated my first plant. I moved in and built a small place in the yard. I had no equipment to take care of dry cleaning so I sent all of my work to another plant and we did the pressing.
"I only had one presser then but before I left that location I had three pressers and had saved enough to make a down payment on a small dry cleaning plant.
"Then I decided to plunge in and take a big chance on a come-back. It was an awful risk in the face of what had gone before but this place which I now occupy was vacant and I rented it and moved in.
"I still had a lot of faith in the people of Augusta and believed that if I tried hard enough I could get their business. I had always done my best to warrant their good will. I had refused to go into bankruptcy and had paid my debts even though it had taken everything in the world I had.
"The venture proved successful and after two years I had paid for my equipment. A small plant offered me a good price for it and as I again felt the urge to expand I let them have it.
"I bought the very latest and most highly improved
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machines and now I have one of the best equipped plants in the city. I run four pressers and use a steam iron for ladies' work.
"If I am spared a few more months I will have paid for my equipment which is valued at $5,000. I now employ eight people with an average payroll of $100 a week. Some of them work on a commission basis.
"It's been a tough uphill fight and I've had lots of people to do everything in their power to deprive me of my business, my credit, and even my self respect. I can truthfully say, however, that nobody battled to give me the opportunity to regain what I had lost. And I repeat I have what I have solely because of my ability to out-think the other fellow."
Harrison attends all of the Baptist Churches. He sings tenor and helps in the choir where he is most needed. He picks a banjo and is greatly interested in everything musical.
As an afterthought he said jokingly:
"And now I'll tell you why I never joined any of the Baptist churches. My size is too great for their baptizing equipment."
 
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 42 of 73
[Merchandise on the Toboggan]
Life Stories Feb 1940
MERCHANDISE ON THE TOBOGGAN
A Depression Victim Story
Written by: Mrs. Daisy Thompson
Augusta, Georgia
Edited by: Mrs. Leila H. Harris
Supervising Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Area 7
Augusta, Georgia
February, 7 1940.
J. T. Bothwell, Merchant
613 Broad Street
Augusta, Georgia
February 5, 1940
D. T.
MERCHANDISE ON THE TOBOGGAN
"I don't think there is the least doubt about a general improvement in business." Said William Anderson, who is the head at the firm that bears his name. "There is much more money in circulation. People are buying new automobiles, are spending more money for pleasure and are even beginning to resume the purchase of luxuries that have been beyond their reach for the past several years. Times are gradually changing and money is beginning to drift through different channels.
"And now to start at the beginning, I was born and reared in Augusta, and obtained my elementary education at the Davidson Grammar School, which is located on the 1200 block of Telfair Street. Then for some reason I didn't attend High School in Augusta, but graduated at [Hephzibah?], Georgia. No, I didn't go to college.
"I wanted to go to work so, after my graduation I started working for my father, who was in business with a Mr. Brown. The firm at that time was known as Brown and Anderson. Dad paid me $40.00 a month."
"This conversation seems to gather momentum as we go along," Anderson said with a grin. "Suppose we repair to
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my little office at the rear of the store. Its small but I think you will be very comfortable." The remainder of our interview took place in the very tiny enclosure that served in this capacity. There were quite a number or interruptions, for Mr. Anderson is a busy man and his business reaches out into the trade territory adjacent to Augusta.
"I hadn't been working very long when one day my father called me into his office and said:
" 'son, before you settle down to steady work, I should like for you to travel for about a year. Look around and see if one of your friends would care to go to Europe with you.'
"This was not hard to do for almost immediately I found a boy who was eager to go along. And to make it more interesting we decided to use bicycles as our mode of transportation.
"In this manner we covered the ground thoroughly and we were able to come in direct contact with the natives. We thus became familiar with their manner of living, their habits, etc. That year in Europe was an education in itself.
"We soon became aware that the natives, even the French people, had a more friendly feeling for Americans than they had for Englishmen. We got our information on this point in
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rather a unique manner:
"My friend and I purchased our bicycles and our suits in England. Consequently we were taken for Englishmen. On one occasion when we were in a French cafe, we started to converse with several Frenchmen. After quite a while we mentioned something about our home in America. When these men found we were really Americans they jumped up and shook hands with us, although they had been talking to us for quite some time.
"In Europe, all Americans are supposed to possess a lot of money. One day in Brussels, Belgium, we went into a shop to make some purchases. I saw a beautiful lace collar and immediately wanted it for my mother. I offered to pay for it in French currency.
"We can't handle that kind of money.' Said the shopkeeper.
"I then handed him a check on an English bank, with this result:
" 'We cannot cash the check!'
"You can imagine how astounded I was after, some casual remark had revealed the fact that I was an American, to hear him say with a complete change of attitude:
"You can charge the collar and send me the money when you go back to America.'
"As the man had never laid eyes on me before you can bet
Page 4
that I was greatly pleased to find that my countrymen enjoyed such confidence among foreigners.
"Well, for a whole year my friend and I toured Europe on our bicycles. We came back to America feeling that we had experienced a very beneficial period abroad to say nothing of the pleasure it had given us.
"After another six months my father said he was ready for me to go to work. So I again started in with his firm and stayed there for the next several years.
"In 1912 I opened my own wholesale grocery business, operating under the firm name - W. M. Anderson Grocery Company. It was rather slow [sledding?] for the first two or three years and then sales began to increase gradually.
"In 1917, which was my very best year, my gross sales amounted to $860,000, with a net income of $30,000. Out of that I paid the government for income taxes, excess profit taxes, etc. My total taxes for that year including - State, Countyand City taxes - amounted to $10,000.
"The following year they were not so heavy, but four or five years later the government called on me again for additional taxes amounting to between $600 and $700. I had to borrow the money to pay this tax, because just as we had made quite a nice profit on the advancing market, we almost
Page 5
immediately lost it on stock depreciation and on bad accounts. We really lost more an bad accounts than on depreciation of stock.
"Another thing that made our losses heavy when the markets declined was that we catered to the canteen at Camp Hancock during the War. That left us with quite a bit of merchandise on hand that was not suitable for our regular trade. This was bulk goods such as pails of jams, and jellies, and cocoa.
"One who has never operated a business of his own can never have any idea of what shrinkage means when merchandise starts on the toboggan. Take sugar, for instance. My firm was very fortunate in having a very small stock of sugar on hand at the time of the decline and yet our loss an this commodity alone was over $3,000.
"When sugar was advancing we were only allowed to add 35 cents per hundred as profit. But when it started down nobody helped us out on the declining market.
"Of course, the retail merchants would not buy sugar or anything else until they were entirely out, anticipating cheaper prices. As I said before, my firm was fortunate in not having a large stock of sugar on hand. There was another jobber in Augusta who told me that he had lost more on sugar alone than
Page 6
his capital stock amounted to when he went into business in 1912.
"Conditions became so acute during that period that we would often have to contract for merchandise at the higher figures, and then, no sooner had we bought at the higher prices than the goods would begin to roll in with the market broken all to pieces.
"One time we contracted for 200 coils of rope. Just after placing that order I realized that I had probably made a big mistake. When I looked up the order I found that the salesman had failed to leave his address and I didn't know where to write to cancel the contract before the decline started.
"After the rope prices had struck bottom, in rolled the shipment. Instead of the average 35 pounds to the coil it averaged 85 pounds. I have never seen plow line rope put up in that size either before or since.
"I immediately sent one of my representatives to the mill, which proved to be not very far away, to try to make a settlement. We finally settled for $700.00 and didn't use the shipment.
"After that time we struggled along for three or four years, but realizing that our grocery business had become unprofitable, we decided to discontinue it and concentrate all of our efforts an something more remunerative.
Page 7
"For quite some time we had carried a separate line of wrapping paper, paper bags, notions, etc., in connection with our grocery business. A separate corps of clerks was employed for this particular line.
"After discontinuing the grocery business we organized a company which operated under the firm name of the W. M. Anderson Paper Company and carried the above mentioned commodities.
"In connection with our regular line, we also buy distress stocks of merchandise, which consists of restaurant equipment, store fixtures, and scales, etc., for resale.
"Naturally, all during the depression conditions were very trying and it was somewhat difficult to keep going. However, by patience and perseverance we have managed to hold on.
"Our come-back has been anything but spectacular, as a matter of fact it has been extremely gradual. But at least we are making a living out of it."
"Mr. Anderson, your wife sold real estate for some time, did she not?" I asked.
"Yes, she did." He replied. "And while the real estate business was good she was intensely interested in her work. However, after several years as a realtor she relinquished the business and again resumed her home and social duties.
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"As I told you in the beginning business is decidedly on the up-grade. Folks are beginning to enjoy many things that they had begun to think belonged to halcyon days long past.
"Well, I must say your last question changes the subject to a considerable degree. Yes, I have been a member of the Baptist Church for quite a number of years.
"My family is the only hobby I've ever had. I have concentrated my interest entirely on them.
"Surely, Mr. Anderson, a man who has taken such a prominent part in the business world must belong to several fraternal orders?" I questioned.
"No," he replied, "I guess it does seem somewhat strange to you, but I have never joined even one. I'll have to tell you about the only club I ever belonged to. It was just a social club and it was when I was a young fellow. The main motive was to get "our set" together and take a long walk in the country on Sunday afternoons. We enjoyed those little gatherings very much for awhile, until the boys and girls began to 'pair off' then they become engaged and finally several couples got married.
"In a short time interest in the club began to wane and later it was broken up.
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"My wife and I were married in 1906. We have four children - three girls and a boy. All of the girls are married and have families of their own. One of our daughters married a man from Buffalo, New York, and the other two are married and living here in Augusta. Our son has never married. After finishing his education at Buffalo, he decided to make his home there. So you see we have two children in New York.
"Our daughter who lives at Buffalo is married to a man whose business occasionally takes him to Europe. She always accompanies him on these trips.
"At one time when their baby was six months old, hereceived orders to go abroad. His mother was visiting in Chicago while enroute to California. His wife refused to go with him on account of leaving the baby, but finally they decided to ask his mother to defer her trip until a later date and return home to take care of the baby for them. The baby had a very competent white nurse but my daughter felt that he must be in his grandmother's charge as well.
"I remember on one occasion when this girl of ours brought her family South to visit us they brought the baby's nurse with them. We realized immediately that she was no ordinary nursemaid. Our daughter explained that she was a penniless Russian baroness,


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who had refugeed to America and that she was forced to use this means of earning a livelihood.
"Speaking of these European trips, I recall one instance when my daughter did quite some flying. She and her husband landed in Belgium. There was an invitation waiting for her to visit a friend who lived in Berlin. She flew over there and visited for a few days. Then she boarded a plane and flew to London where she joined her husband for the journey home.
"And now, I promised before we closed to give you my personal impressions as to the cause of the economic depression. It is my belief that inflated prices were at the bottom of the whole thing. The high prices had to come down and as soon as the demand lessened, prices came down in a hurry.
"As long as the United States was willing to extend credit to the European Nations they were anxious to buy. However, as soon as credit was no longer available they were forced to stop buying.
"Now as you know Finland is the only nation who has met her obligations to America, and that is one reason why I feel that the United States should show her confidence in that valiant little country and render her every assistance in this - her time of distress.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 43 of 73
[Mildred Lawson]
Contininty
February 1, 1939
Mrs. Sue S. White
Beauty School
10 1/2 E. Clayton St.
Athens, Georgia
Hornsby
Mildred Lawson
The last step had been reached of the long flight of steps. I paused in [?] the empty hall to get my breath before entering Mrs. Lawson's Beauty School. A plackard placard was tacked on the door advertising the price of her work.
I opened the door and entered the loungue longue. It is nicely furnished and pictures of different styles of hair dress lined the wall, which is common in these establishments. The loungue lounge is petitioned partitioned off with a screen, and is used as a class room. There is a long table filled with books, chairs around the table and a large blackboard on the wall. Mrs. Lawson is the instructor.
As I entered the loungue lounge, I saw Mrs. Lawson sitting before a large mirror in the practice room. "Hello!" she said, Come in and have a chair by the window." She was wearing a white skirt, pink sweater, tan oxfords and [?] hoes hose to match. She is of medium size and about five feet tall, she has [blueeyes[?]]., One of her students was buisy busy engaged in applying dye to her hair of some reddish. This is a very large room and all the apparatus ] that goes with a beauty parlor is conveniently placed in the room. ? ?
"So you want to know about the ways of a beauty parlor? Well I have been in the game fifteen years. The reason I went into the beauty parlor was because at that time I did it was a profitable business. I was just a stenographer in a small town, in a fertilizer and peanut shelling plant in [?] South Georgia [?] I had a son to put through school and I wanted him to have a good education, I
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selected Athens to live in so it would be cheaper to educate him and now he wants to be a doctor. I am looking toward my beauty school business to see him through.
"Don't let anybody fool you it is hard work, and we have lots of fun too. I want you head these paragraphs like this. "What I always wanted to say about my customers and never did." "WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY ABOUT MY CUSTOMERS AND NEVER DID."
"There was a woman who came to my place every day. She was a large and all out of shape. She gave me the impression that her husband stepped out on her for the more attractive people. She was about forty-five or fifty, everytime she came to me for a manicure, facial , and her hair fixed she would say: 'Please make me look pretty so my husband will think I look nice and won't run around. " I did my best, but there are some people you can't help no matter how much pains you take with them.
"People come to the beauty parlor to gossip about their neighbors, and sometimes they talk about us. We often go to them and say to 'em " we can hear waht what you say about us. " It is hard to please people in my line of work. There is a woman in town who is a business woman. She was the world's worse worst when I was at the Georgian Hotel at that time, we had an awful time with hot water. From three until five o'clock in the afternoon the water would get too cold for our use. One day she came in for a shampoo. I told her the water was too cold, she said; ' I want a shampoo ' and began to get ready for it. Again I told her the water was cold , anyway she sat down I told one of the operators to give her the shampoo, when the cold water was turned on her head she jumped
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up and blessed us all out. I told the girl to dry her hair, she said: 'I can't go out of here looking like this.' " I told her, ' You don't look any worse than you did when you came in. ' She had the worst looking mop of red hair you ever saw.
"One day last year a northern woman came to my shop for a permenant permanent wave. She was a norty? Laugity? type of person , . Her nose was turned up as if everything smelled bad. She was large, had on and was clad in a white dress that had large pink flowers on it. Her legs are twice the size of mine, her hose were and she wore gun metal hose to hide the size of them which made her look that much worse. I did her work myself, she began to ask personal questions. [?] 'do you have many customers!' she asked, I told her 'more than we can manage some days." Oh, she replied 'How can you do so much at your age ? ' "At my age I ask asked? Why , I am only forty-one." 'Forty-one! is that all.' That remark made me fighting mad, however she didn't know it. I meant to get even with her before she left my shop. I worked on, she never stopped talking. After she had talked about everything else, she asked me ; , ' How do you like the new materials this year?' "Oh, I think it is they are beautiful, but I simply can't stand large prints on large women, and I always did hate gun metal hose. I knew it was katty catty but I couldn't resist the temptation. I give her the wave but I must admit I would ? have given her a better job if she had been nicer.
"We had a woman to come in last week who is more or less a crank, she wanted her hair fixed a certain way. Well we did it. Then she wanted it changed and done another way. We changed it
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for her. After we did that she decided she would have a shampoo, and the operator in trying to please her accidently accidenally got some of the rinse water in her eye , . She jumped up, cursed the operator out, refused to pay for the work , and left. Her niece wanted an appointment and told one of the girls she was ashamed to come because her aunt had made it very embarrassing for her. We told the girl that didn't made any difference as we were use d to all kind of people. The girl came and we gave her the wave.
"Do you know the best way to lose a customer is to credit them . ? because After all beauty work [?] is a luxury. The only thing I ever lost on the university girls, was just before the Christmas holidays of this year when a soroity sorority girl came to my shop for a permenant permanent wave. After I had finished with her she told me to charge it and she would pay me when she came back after Christmas. She went home and I have never seen or heard of her since.
"I have a friend who is a widow, she is seperated separated from her husband , . She has a nice car and gets a nice sum from alimony. I can tell when she is ready to have work done, for a time before she springs it on me she can't be too nice. I know what she is up to as it has happened too often. Then she comes to have her work done. She thinks I do it for nothing, but I don't. ? I charge it each time she comes and some of these days I am going to present her with a bill. She tells her friends I do the work for her free. She is instrumental however, in sending lots of her friends to me. "I like men better than I do women, therefore when I started 'to work [?]' I justed hated to touch a [?]
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"I like men better than I do women, therefore when I started to work oh, I just hated to touch a woman's hair the odor of their oily hair made me sick often I have taken down a knot of hair, maybe hadn't been washed in three months, in those days they didn't have short hair, and when I smelled that ransid rancid odor of oil I have had to stop my [?]? work and run to the rest room to burp. If people knew what we saw when we start with their hair they would be more generous with soap and water. Not so long ago a mother brought her little girl to me for a permanent wave. I turned her over to one of the girls. After she had finished and they had gone the operator told me that child's neck, and back of her ears also the edge of her hair was so filthy she took a scrub brush to get the child clean. I mean a brush we have for scrubbing the scalp in a severe case of dandruff. That child was from a nice family.
"I had a shop like this in South Carolina, it was during probation. You notice I don't have booth's in my shop. The reason for that is, I was born in the country and; I like ' plenty of room and wide open [?] spaces.' To get back to my story , a college girl came in one day for a wave. She was talking down, to the operator, giving her the wave. I was doing a hair dying. The sheriff in that town was a handsome man and single, so Mrs. Brown and I were talking about him. The girl over heard us and said, ? oh, if you [?] think he is goodlooking you ought to see my bootlegger,' "I said,[?] ' Yes he is goodlooking isn't he , Mrs. Brown . [?] ' telling the girl Mrs Brown was his wife. I said this so the girl wouldn't would ?
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say nothing more about Mr. Brown. She was the smart type and thought it was cute to let us know she drank as girls had just started that and smoking. However, I must say Mr. Brown was a nice man and from a lovely family. After he came back from the war he couldn't find a job, and that was the only way he had of making a living.
"In my time at least since I have been running a beauty parlor of my own. I have bought about three bushels of end curlers and now I have about three dozen. One trait some of my customers have, is, they go to the dime store and buy a come comb which looks very much like the ones used in beauty parlors. They will come here to have work done. When our back is turned they swap combs with us. I pay $1.25 each for my combs there is no reduction on the quality bought and to find someone has swaped combs with me makes me down right mad. I reckon I had better not tell you any more dirt, but what I have said is all right, but there are things that happen here among the customers I had better not tell.
"Business men tell me since I have been in business that women are their best bet when it comes to paying their accounts. On the other had the National Cash Register men say a woman cashier knocks down more money than men. They find it out through checking the cash registers.
"I find that business women and girls also soroity >sorority girls are my best customers. They have to be , and want to look well groomed, and the sorority girls try to see which one can look the cutest. You take the women who stay at home they have more time to do these things for themselves.
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"Would you believe it if I tell you that married women with responsibilities make the beat operators . ? " The girls who were listening to Mrs. Lawson telling her story spoke up, ">>why, you know girls look fresher. Take our mothers , for instence instance, they have to work so hard at home I don't see why they would. " " Nevertheless it is true." their teacher told them," she continued: "Don't you think for a moment this kind of work isn't hard, it is much harder than office work, this is [?] physical labor. I know for I have done both and know. A woman who works in the courthouse told me one day she thought girls would make better beauty operators, because they had more patience. I told her she was mistaken because this type of work is harder. You only have one boss to please in a office and in this work you have to please everyone who comes to you. You not only have to sell them on your personality and work, but sell them on the idea of having things done they have never had done before to make them look better. You take a woman with a colorless face. If you can sell her on the idea of having her eyebrows and lashes dyed it makes the eyes look larger and the face will seem to have more color and expression.
"We are trying to make a real profession out of beauty operating. We are trying to introduce a bill into the legislature, so that each operator going out into the professional world after they have completed their [?] course will have to pay a license to the state of $100.00[,?] before they can begin work. This is to protect those who have made a study of beauty culture, and to keep those out who are not professionals. The operators use to learn the work or thought they know it and started to work. It is not that
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way now. They have to have a blood test made and have a physical examination before they can enter school and the health certificate has to be renewed each as long as they remain in the service. This is required by the State Board of Health.
"I have been doing this kind of work for fifteen years. I have ran run a beauty parlor exclusively until a short time ago. I decided to teach beauty culture and opened up a school in connection with my parlor. The State Board of Barbers and Hair Dressers went won't allow both going on the same building so I gave up the parlor. However they do allow us to have customers and we charge a nominal sum, not the regular price as my students are not considered experts until they have completed their course which takes six months or one thousand hours. Those are the requirements of the State Board before they care take an examination.
"I never select my [?] girls because they have nice hair or nails , . However, a pretty face and figure goes a long ? ways in a beauty parlor , . say See here an operator who is ? popular in her work don't always have time to keep her hair nails and face jam up. And you can't judge a good operator by her personal appearance you have to try them first. It is in this work like everything else every sometimes the ones I consider best gets the least to do.
"When I started to work, I worked in my sisters sister's beauty parlor in a small Georgia town. She learned the work in New York and Chicago. The only beauty clinic in Atlanta at that time was Hern's,* I believe that was the only one. It doesn't take talent to be an operator. *(Probably Herndon's - or possibly Hearn's)
"I have girls in training from all over Georgia. They board
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out in town, when my lease expires I am going to get a large house and have a dormitory on the top floor and a training school on the training school on the first floor. Then I am going to open up another beauty parlor in some convenient location of the city. When I started to work, I was paid a commission, I have made as low as $5.00 a week and as high as $65.00 lots of weeks. Most of the beauty parlors pay their operators on a commission [?] only. I pay my girls salaries, because it [?] keeps down confusion. If I had a popular operator and everyone who came in wanted that particular person, than I would let the ones not quite so popular help that one. I worked along with my girls and drew my salary the same as they did this kept down jealousy and confusion. Salaries and commissions have their advantage and dis-advantages. A girl on a commission makes a better operator than those on a salary. An operator on a commission works harder, she finishes her work quicker and does a better job, she will also call her friends and ask them to come to her, and tell her to ask others. Where chose The operators on a salary takes her work as a matter of fact, knowing she will get her money as long as she pleases the customers and manager of the establishment.
"There is a greater profit made in shampoos and manicures, than in any other type of work, such as permaments and>finger waves, facials ,>and massges massages. The reason there is less expense attached to the material used.
"The youngest customer I ever had was fourteen months old, a doctors doctor's child. Her mother brought her up here, and held the child in her arms while I gave her the permenant permanent wave. I have old women come to my shop to have work done so old they use a cane for support to walk. Women that age are harder to please than younger people.
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"When I started to work in a beauty parlor gun gum -chewing was not allowed, you were fired as quick for that as for any [?] other offence. Now since girls smoke I think they are breath-conscious, and chew gun gum to kill bad breath. Most all of our customers chew gum and smoke from nervousness while under the dryer. And most all of them read during the entire time. Those who don't read like to gossip with the who attend to the machine does her work. However, I have always discouraged this sort of thing, for this reason. There are always things said that shouldn't be passed on and should that operator repeat the conversation there would be trouble, because if a customer comes in and like her work she will tell her friends, you know how women like to talk so this , indulgenne indulgence isn't allowed between customer and operator.
"I remember one incident incident the my shop in South Carolina. A very prominent woman and her husband seperated separated. It was really a very tragic seperation separation. Every woman who came in had a different story to tell. One of my operators repeated what she had heard and it caused an awful fuss. Of course I had to fire the girl. I had another girl who was bubbling over with mischief. She would come in and [?] no matter how many was in my shop . , she'd exclaim 'Oh, did you know there is to be a grand parade, with floats and people all dressed up . ! ' After a while when everyone was busy, several horns would sound from cars on the street she would stop what she was doing and run to the window; saying 'Oh, here that , the parade is coming.' Every one would run to the window. One day she had a water pistol, filling it with water , she went to the window and shot the water on a policeman. Was he mad ? He came up here and blessed
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her out. It frightened her to death. I had to let her go, because that sort of thing won't go when you work with the public.
"I give all type of waves manicures, facials, dying dyeing the hair, eyebrows, lashes, hotoil hot/oil treatments and shampoos. I have never had any trouble in baking the hair too much. I have automatic out-off's on all my machines. There is no guess work about permenant permanent waving.
"I went into business for myself in 1929. I have been in business in Athens six 6 years. I came here to go in business because I am a Georgia , woman and I wanted my son to go to a Georgia College and it cost me less to send him to send [?] him here. The town I left in South Carolina was a mill town and there wasn't much business at that place. Now [?] I have given up my shop for the present, and I'm teaching girls to become beauty operators.
"My girls pay me $60 .00 for six the 6 months course, or one thousand hours. When I get your more students my price will be $90 .00, the average price for a complete course is $135 .00. Each beauty parlor school fixes their own price. The girls work from nine 9 o'clock in the morning until six 6 o'clock in the afternoon, they have an hour for lunch, and an hour of each day is devoted to study. I have five 5 electric heaters, four 4 gas heaters one 1 and electric blower for drying hair after a permenant permanent wave. The money taken in by the students from customers goes to me. I require my girls to wear white uniforms, I think the operators appear much nicer. Now that I have the training school I don't do any of the work. When I open my shop again I will work like the other operators.
"My students pay for their tutition tuition in various ways. One girl
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bathing he burned all the clothes he was wearing even to his uniform, he said his clothes were ragged and not worth saving. He was shot in his hip and all the fingers on one hand were shot completely off. He reared two sets of children, my mother was one of the younger set. He had several children when he went to war, and when he came back several more were born to them. General Clement A. Evans was my grandmother's brother on my mother's side.
"I believe in religion and am a member of the Baptist church, but am ashame ashamed to say I don't go like I should. I had religion cram[?]ed crammed down my throat until I married. My mother and father were very strict and I was reared on the front seat in church so to speak. I do want my boy to ba a good christian man, and I feel its my duty to talk to him and tell him the right from wrong, by pointing out my mistakes to him. I have denied myself every pleasure and the better things in life that he might have a good education and make a man of himself. After all it is a pleasure for me to help him I am getting old now and his future is ahead of him.
"My husband and I are not living together. I met him in the room I was born and reared in. My father owned a large farm, they say people in South Georgia are land poor , that [?] was us. Anyway father decided to sell [?] that part of the land and built another house. A friend of the family bought [?] the land our first house was on. One night one of the girls gave an old fashioned square dance and invited me. I went, she had the dance in the room that was our bed room and there is where I met my husband. I never worked a day before I married I never had to. After I married I had to go to work to help out.
"When I was in South Carolina, I had my shop done in green and tan, I had bought a very expensive line of cosmetics [???]
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in blue bottles. The cabinet I had built for my goods the [?] color didn't make those blue bottles stand out so I had the back of the cabinet painted black. One day an art teacher came in, while I was doing her work she began to critize the color scheme of my shop and the black background of my cabinet. I told her I liked it, she said: 'that is because you don't have any taste.' When she called for an appointment I wasn't busy that day, but I told her I had all I could possibly do for that day. I have those things said to me that hurt than , I have things to balance them up.
"Once I made a long distance call to Gainesville, Georgia, a few days later that long -distance operator came in for a shampoo and finger wave. She told me the reason she came to me was, when she was putting that call through to Gainesville for me, she liked my voice and decided to come to my place for her work. That reminds me of the time when I worked in a telephone office. Fertilizer and the peanut shelling season didn't last but a few months, when I weren't working at the plant I was a 'hello girl.' In that town they had a radio station in a drug store. I doubt whether it was ever heard out side of the town or not. Anyway, one day a girl called the drug store , for asked them to play Gene Austin's St. Infirmary Blues. The orperator operator connected her with the laundry The girls at the laundry said 'we don't have any blues for Mr. Austin.' 'What do you mean ? ' asked the girls' girl 'We don't have Mr. Austin's laundry listed.' Than the girl discovered she had the wrong number and did we get blessed out.
"When I moved my shop to this end of town everything was on the decline, there were several vacant store buildings, soon after
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that business [?] began to pick up. Now there isn't a vacant building, in this block. A business man told me [?] in this block [?] to get together and pay [?] rent [??]
"My one ambition in life is to be a writer if I had gone through school as I should I would have taken journalism in college and had I accomplished my aim I would like to pay Erskin Caldwell back for the mud he has slung on the South. I have written several stories and some day I am going to get someone to edit them for me and have them printed.
"Well I believe I have told you about all that would do to put into print, and too I have been so busy since you came, I am wondering if you will ever get it straight," One of the operators students had just finished combing a customers hair , [?] had given a finger wave. When she came to the shop, she fussed because one side of her head had more curl than the other, her hair was cut shorter in some places than in others.["?] Mrs. Lawson, said: "But Miss Black we fixed fixed it exactly as you told us to." This made the customer ferious furious "Well", she said, "I don't like it and I want it done over." The work was completed, Mrs. Lawson asked her: "How do you like it now?" "[?] it is much better now. How much is it?" Mrs. Lawson told her; "35cent;"; Miss Black turned red in the face: "But surely you don't charge a customer when they are not pleased with your work, do you?" "No, when it is our fault, but we fixed your hair just as you directed it, and we charge 35cent; for a finger wave and drying it." "Well," said Miss Black, "here is the money, and I don't intend to come back I was sure you wanted your customers to be pleased." "I am awfully sorry Miss Black, but it isn't
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our fault." At this she snatched on her coat took her hat in hand went out of the school, slaming the door after her. Mrs. Lawaion Lawson [????] turned to me and said: "I have been in business fifteen years and when those things come up, they still hurt." I told her I must be going. "Do come back," she [?] invited me; "and I hope you don't find my story too un-interesting." She followed me to the door leading down the long flight of steps. "When I told her good bye the tears were still in her eyes, she was putting up a hard flight to keep them back.
[?Paragraph ?]
[?Paragraph ?]
[?Paragraph ?]
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I think it is permissible to chew a fresh piece of gum for a moment or two to kill bad breath. Most of our customers chew gum or smoke to relieve the tedium while under the dryer; The majority of them read as they smoke and chew. I prefer the readers for the others are apt to gossip with the operators. I've always discouraged that sort of thing, for no matter how innocent the intention the conversation always progresses until things are said that should not be passed on, and should an operator repeat some of these personal conversations there is apt to be serious trouble. The only kind of talk I encourage about my shop is for the customers to tell her friends how she likes our work and send them to us to prove it. But gossip! No.
"Illustrative of the danger of common gossip, just let me tell you of an occurrence that tool place when I was operating a shop in another state. A very prominent woman and her husband had separated. It was really a tragic separation, and every woman who entered my shop had a different tale to tell about it. One of my operators repeated something that had been told her by a customer about this case, and it caused an awful fuss. Of course, I had to fire the girl.
"Deliver me from these mischievous girls. I mean the ones that are proud of their ability along that line. It was in that same shop that I had the misfortune to engage a girl that proved to be just bubbling over with so-called innocent mischief. No matter how many customers were in my shop she would exclaim, 'Oh, did you know it's nearly time for the grand parade? There'll be people all dressed up marching, riding horseback and on floats,' and any other excit-
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"I give all types of waves, manicures, facials, hot oil treatments, and shampoos, and I also dye hair, eyebrows, and lashes. No I have never had any trouble about baking the hair too much, for all my machines are equipped with automatic shut-offs. There's no guess work about permanent waving in my shop.
"I went in business for myself in 1923, and 6 years ago I opened my own shop in Athens. I came here because as a Georgia woman I wanted my son to complete his education at the University of Georgia. To come here, I left a mill town in another state. There wasn't sufficient business there for me to clear enough money to sent my boy to college. Now, I've given up my shop for the present, to teach girls to become beauticians.
"My students pay me $60 for a 6 months course, or a thousand hours. When I have enrolled four more students I intend to raise my price to $90 for the 6 months course. My price for 6 months, or a thousand hour course includes only the subjects essential for eligibility to stand the State examination, but I also teach other and more advanced subjects in beauty culture, and my price for the complete course is $135. A graduate who has mastered the complete course has prospects of better earnings than the one who studied only the primary essentials. My students are in training from 9 o'clock in the morning until 6 in the afternoon, and they have an hour off at noon. One hour of the school day is devoted to study. Each student is given regular practical experience in all the subjects in her course. To give you an idea of the amount of equipment I provide for their use, just to mention heaters alone,
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I have 5 electric heaters, 4 gas heaters and 1 electric blower for drying the hair. I require all my students to wear white uniforms. I think the uniforms give the girls a much nicer appearance. Now that I operate a training school I no longer do any of the actual work myself.
"My students pay for their tuition in various ways. One girl from the country wanted to take the course but told me she didn't have the money, so I agreed to accept chickens, hams, potatoes, and fresh vegetables. That helped her and me too. One man paid his daughters tuition with lumber, which was used to remodel my apartment.
"I was born on a farm in the southern part of the State, and when I was about our years old my parents moved to town. Four years later father's health failed and the doctors advised him to move back to the country. Father was a teacher and be built the first schoolhouse in that community and taught in it. He and several other men organized the Baptist church and built its house of worship. He was a deacon in that church as long as he lived. One thing sure, just as soon as I am able I'm going back and buy that little old pedal organ that I used to play Sundayschool songs on in that old church when I was a girl. Although I quit school when I was only 13 years old, I've always liked to read and study, and my people were by no means illiterate.
"Both of my grandparents fought in the War Between the States. Mother's father was badly wounded. When he came home from the war one of his slaves saw him coming and ran to meet him. Grandfather told the Negro not to let grandmother know he had arrived until he
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 44 of 73
[The More Modest Among Us]
Alex Samuels,
908 Edgewood Ave., N. E.
Atlanta, Georgia.
By - William Jenkins
December 15, 1939.
The More Modest Among Us.
"My grandfather came from England about a hundred and twenty-five years ago. He stopped in Jamaica for some time on his way to the United States, and there he met my grandmother. She was of Spanish and French descent. They made their home in New Orleans, where my grandfather bought and sold cotton.
"My father was born and educated in New Orleans. I have a baptismal certificate showing that he was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, so I guess my grandmother must have been a member, as my grandfather was a Free Mason and could have scarcely belonged to that denomination. My father received degrees as an M. D. and also a D. D. He was ordained as an Episcopal minister and served as rector of various Episcopal churches for about fifteen years. He finally gave up the ministry and gave his entire attention to practicing medicine in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He also did a good deal of surgical work. He had a lot of surgical experience in Jackson's army.
"My mother was born in Michigan and was of German and English descent. She came to Prairie du Chien when she was a small girl and married there in 1880.
"I was born at Prairie du Chien or, in English, Dog Prarie, in 1884. It is one of the oldest towns in Wisconsin and the site of a fort which was built during the Indian wars.
"I had one sister, no brothers. My sister and my father died with diphtheria
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when I was about a year and a half old. Diphtheria killed them quickly in those days. The first thing I can remember was having my throat swabbed with a carbolic solution. The memory was clear enough to cause me to recognize the smell and taste years afterwards. Diphtheria, when it took a virulent form, was a such more dangerous disease then than it is now. It was not uncommon for the mortality to go as high an fifty percent or more. During such epidemics no public funerals were held for those who died of the disease. People were afraid of contracting the disease themselves.
"My father left my mother and me a home and about five thousand dollars in cash, also a library of over two thousand volumes.
"I was almost eight years old when I started to school. The diphtheria had injured me somewhat, and a case of measles when I was seven kept me from starting earlier. My mother married again soon after I began school and we moved to the country. We had a two-room school and two overworked teachers where I went in the country, but I doubt that the opportunity to learn was much poorer than it is in an up-to-date school. The discipline was, of course, terrible but, aside from that, I have yet to see any educational system in which the student does not have to learn for himself anything that will prove of value to him. I was fond of reading and probably spent as such time reading in my library at home as I did on my school work. At any rate, I found that I had already read most of the books which were used in the high school English courses, as well as a great number that are never heard of in the high schools.
"My stepfather and I got along very well, though he thought I was too much of a runt to ever make a farmer. However, he used to allow me about half an acre of very fertile ground on which I was supposed to make my spending money. Once I raised about four hundred bushels of onions on the ground. I shipped my crop to Chicago and they netted a little over ten cents a bushel,
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though they were quoted as selling at a dollar a bushel. After that I did my selling around home. The commission man probably made fifty cents a bushel for himself on that little onion deal, and I have never felt that it was a fair division.
"My step-father sold his farm and retired about 1900. We moved to West Salem, a small town near La Crosse. I went to the high school at West Salem and, as usual, I spent more time on my own out-of-school reading than I did on my school work. During these years I read practically all the standard English literature from Spencer's 'Faerie Queen' to Mark Twain and Kipling, as well as most of the European philosophers. I was thoroughly stopped by [Regel?]. It was many years later that I discovered that [Regel?] probably did not understand himself any too well, as the remark he is said to have made might lead one to think, 'I never found but one man who understood all I have written and I am not altogether sure that he understands it.'
"Probably of more value than the library was Bernarr MacFadden's magazine Physical Culture. I bought the second issue at a newsstand and for many years did not miss a copy. MacFadden never received the credit he deserved for his work. A good many cranks used to contribute, but there was much sound information in his magazine. He began the fight on patent medicine frauds years before Collier's, which is usually given the credit. He also wrote a good deal on the value of sunshine and certain vitamin-containing foods. Of course, neither he nor any one else knew at that time why such things was of special value, but he seemed to have an instinct which led him to correct conclusions.
"In 1905 I went to the University of Wisconsin. I majored in mathematics for my first degree, but the truth of the matter is that I was not very much of a mathematician, though I did later teach a few courses in elementary college
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mathematics. I later received a degree in physics which suited me better.
"My first paying job after getting my bachelor's degree was that of assistant instructor in the physics department of the Louisiana State University, at Baton Rouge. My salary was eight hundred per year. Ordinarily an assistant is supposed to have from twelve to sixteen teaching hours per week. However, there were only two of us in the department and the head was more interested in growing sugar cane on a large plantation he owned than he was in teaching. As a result, I found that I was getting about thirty hours of teaching and part of it in classes which my chief took credit for conducting. Teaching was not at all pleasant that year for, in addition to the rather heavy schedule, I gave failing grades to quite a number of men on the athletic teams. They believed they should pass because of athletics and I was innocent enough to think that grades were given to every one for their knowledge of physics. A great relief was felt by all when I left at the end of the year to take a research assistantship at the University of Illinois. My old chief in Louisiana became president of the university a few years later and served in that position until his death not long ago. He used to be rather fond of the quotation from Tennyson: 'Knowledge comes but Wisdom lingers.' Even though he was not very fond of work. I believe he made an excellent president and justified his favorite quotation. He knew how to direct the work of others.
"My work in Illinois was called research in astronomy, but it consisted principally in making photo-electric cells and in trying to improve the sensitiveness of such cells so that they would be were useful in measuring the light from variable stars. Some of the first cells that were made in the United States were made in Illinois just before I came. The astronomer used them in estimating the masses of some double stars as well as other measurements of interest in astronomy.
"While I was there, I took two civil service examinations, one for the
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Coast and [Geodetic?] Survey and one for the Philippine service. In the first I mad the second highest mark and in the second I was pretty well down the list. I received an offer of $1,200 a year from the Philippine Service, and in 1914 I left for the islands with forty-eight other men who were newly appointed. Some of the men said there were more than a thousand on the eligible list, so the more modest among us wondered who was nodding when the list was made for appointments. It took twenty-eight days to reach the islands and most of us probably gained a better appreciation of the size of the Pacific Ocean.
"My appointment called for high school teaching, and I was sent to the norther part of Luzon and made my first acquaintance with the Filipino. Some of the teachers had trouble and seemed to think them hard to discipline, but I am sure it must have been their own fault. Although I never considered myself a very skilled hand at managing people, I had only three cases that called for my action during the entire six years I served on the islands. The teaching was, of course, in English and the native will compare well in school ability with American high school and college students. The Filipinos are generally a very considerate and good mannered people and sensitive to discourteous treatment. One of the most indignant boys that I remember to have dealt with had been sworn at by an American teacher. It took a great deal of explanation to make him understand that the teacher had been saying, 'Please do your garden work a little faster', in customary American slang.
"My contract called for two years of high school teaching. At the end of the first year I was made principal and given a two-hundred-dollar raise. At the conclusion of my two-year contract I decided that I had better return to the states, so I resigned and went to Manila to make the trip home. It is not good to 'miss too many boats', as they say of Americans who have gone seedy from staying too long.
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"However, I was offered an appointment as assistant professor in physics at the university at Manila, and stayed four years longer at a salary of $2,200 a year.
"During my six years I made trips to Japan and China as well as a trip of a couple of hundred miles on foot through the mountains in central Luson. It is generally called the wild people's country. The wild people are believed to have inhabited the islands before the coming of the Filipinos and to have been driven into the mountains by them. Very few of the speak either English or Spanish, so I was unable to talk to those I saw.
"Their villages are always built away from the narrow trails which lead through the mountains so that one could easily pass by without seeing any sign of them except for the cultivated terraces. These terraces are the most extensive mountain terraces in the world. Sometimes the entire side of a mountain is built up into rice patches if there is a supply of water which can be led from one patch to another. The terracing is done with wooden tools, as the people do not work iron, though they sometimes [beat?] gold nuggets into rings and other ornaments.
"Their fondness for dog feast seems to be the best known of their habits. They have the regular dog markets where the dogs are brought for sale, and one will frequently meet a party with a dozen or more dogs. The dogs seem to know that there is trouble ahead and are tied with short thongs to wooden lead sticks to prevent them from gnawing the leashes and escaping. They starve the dogs for a few days, then they give them their fill of rice and sweet potatoes. They are then killed and roasted whole, barbecue style. The sausage is already stuffed.
"These [Iggorotes?] are a small race, probably averaging about five feet in height, but they are nevertheless sturdy. One of them carried a trunk for me on a thirty-five mile mountain trip. I made the trip in a day and was very
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glad indeed to have two days' rest at a constabulary station. The little [man?] came in the next morning with the trunk which weighed about fifty pounds he was not nearly as tired as I was, though I had carried only a few pounds in a blanket roll.
"While going through the mountains I met a couple of missionaries who were also seeing the sights but I suspect, from the way I have heard others of their kind talk, that they later told the home missionary societies about the terrible hardships they endured. As a matter of fact, the average missionary fares better than the civil service employe, but the latter do not feel that they are martyrs and are in fact glad to get the jobs and a chance to travel a little. I know quite a number of mission people who served in the Philippines, China, and Korea. They are likeable people, but I doubt that many of them could have fared as well in any other line. Those in China seemed to have the softest snaps. Nearly all of them are engaged in school work. One fellow used to say he wanted two more babies because of the extra allowance which was made for those having larger families. I don't think he has ever quite forgiven me for asking him if he didn't think there might be more profit in raising pedigreed puppies.
"I did not get to se much of the [?], the [Mohammedans?] who [occupy some?] of the southern islands. Like Kipling's 'Fuzzy Wuzzy', the Moro is 'A first class fighting man.' They gave the American soldiers a very respectable fight before they were subdued, even though they were poorly equipped. The Spaniards and the Filipinos have never been able to meet them on equal terms. Possibly, the quality of the Moro soldiers was due to their belief that the surest road to a ringside seat in heaven was to die while killing unbelievers. I saw half dozen Moros walking down a Manila business street, and it was very evident that some of the Filipinos they passed were badly frightened. They probably thought that the Moros might suddenly decide to run [amuck?].
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"The Filipinos apparently do not take their religion as seriously as do the Mohammedans. The Roman Church was a great political power before the coming of the Americans, but did not prevent the natives from telling numberless tales in which the priests were the heroes. It is impossible, that the 'Good Fathers' should have been in as many ribald adventures or should have been responsible for the number of children assigned to them by their amused parishioners. One tale which produced great amusement was of a Spanish employee of a large tobacco company, who wrapped a monkey carefully and carried it to the priest for baptism. The 'infant' was supposed to be in a dying condition so the rites were quickly performed on the veiled monkey. At the close of the ceremony the girl who was carrying the 'baby' tossed it to the chandelier and it quickly climbed to the ceiling to the amazement of the priest. As it happened, the priest made a trip to Manila a few weeks later and secured some stationary from the offices of the tobacco company. The gentleman who was responsible for the monkey's baptism received a letter on the company's paper soon afterwards. In the letter was an account of some of his financial irregularities and the information that he was without a job and a long way from home. The gentleman immediately went to Manila, thinking he was fired, and tried to [beg?] off. Such a tale would not be relished in Moro Land and it would probably be a very brave or very forgetful man who would tell it a second time. The Filipino has a well developed sense of humor and is greatly amused by the peculiarities of others. However, it is unusual to find a Filipino boy who is self conscious or who appears to have any idea that he could ever do anything ridiculous himself.
"One amusing custom of the church consisted of throwing the bones of those whose relatives failed to pay cemetery rent over the walls. There were large mounds of them for a long time after the coming of the Americans.
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"Most of the poorer natives had common law marriages, as the church fees were more than they could afford to pay and civil weddings were not recognized.
"The church had attempted to suppress Free Masonry on the grounds that its members were attempting to liberalize the government. A number of native patriots were executed. Amongst them was Jose Rizal. Rizal was a graduate of several European Universities and an able author. One of his novels, "Nola No [Tangere?]', was offensive to the government and be was obliged to leave the islands. He had the misfortune to be in the islands at the outbreak of the insurrection against Spain and was executed on charges of having encouraged the insurrection and being a Mason.
"I made several trips to Japan, and I saw a little of India and China. I had read Arnold's 'Light of Asia' and some of Muller's translations many years before and had always felt that there was something which Arnold had failed to bring out in his presentation of Buddhism. I was fortunate in making the acquaintance of a few Japanese who were well informed not only in oriental philosophy but also better informed on western thought than I was.
"I do not believe that Christianity has any chance of making much headway amongst the educated classes in Buddhist countries. All the moral teachings of Christianity, in some cases almost did same words as the sayings of Jesus, are found in the sayings of Gautama. Even some of the parables were told by him five hundred years before the founding of Christianity. However, the most serious hindrance to the spread of Christianity in such countries is probably the record of the Christian Church as compared to the Buddhist. The Christian Church has pretty consistently opposed new knowledge, whereas the Buddhist teachings make ignorance the original sin. It could under no condition have opposed the development of astronomy or the theory of evolution. In a history of two thousand and five hundred years it has no record of religious persecutions, a thing which even modern Christianity cannot claim and
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Christendom has no parallel to the history of Asoka's reign. Amongst the more degenerated sects of the buddhist belief in miracles is not uncommon. Apparently such belief was discouraged by the founder, who dismissed one of his monks for claiming to have performed a miracle and made a law for his priesthood that none should ever claim any supernatural powers or inspirations not open to others. The first Catholic missionaries to Asia were astonished to find many of the forms of their own church practiced in Buddhist temples but, instead of taking the rational view that the early Christians had probably borrowed those forms from the earlier organization, they concluded that Satan was imitating the church. I could tell you not a few but scores of striking similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. In some cases the early Buddhist viewpoint and the sayings attributed to Jesus are so entirely the same that it seems very possible that His inspiration may have come from the older teachings. A large part of the European philosophy was foreshadowed in the teachings of Gautama. The indebtedness of such men as Schopenhauer, Spinoza, and Emerson is generally recognized. How much more of western thought was implied in Asiatic philosophy to not recognized by most of us because of the nonsense which is mixed with it and also because of the different method of expression.
"The greater tolerance of the Buddhist to shown in his attitude towards other religions, especially Christianity. Instead of consigning them to various degrees of high temperature in the hereafter he regards Christianity as having 'great merit' and teaches that the Christians are following a good path which will eventually lead to enlightenment. Considering these things, I do not see how Christianity can hope to make any striking progress amongst the intelligent classes who are born in Buddhist countries.
"It cost very little to make A trip to Japan, as I couldn't see the need of taking first-class passage; and, since I lived with an English-speaking
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Japanese student, the living expenses were no more those in Manila for the two of us. He was an active boy and we must have covered fifteen miles of walking on a good many days. I still think I would like to spend several years living in various parts of Asia.
"I met my first wife In the Philippines. She was employed as a supervisor of the Manila high schools. Very few men were available for the Philippine service after the United States entered the war, and the women who were brought over developed a bad habit of marrying before their contracts expired. We were married after returning to the states, however. The better class of native girls consider it rather improper to be seen with an American.
"I tried to get in the army shortly after we entered the war, but the army decided there was no need for my services. 'Underweight', they said. There was no draft In the Islands, but most of the young men applied and quite a few received commissions. The standard explanation of those who did not enlist was, 'What good would one private be amongst all those second lieutenants.'
"In 1920 I returned to the United States and got a position at Georgia Tech at a salary of $2,750 a year. I taught eight years there. At the end of the first year I bought a home in Decatur. That was in 1920 and houses were at their highest price then. The place cost about $8,500 counting the improvements I put in. My wife was rather anxious to own a place. Personally, I never could see that it was cheeper to buy than to rent. When I finally wound up the thing, it was very evident that I could have paid double rent and still have been much better off. I also bought a five-acre lot, a little on the edge of town, expecting to sell the house as soon as possible and build there. I have always enjoyed having animals around and my wife was very fond of gardening, especially of flowers. I rather think she must
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have studied the habits and cultivation of about every flowering plant that was grown around Atlanta.
"The teaching at Georgia Tech was of a very routine character without much chance of more advanced work. It is an engineering school and does remarkably good work in training engineers, but did not pretend to be much in the line of research or graduate specialties.
"My wife died In December 1925, and two years later in 1928 I left Tech to go to Cornell for graduate work in physics. Toward the close of the first semester they offered me part-time work in teaching. The teaching work was light, calling for three classes a week and so left an abundance of time for study. Cornell probably allows its students more freedom of choice than any other of the great universities, though they have to hold their undergraduates to a more systematic course than their graduate students. I believe it is an excellent system, as every one is working at something in which he has a real interest instead of grinding out credits.
"I returned to Atlanta in 1931 to try to sell my house. I had already sold the lot, though I was obliged to sell what cost $2,500 for $500. No one was greatly interested in building even in 1928. In 1931 it was practically impossible to sell houses for money, or it least that was my experience. I finally traded it for an abandoned farm. I had a $6,000 equity in the place but should have been glad to have sold it for $1,000.
"I moved to the farm with my collie dog in the fall of 1931. There are few better companions than a wise collie. We disagreed about only one thing. I was in the habit of killing any rat I could manage to catch. This dog held the belief that nothing should ever be killed and would plainly give me to understand that it wasn't fair, in his opinion, to hurt those poor rats.
"In 1932 I re-married and started raising a few beans and farming some of the fertile patches that had withstood a generation of cotton cropping.
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I had over four hundred hens part of the time but that many hens can easily eat fifty or sixty dollars' worth of feed in a mouth, and frequently make a return of fifteen or twenty dollars worth of eggs. At any rate I found there was no money to be made on worn-out farm, but kept on always in hopes of finding a buyer at some price in the next few months. The farm was profitable only in one respect - it was a pleasant place to live. I sold it in 1937 and netted $500 on it. I may say that I received $500 on my house which had cost at least $6,000 above rent. I believe it is generally cheaper to rent than to buy.
"I built a trailer to live in and came back to Atlanta to try for a job, but didn't have the luck of finding one. In fact, if it had not been for a little trading which I did in stocks I would have been out of cash long before I sold the farm. Stocks have a great advantage over most other forms of property in that they can be sold at some price. Trading stocks is not a job that is suitable to many. It requires very careful study. A person attempting to trade on a little newspaper opinion and so-called expert advice is almost certain to have serious losses. The reason is not hard to see. When prices are at the bottom they are there because it is almost the unanimous opinion that things are bad and getting worse, and when they are at the top it is because every one expects even better things. The only people I have ever known who made money consistently were those who formed their own opinions and made a business of their trading. A great many people who would not think of playing against professionals for money in a card game will attempt to speculate. They are playing a far more complicated game in competition with very shrewd opponents. No, I do not regard speculation as gambling unless you are willing to define all buying and selling in hopes of a profit as gambling, and I think any one would be justified in buying and equity if he had good reason to think
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it would soon be worth more in selling if he thought it likely to decline. However, I am sure that if any one thinks it a way to make easy money he has not realized the requirements of successful trading. I never had so much as a thousand dollars in the market and of course frequently found I was mistaken, or right too soon, but during the seven years I made something every year but one. That year I lost about $200. During my best year I made about [$800?].
"The recent reforms in the market were badly needed but scarcely go far enough to be called a thorough job. I think the only serious mistake was made in making the margin requirements too high. That probably caused the 1937 panic to be more severe than it would have been otherwise. This requirement has reduced later.
"Living in a trailer is very much like living in an efficiency apartment. Trailers are very comfortable both in warm and cold weather and, after one has learned to have 'a place for everything and everything in its place', the trailer is more convenient than most houses. However, I am working on some plans for a small portable house which can be carried on a trailer frame and can be erected or reloaded on its carrier in a few hours. I want to have the plans ready to use in case I get a sale for the trailer which I am now using. Such a house can be made at a cost of from $200 to $400 for materials and is far more convenient than the average house.
"The average American of low income certainly does not select his food so has to get the maximum value for the amount he spends. It seems to me that it would be well worth while if more instruction were given to such matters. Of course, any one can find all kinds of articles telling about calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and so on, but the trouble with that is that even the few who read and understand such articles do not apply them. What we need is some very low-priced diets which are sufficient to maintain
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good health and as persistent a hammering on the subject as there is, for instance, on the merits of advertised foods or the great curative powers of patent medicines. Some of my neighbors in the country were evidently suffering from malnutrition though they spent more for groceries than I did. Their houses and surroundings were very unsanitary. It costs no more to have clean surroundings and a well-balanced diet than to live on hog and hominy in a house which any up-to-date farmer would consider unfit for cattle.
"I don't believe that any one thoroughly understands all of the causes of depressions; at least it is a subject on which the 'doctors' are about unanimous in their disagreement. Certainly Presidents Coolidge and Hoover did not understand the subject, or they would scarcely allowed our present situation to develop while they smilingly assured the American people that all was well with the world and the best of our coming prosperity was just around the corner. I do believe I can claim to have been more foresighted than that, for I sold the small amount of stock which I owned jointly with my mother before the 1929 break and, as before stated, would have been very glad to sell all the other property I owned.
"The depression was very possibly made during the years [1913?] to 1927 when most of us were spending more than we had really made. The sum of debts, if the estimates are at all correct, represented much too large a proportion of our total wealth, and they could only be carried by a continual advance in values. The world depression stopped that. Then the forced economy and the shrinking of values began and the depression fed on its own growth. Hoover, due to the political situation, was practically powerless. I doubt that, with the emergency powers later given to Roosevelt, he would have taken sufficiently drastic action, as he took too much of a banker's view of the situation. The United States were simply due to follow the rest of the world in revaluing money and reorganizing industry.
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"Any inspection of employment and production figures plainly shows that there was a considerable increase in the hourly production, especially during the last fifteen years. Our distribution of income must be adjusted to the increase in labor efficiency if that increased production is to be used. A concentration of wealth in the hands of a small proportion of our citizens cannot possibly be made consistent with general prosperity. Regardless of whether one believes that enormous fortunes are acquired by moral individuals or not, the general good requires that they should not exist and certainly that these should not endure in the hands of a hereditary class. We have and excellent illustration of the effect of concentration of power and wealth in the thousand year's depression which Asia has suffered. The poverty of Asia is not produced by the inferiority of its people but by the lack of good governments and political freedom. In the United States I believe that our past prosperity has been due to our more fair distribution of wealth among those who produced it rather than to the efforts of a few who have managed to control large enterprises.
"The New Deal policies seem to me to be generally correct, and the American people appear to have some understanding of what is happening. They are not likely to hand the full control back to our former masters. However, I do not think we are going to see the 1929 levels reached rapidly. Too many people are now accustomed to live on a lower consuming level than they did in the 1920's. Very few of these I know who ere earning well during that period are now spending as freely as they did then. To reach that glorious but rather silly level of spending, we must probably wait until a new generation of spenders, arrives.
"I have been working on the W. P. A. for about three months. The W. P. A. or some such arrangement is almost a necessity as long as our industrial organizations unable to properly employ people who are able
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to work. I believe that in time we will again adjust things, however, so that it will not be necessary. It scarcely would be beneficial to business employment or production to have the millions now depending on W. P. A. unable to buy at all.
"I am not a member of any church, though if I were to choose one of the [?] would probably suit me fairly well. It seems to me that the Christian Churches generally are making and attempt to worship both God and [?], a thing which their founder warned them could not be done.
"The prospects of getting employment do not seem especially good, but there should be a pretty fair chance of starting a small business. I knew a well-to-do Chinaman in Manila who began business with about $25, but of course he was only a 'Heathen Chinese'."
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 45 of 73
[Mr. Doolittle]
February 16, 23, 1939
Joseph Eliot Webb (White)
101 1/2 E. Clayton St.
Athens, Georgia
Attorney at Law
Sadie B. Hornsby
MR. DOOLITTLE
JAMES EARL DOOLITTLE, Attorney at Law, caught my eye as I was walking down the main thoroughfare of our city. I decided to get a story from this promising young lawyer.
After climbing the long flight of steps I found his name on the door of his office. I knocked, very promptly I was invited into his office. He smiled when I told him my mission, saying: "Now I really don't have anything very interesting to tell. I am sure an older person would have a more interesting life history than mine. But I don't mind telling you a few of the experiences I have had that might be of some interest to people who don't know about law."
There are several desk desks in his office, littered with papers, at one of the desk desks sat a man typing away at a rapid gate rate, apparently not consecious conscious of my presence. Bookcases filled with well -chosen law books lined the wall, and a coal heater was going full blast.
"Well, I suppose you would like for me to begin when I was born? I was born July 4, 1907 in a small town in Middle Georgia. Both of my parents are living, and are still living in the town in which I was born. My father has his own business. A modern machine shop, when he first opened up his business it was known as a blacksmith's shop. [C.? ? ?]
"My sister and I finished high school, but my parents had to sacrifice to send us to college. My mother doing her bit by selling
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milk, butter and eggs. I attended Mercer University for a year and stopped to teach school. After a year of this being principal in a small country school. I again went to college, this time to the University of Georgia in this city. My sister went to college at Bessie Tift. After she left school there, she went in training to be a nurse at St. Joseph Infirmary in Atlanta. She worked in that city, in the town we were reared in , and was nursing in Gainesville during that terrible storm, and continued to work there a while afterwards. Than she went to Washington, D. C. to take a special course in nursing. Now she is working in a hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia.
"Before I finished high school, I had determined to be a lawyer, although I did not have the slighest conception of what a lawyer was. My only acquaintance with attorneys was confined to the several ones in the town in which I lived as a child. However, I believe that the following incident decided me on the career I was eventually to choose.
"When I was in high school I saw an advertisement for some books, stating among other things that they could be ordered on trial, and, if the purchaser was not satisfied after inspection, they could be returned within ten days. After they came, I found that I was not interested in them and returned them. Shortly after this I had a letter from the seller stating that I had made a binding contract with their company, and threatening suit unless I kept them. At first I did not know what to do, and had mental visions of being sued. I was so frightened that I did not show the letter to my father or mother. Fortunately when it came
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I met the postman, and they did not know that I/ had received it. After worrying about the matter for several days I chanced to see Mr. Simpson an attorney who had often visited in our home. I told him about my trouble. He laughed and told me not worry any more for I was a minor and could not be sued, and just not to answer the letter. However, when I told him that I was afraid that the concern would write me again and my perents parents would find it out. He agreed to write them for me. I suppose that he did, for I never heard [any?] any more from them.
"This incident cemented my determination to become a lawyer, so when I attended the University of Georgia, I enrolled in the Lumpkin Law School. Fortunately, I had a good teacher there and especially one, an old gentleman, who I will call Dr. Myers. He was very peculiar, but managed to instill in the minds of his first year pupils the principle of law. This he did by scarcism sarcasm, cajolery, and incessant reading of cases, and by pure luck in the case of some of us. He was very fond of telling some unfortunate pupil who had forgotten to study his lesson that in his (the professor's) opinion the student would make a better farmer than a lawyer. Although this professor was not popular with the students of his class while they were in school, yet all of those to whom I have talked since they finished and began practicing, now admit that they learned more law in his class than in any other.
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"Finally, in July of 1929, I received my Bachelor of Laws degreem abd degree/and was shortly afterward admitted to practice before the courts of my State.
"I determined to start practicing law in the city where I finished college, although there were some thirty or forty lawyers practicing there when I finished. I therefore rented an office, bought furniture, supplies and books, and put out my shingle.
"Unfortunately, I entered into partnership with another young man who was a resident of this city, and whom I had known around town when I went to school. Naturally I thought he too had been admitted to the bar to practice in the State, so we printed stationary stationery and begun business. At first we handled only collection matters, small claims upon which we usually received fifty per cent of the amount that we collected. We were doing fairly well and was making enough to pay expenses of our office. However, we had not been in partnership long when someone informed me that my partner did not have a license to practice law. Naturally, I did not believe anything of the sort, but asked him about it anyway. Finally he told me that he did not, but that he was going to stand the State Bar examination again shortly and was sure that he would pass. However, this occurence led to other misunderstandings and we shortly desolved our partnership.
"Now, I was on my own and really began practicing in earnest. I had to learn step by step and by experience. I had only been practicing a short time, several months, when I got my first big case. The man and woman with whom I was
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boarding had a disagreement which finally led to divorce proceedings. He determined to contest her application for alimony and also was determined to gain control and possession of his two children. Since he and I were close friends he employed me in the case. I was young and over confident and would not associate an older lawyer with me, when the case first started although the wife had employed two of the best lawyers in the city. We had hearing after hearing and trial after trial. Finally after months of litigation the judge awarded one child to the wife and one to the husband, so altogether I could not say I won my first case of importance. I did not lose it either.
"After ten years of practice, I do not feel that I have accomplished very much. At least I have survived, and have now built up a sufficient practice to support myself and family. I married in 1929, soon after I begun practicing law and now have three children, two girls and a boy.
"Practice in a small town is not confined to any particular (?) bond of law. Small town lawyers do not have either the money or the opportunity to specialize in any one particular branch of the law. Criminal and Civil practice has been incriminately indiscriminately mixed with my practice.
"Surmmoned Summoned by small county courts. I try, criminal cases, suits for land, divorce cases and all kinds of collections work. usually when the city and county courts concerns several lawyers having business there will they go together. The legal profession in small southern cities is a free and congenial body, fraternizing together, as is not, the case in larger cities and other
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sections of the country. Then too, procedure and practice in the average country courts is informal, free and easy. Of course there are exceptions, but very few. During chamber hearings, which are usually held in the Judge's office (Superior Courts) on Saturday in each week, all the lawyers and parties are allowed to smoke, chew tobacco and very few rules of procedure are enforced. day of each week all the lawyers and parties are enforced.
"The greatest trouble that lawyers in small courts have to contend with is getting their cases to trial. Usually, if one or the other side does not want a case tried it goes on from term to term and from year to year until it wears out -- parties dies die, get together, or a case is finally dismissed for want of prosecution. The main cause for this is the fact that attorneys in small places have to depend upon the good will of fellow attorneys and of the judge in order to make a brotherhood, and they do not care, except in exceptional and rare cases, to incur the displeasure of their associates by insisting upon a trial in the face of a motion for continuance from the other side. Of course as procedure is being constantly simplified and "stream-lined" this objection is being overcome by these reforms.
"I joined church quite young, and I couldn't be anything else but a Baptist, as all of my people are of that denomination. I have an uncle who is pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in South Carolina. Before I finished high school and left home I belonged to all the organizations that the boys attended at my church, and taught a Sundayschool class. Mother thought I could sing so I took voice, and sang in the choir every Sunday. I did this to please my mother. I served as deacon in my church in this
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city and taught a class too. However, I don't go to church as I should now, as I am subject to call at anytime and I feel it's my duty to serve my clients whenever they call on me."
Mr. Doolittle is such a busy man it was necessary to make a second and third visit before I could finish this story. One evening I called at his home, to finish the narrative. Mrs. Doolittle met me at the door and invited me in. "Won't you sit down. I am awfully sorry my husband isn't in , one of his clients came by for him just a few minutes ago. There is no telling when he will be back. A lawyer's wife is like a doctor's, then they levae leave home, there is no need of looking for them until you see them." Mrs. Doolittle is a charming person, stout and has a pleasing personality. * Their home is nicely furnished [?], it is a one-story five-room frame house painted brown and trimmed in white. [Abelia?], ivy and a climbing rose bush bushs makes up the shrubery shrubbery in the yard.
My last trip to his office I found him very busy there were at least ten waiting in line to see him. So I took a chair and waited with the others. At last my turn came. "Well," he said, "Where shall we begin?" I told him I would like for him to tell me some of his experiences during the time he has been practicing. "Oh, just to tell you the truth, I have been so busy to day I am afraid I can't collect my thoughts on anything that would be interesting just now." I assured him whatever he told me would be sufficient. He, continued: "Well [?] let me think a few minutes. Take this one. The strangest murder case I ever engaged in or defended occured in 1933. I was employed to defend a middle age aged Negro man who was indited indicted by the Grand Jury for the murder of a younger
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Negro. The murder took place at a Negro "hot supper" [md] all were drinking, engaged in a free for all fight and during the meal the younger Negro was stabbed in the heart with an ice pick.
"My client went on trial his defence being that although he was present, that he did not commit the crime. Without going into all the facts and circumstantial evidence adduced at the trial, he was convicted and sentenced to the electric chair. I immediately appealed for a new trial, went to the supreme court where the judgement of the lower court was affirmed. Then I appealed to the Governor of the State for executive clemency, and the case was set down before him for a hearing.
"On the morning that I was to appear to Atlanta, I came to my office unusually early so as to have time to drink a cup of coffee and read the morning paper. When I opened to paper the first thing that met my eyes was a news item stating that a man by the same name as my client was to be electricuted electrocuted that morning at the State Farm. I grabbed the telephone and tried to get the Governor. Not being able to reach him I called his secretary and in a disjointed manner, for I was highly excited, tried to tell his secretary what had happened. Imagine my relief when he laughed and said, "That reporter in getting facts for a news article on executive matters. Not knowing that his case had been set before the Governor and his Executives automattically automatically staged stayed until it could be heard.' [? ? ? ? ?.]
"So I went to Atlanta, I believe that the Governor felt sorry for me since I had all ready been scared out of my wits, so after he had heard the recommendation of my client's chracter and
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read the evidence adduced at the first trial, he commuted the sentence from death to life imprisonment. So my client was sent to the penitentiary for life. He soom became a trusty and was allowed full privileges of the camp.
"His wife after two or three years began asking me to apply for his pardon. I told her that I thought it was little too early.
"Finally after nearly five years had passed I did apply for a [?] pardon in 1938.
"Just before I could get a hearing before the Crime commission I received word that my client had been killed. When I investigated. another prisoner, a trusty, had stabbed him with an ice pick [in?] the heart!
"You know there are two things a Negro will do; that is steal and lie. Well, one day two peg leg Negroes from Atlanta came here in an old ramshakled ramshackled chevrolet truck to collect scrap rion iron. They were indited indicted for stealing. One of the bailiffs called me on the case. When I reached the scene I found they had half of the truck filled with iron and the other half was bottles of all sorts and discription description. When the next term of City Court came , a man was put on the stand who was president and general manager of a plant here who [?] uses milk bottles.
"When he was put on the stand, he was asked: 'Are these bottles yours? 'Yes, he quickly answered.' 'Well, how do you know they are?' 'there is nothing to show they are yours.' Just the same he answered I know they are mine.' 'very well, you sell milk don't you?' 'I do,' 'You get 13� [?] per quart for your milk,
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isn't that true?' 'Yes, that is right.' 'Well how do you get them back?' 'I pick them up when the milk is delivered next day.' 'very well.' 'When anyone goes by your place to buy a quart of milk what do you sell it for?' 'thirteen cents for the milk and 5� deposit on the bottle.' 'that makes 18� for it, does it not? 'that's right.' 'Well do you insist upon the person buying the milk returning the bottle?' 'No, it don't make any difference to me what the do with them it, as I have the money for the bottle.' 'Well than you don't have a case against these Negroes. Unless they went to your place and deliberitely deliberately took them without your knowledge.' The case never went to the jury. That man won't speak to me today if he can get out of it. I lost about thirty dollars on that case, they paid me part of their bill and gave me a mortage on their truck. When I checked up on them in Atlanta I could find no trace of them, even at the State Capitol.
"All lawyers have trouble collecting their money. Sometimes you get it in such small amounts you don't realize when the bill is paid in full.
"Once a woman came to me for a divorce. 'I asked her where her husband was she said, ' out of the State [.'?] she was a middle age aged woman. I got the divorce for her. About a year later she came back to me and said, 'Mr. Doolittle I want another divorce.' [?] 'Another divorce I answered who did you marry this time?' 'Your first husband, 'I said.' 'Yes, my first husband.' After I was seperated separated from him I married again, than I divorced him and married my first husband. Now I want a divorce [?] from his so I can marry my second husband again.' 'My heavens can't you make up your mind which
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one you want to live with?' 'Yes, sir, I mean to marry my second husband again and live with him the rest of my days. They married and left the State, and I lost track of her. I understand she lived with him until her death. That was a case where the woman married four times and just married two men. Each one twice. However, I did not get her first divorce. That took place before I began to practice law, but I did get three divorces for her.
"I don't know whether you want me to tell you about a rape case I had or not. It was ridiculous, telling this brings out the highlights in the experience of us lawyers. A boys father employed me to represent his son. The boy was accused of raping a woman much older, who lived in another county. When the case came up she her testimony was positive. Stating he went to her home while her husband was away and assulted her. They were of low character. My client didn't have any witnesses, of course. Her statement sounded logical, so I decided to let her come off the stand and do the best I could for the boy. I had seen her around the court house several days. I asked her how they got down here, she told me she had to pay someone a dollar a day to bring her. 'do you realize what it is costing the State to pay the witnesses and and jury?' 'Yes, sir.' 'so you and your husband will get $30.00 out of this suit for hanging ariyed around [seve?] several days [?]?' 'Yes, sir.' ['so your sware out a warrant against his boy [? ? ? money?] she had answered yes, to so many questions she, said yes to that one. I put my plea before the jury. The judge was mad as fire about it. But that cleared the boy. The jury wont was out [?] about five minutes[;?] their verdict was ' not guilty. ' Of course it wasn't as easy as it is pictured, and it was proven she was mad with the boy for something else. And not what she had sworn out a warrant for.
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"Now, I believe [?] have told you about all I know that perhaps are of very much interest. I have had these things happen time and time over. To tell you about other things would only be telling simular similar cases over.
"One other incident my be of interest. A very young woman and her husband came to me to file divorce papers. It was posted and the case was to come up in the next term of court. She sued [?] him for alimony, which he agreed to pay. She went her way and he his. Just a few days before court was to convene he went for her. They patched up their misunderstanding and went back together and the divorce procreedings were with drawn. Now they are a happy couple. This was a case among many where young people marrying before definitely making up their minds as to how it would work [?] out. Now, this is all I have time to tell you to day and perhaps you will find it of sufficient interest to use ." what I have told you." At this time four men entered his office, When I left [?] they were busily engaged in earnest conversation.
While she was talking to me I glanced about the room, which contains a two piece livingroom suit upholstered in gree green, a mahogany occasional chair done in blue, with a rocker to match. Over a console table hangs a mirror, a pretty pottery vase on the table was filled with training ivy. A white lamp, [?] and books filled the long libary library table (mahogany). Two vases that had the appearance of luscious bunches of purple grapes. The mouth of the vases are the stem and a vine formes a handle on one side of the vase. Green leaves make up the decorations on the vases, these resposes respose on a spinnet spinet desk. There are several pieces of pottery on the mantel. Hanging over the desk and radio are squares of taperstery tapestry about eighteen inches square. There are two handpainted pictures, also several plaques arranged on the wall. A what- knots not was filled with doo- dabs dads. New curtains at the windows. An old fashioned low split bottom chair sat in the corner by the fireplace, a magazine stand filled with magazines and several scatter rugs places over the hardwood floor. [?] One of the children in the next room called her. "Do lets go into the diningroom? We sit in there and it is warmer." I followed her into the room where the three children were playing. She picked up the baby to quiet her. In this room was a mahogany dinnet suit. A wicker sunroom suit a large comfortable chair, fresh criss-cross curtains at the window. A babies baby's high chair, a congelouem linoleum rug on the floor. There are several pieces of china, and old fashion shaving set [md] mug, pitcher and brush holder. Vases and several other pieces of china on the plate rack around the wall. There are a few pictures hanging on the wall. There was a clock and a vase on each end of the mantel. The baby wanted water, she asked me to excuse her while she went into the kitchen for it. I told her I would like a drink too and insisted on her letting me go with her to get it. Into the kitchen was a wood range, kitchen cabinet, a table on which sat a dishpan full of dishes
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that was evident they had just finished their evening meal.
"You know we don't own this house. We have only been living here a short while." Do you mind showing me through the house I asked? "Not, at all, I would like for you to see it." She said, "Come this way." We went back to the diningroom into a narrow hall there was a wardrobe trunk and a cedar chest in it. She opened a door. "This is the sleeping porch, I cant wait until summer so we can sleep out here. Now, this is our bed room." There was a gray bedroom /# suit, of wood. An iron bed and the babies bed. "Now this is the bathroom I am crazy about the shower. James My husband perfers prefers taking a shower instead of the tub, but I can't give the children cold showers in winter. There was a clothes barket basket, [?] towels and bath mat. This is the other bed room I have given this room to my oldest daughter, she is ten years old. [#?] This room contains a walnut suit, cedar chest , chair and several other things . a little girl of that age enjoys having in her own bedroom.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 46 of 73
[Mr. Richard]
LIFE HISTORY
February 27, 1939
Mr. J. H. Emerick (white)
Mr. L. L. Emerick "
157 First St.
Athens, Georgia
Fishermen
Grace McCune
The rain was coming down in torrents as I started out in a taxi to get an interview with Mr. Richards and his son about some of their fishing trips. As the taxi crossed the river and left the pavement, it turned around a curve and started up one of Georgia's famous old red hills. It seemed to me that every time the car gained one foot, it slipped back two, and I was sure we would land in the river at the bottom of the hill. But the driver laughed, and said, "We'll make it, for I have already pulled this hill several times today."
The driver was right. We made it after several attemps and I drew a breath of relief as he stopped in front of the house. Mr. Richards and his son, Lee, were out in the back yard under a long shed looking over their fishing equipment. I never knew that it really required so many things to be a fisherman. There were fish lines, and corks for pole fishing as they called it, trot lines and baskets that they used to keep their fish in after they were caught.
Then there were the steel traps, which was used in trapping, and then their camp stove. This was made as they explained out of the steel rims of wagon wheels, as that was the best material they could get for that. The stove was a frame, made like a small table about eighteen inches, high with cross pieces, across the top for the pans, pots and especially the coffee pot to sit on and there was
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no danger of them turning over. They assurred me that with a good fire built under this stove cooking was no problem.
Picking up a large coffee pot, which would hold several gallons and was black from long use over many fires, Mr. Richards said, "This old pot has been on many trips with me, and is just like an old friend. I would not know what to do without it. We always try to be comfortable when we go on our trips. I have a tent, also these, and he showed me several camp cots, go with us also and we have good blankets to keep us warm. We have dishes to. Of course, they are tin cups and plates for they can be carried around without any fear of breaking them.
"But why are you out in all this rain today? Just to ask me about fishing. Do you want to go fishing? " " No, " I answered, "that is one thing I don't like to do. I can't be still long enough to fish and camp out. " " Only one time," I replied , " and that was with my dad and I didn't enjoy that. " "Why?" he asked. "I knew your dad and he enjoyed a good fishing trip as much as anyone I ever knew and I can't see why anyone could not enjoy it. " " Well," I admitted ," maybe you are not as afraid of snakes as I am." This brought a hearty laugh from both of them and Lee said, "just like a woman."
This was not my first visit to this home, as I had interviewed Mrs. Richards a few weeks back for a life hi story of the mill village. She heard them laughing and came out to the shed where they were showing me their things. "What are they doing to you?" she asked. Are they showing you those worms?" Her son laughed again and said, "No, she would be afraid of them for she is afraid of snakes, imagine that."
Mr. Richards said, "talking about women just look at this new fish basket of mine all the bottom cut out." Mrs. Richards laughed
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and said, "Yes I did it. He left the basket in the chicken yard, and one of my hens got in it to lay and she couldn't get out. I tried to get her out and couldn't so I just cut the bottom out. Oh, yes, they both put up an argument, said the basket cost more than two or three old hens. But I didn't see it that way, and any way the hen is out and they can put in another wire bottom. "
"Why don't you all come in the house to the fire?" Laughing she turned to me and said, "Tell him he is too old to be out in the rain." I didn't say anything. I didn't know if I should or not, for the truth was he didn't look old to me. He and his son had on their overalls, and high-top boots. I saw only a tall, very erect man, apparently not over fifty. I was surprised when he laughed and said, "Don't mind Mammy, she is just reminding me that I was seventy-five yesterday."
I was sure they were teasing and I laughed. But he grinned and said "it is a fact, yesterday was my birthday, and I am really that old, but I sure don't feel my age. But come on we will go in the house. I want you to eat a piece of my cake. In fact? I had two cakes. My daughter brought me one, and of course Mammy cooked me one. But you know neither one of them put any candles on them. I guess they just hated to remind me too much of my age.
"But I did have a nice day, for we was all at home together, and I got one of mammy's hens for dinner and I liked to think it was the one that got in my new fish basket, but of course she wouldn't have killed that one for anything. As we started in the house I remembered my last visit here and the delicious dinner that I had with them. I regretted the sandwich I had before I left town. As we went through the clean warm kitchen, I knew if they insisted I would never be able to resist that dinner.
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We went through the kitchen to a bedroom where a bright fire in the grate made the room so comfortable. The son turned on the radio to get the news report and for a few minutes they were quiet as they listened to the reports of a tornado in South Georgia. " On the day before that was terrible," he said. " But I thought last week that we were going to be blown away. " "No," he said as I started to ask where, "We wasn't here, but down on the river, and as the Negros say, 'hit was way down in Greene County'" "How did you get down there?" I asked, "Surely you didn't go that far in a boat. "
Mr. Richards laughed and said, "You evidently don't know your old Oconee River. Why I have been as far as Milledgeville, Ga. in my boat many times. " " But how do you manage about the dam? " I asked and I regretted that question immediately, for they both laughed and said, "Go over it."
Then Mr. Richards said, "We carry the boat in a truck and put it in the river below the dam and after you pass the cemetery bridge there is no more trouble, but speaking of the dam, have you ever been around it? "
"No," I replied, "I don't know why but I just never have.
"Then, you should," he replied , " and see those old pot holes as they call them. "
"Some of those holes are all of eighteen inches deep and dug out in solid rock. They are supposed to have been made by the Indians for cooking in. I have seen them ever since I was a small child, just large enough to follow my daddy around. I guess that is where I get my love of fishing for that was practically all he ever done was fish and hunt."
Mrs. Richards came to the door, and said "Come and eat dinner, then you can talk all the evening."
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I thanked her and said I had already had my lunch before I left town , " but that was a long time ago for you was here at eleven o'clock and now it is one. she insisted When you get these men to talking you will wish you had eaten and besides, Grandpa wants you to eat some of his cake. I admit it did not take very much insisting for me to eat accept. I enjoyed it very much for whether it was the chicken that caused the fish basket to be ruined, or not, It was delicious, as well as the cake.
After dinner was over and we were back around the fire, I asked them to tell me about their trip to Greene County.
"Well," Mr. Richards said, "We started out on the 11th day of January and didn't get back until the 17th of February. We did not intend to stay that long, but we got caught by the high waters and couldn't get away for we was in our boat. I think it rained just about the hardest I have ever seen and the wind was terrible. I thought sometimes that our tent would go inspite of all we could do, and if we had been up on the hill it would have blown away, for trees were just torn up by the roots, but we were down near the swamp lands and the trees around us protected us I guess. Yet it is a wonder some of them didn't blow over on the tent.
"No, we didn't have any luck on this trip. Usually we put out our traps on creeks and rivers to catch minks and musk rats, but the streams were so bad that we couldn't put out many traps and in all that time we only got about four minks and a few muskrats. We caught a few fish to eat, and caught a few squirells and some rabbits, but we had plenty to eat. The hardest thing was to get enough dry wood for fires and cooking. But you know there is always a way to get along if you try hard enough. Yet I don't like to be out on trips much when the weather is so bad.
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"Fishing is not what it has been, for I have seen the time when I could make good money fishing and hunting. It was no trouble to sell all the fish we could catch, and get a good price for them There was also a demand for game of all kind, but the automobiles have changed all that, as well as they have changed many other things, even the railroads."
"But just how have they affected fishing?" I asked.
"Will, almost everyone or at least the greatest majority of people own a car and now it is no trouble for them to get out for a day of fishing or hunting and in that way they get all the fish they want and game too. You know it does not take you long in a car to go many miles and the roads are so much better. Why, I can remember when it would have been almost impossible to get near a river with a wagon. But now, you can ride to the banks of almost any river in a car. And just look at all the freight trucks as well as the passenger busses on the highways.
"No, there is no pay in fishing any more. We have to have a license to fish, another one if we sell them, and it means a different license in every county that you go in to hunt or fish. You can't sell game either. There are so many people fishing now, that there are not as many fish as there were a few years ago. I really think Clarke County has less than any other County. "
"What do you use for bait?" I asked.
"Well, that is according to how you fish mostly. Just the common old fish bait worm is good bait and especially for pole fishing. Of course, some people like these bait that you buy. I mean these flies and things like that. I had rather hunt my own bait. There are many different kind. One is the catawba worm or 'catalpa' is the way it is spelled now I think. But it used to be just
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plain catawba and you get them off catawba tree. Did you ever see any catawba trees? "
"Yes, on a trip one time to North Carolina," I replied. "But I did not know there were many in Georgia. "
"Why I have some out here in my back yard," he said. "But you are right, there are more in North Carolina and there is a river there, that I am told, is named Catawba, because of so many of these trees along the banks. But I put out my trees especially to get the worms for fishing. The common old grub worms make good fish bait. Ground puppies are also good but hard to get. " [?] I didn't have any idea what ground puppies were and I was afraid to ask, as they had already laughed at me so many times.
But I guess my expression showed my curosity, for he said, "Did you ever see any ground puppies?" I hesitated, then very meekly admitted that I didn't know. They were having a grand time with me. But I had started out to learn something about how they fished, and I took it like a good sport and laughed with them.
"Didn't you ever go to school?" his son asked.
"Yes," I replied, "and I think I have owned a dog of most every kind, but I guess I just didn't ever own one of the ground puppies. "
This brought a yell from them, and I knew I had said the wrong thing again. So I just grinned very sickly and came across and asked what a ground puppy was. After they got over [their?] laugh. They explained that it was a worm.
Mrs. Richards also laughed with them, but said, "Don't let them get the best of you. " " I am trying not." I replied, "but they seem to be doing it just the same. But if a ground puppy is a worm. I want to know what kind of a worm it is."
Then Mr. Richards said, "Well, it is really more like a lizard than a worm. It is found under old rotten logs on river banks, but
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the swamps are the best places for them. There are different kinds. The ones that we get around here are mostly a dark blue in color and just about three inches long. But down in Greene County most of them are striped, dark blue and white, and are I believe just a little larger. There is just about twoo good bait in a dog. They have a slime on them much like a snail. Then there is another kind that you find mostly in the dryer places that are a dark reddish color, I don't like to fool with them as they are hard to find. I really don't know where they got the name of ground puppies but that is all I have ever heard them called.
"When we could fish with baskets, that is bait the basket and put it in the river, yes the basket was tied to something on the bank to keep it from washing away, but it is against the law now to fish with a basket. The bait was old spoiled cheese. I have used many different baits: muskrat cooked is a very good bait and raw meats, even the old grasshopper is fine bait for a hook, but it takes a mightly long time to get enough of these to try to fish with. A few years back when fish was plentiful, we really could catch fish in a basket.
"Did you ever see a trotline put out?" [?] I remembered little of the only fishing trip I ever made and was afraid to say, but as he seemed to expect me to say something, I asked if it was a line that run across the river for the small lines to fasten to, and for one time I was at least partly right.
"He said, "Well, you do at least know a little don't you? " and grinned, "But when we are fishing with trotlines they are put out and baited at night and we do not go back to them until the next morning. "
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"How long have you fished? " I asked.
"Well, ever since I have been large enough to follow around after my daddy. He was a great fisherman. I have fished in all the streams in Clarke County as well as other nearby counties. And I have really fished in this old Oconee River. I have had good luck, and bad luck in fishing. Many is the time I have went back to look at my hooks and find them all gone, but you will find some interesting things on the banks of the river. One of them is a very large Indian mound. It has been there so long that large trees are growing on it. I heard a few days ago that the government was going to open it and see what is in it. "
"What kind of fish do you catch around here? " I asked.
"Well, they are mostly catfish, perch and minnows, but in the fresh water lakes you catch bass and perch. The largest fish I ever caught around here was a blue cat, weighing twenty-one pounds. "
He laughed and said, "As long as you don't do any fishing I will tell you this, fish are just like a woman. When they get excited and scared, why I have even had them to jump in the boat.
"Is that just a fish story?" I asked, "or is it really facts.
"I believe you are learning," he said. " But I have really had that to happen; but I admit not often. But One time when I was a fishing trip in near Little Rock, [in?] Arkansas, and that is where I caught the largest fish I ever caught, and this is no fish story either it s weight a little over 75 pounds. Was I excited? Now, I really believe that you don't know anything about fishing, for anyone that has ever fished would know that is the ambition of a fisherman is catch a large fish and I don't know which was more excited, the fish, me or my little dog.
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As he mentioned go, ? the yellow and brown dog lying at his feet raised her head to look at him. He reached down to pat its head and said, "No, it wasn't this one. It is dead, but now you can laugh for it was just a little poodle dog but she was a good sport if she was little and would follow me, regardless of where I went. I have had to carry her lots of times because she was too small to keep up with me. But about the only time I ever saw her really scared was one day when we were fishing. She was asleep on my old coat in the bottom of the boat. I was trying to pull in a line, and evidently got the fish scared for one jumped out of the water and fell on top of the dog, poor little thing, she gave a yelp, jumped and fell out of the boat." He laughed heartily, as he said: "You know I though I never would get her to come back to the boat and she did hate to get wet so bad. After I got her back, I wrapped her up in the coat and we quit fishing for the day.
"And how I did enjoy seining. You use a net for that and just crowds of us would go seining and catch fish enough in just no time for a big fish fry, and that is really my greatest pleasure is a fishing trip off on a camp. I never did much fishing with a gill net, or as some call it a floating net. It is also against the law to use them any more, even in the open season for fishing.
"July and August are the best times for fishing around here. That is when I just can't stay off of a camp. I love the water and am happiest when I am on it. I only have two children. My son here and a daughter, but they are almost as bad about fishing as I am and have been with me many times. Lee will be just like me. In fact, he is now, and when he is not working on his job as a painter you will find him off somewhere on the river fishing or hunting. My daughter is a good fisherman and can handle a boat like a man. That
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son of hers, he is my only grandson, but I have five grandchildren, likes fishing. I used to take him with me, when he was very small.
"Do you make good with your trapping? I asked.
"Sometimes, yes," he replied, "but even that is not so much now. Of course if we could catch plenty of the game it would pay fine. We stretched the skins out on a board and dry them out good before we skip ? them off, but you know we have plenty of fox here, and they are really getting bad and something is going to have to be done about them or the country will soon be overrun with them.
"There are plenty of coons and oppossums here too? Did you ever go hunting?" he asked.
"Well, one time," I replied, "but it was just a rabbit hunt, and I didn't catch anything. He laughed and said, "Did you expect to catch them or kill them.
"My brother killed several," I replied. I knew your brother he said. We used to go on many fishing trips together, he was a good sport, always ready to go his part in every way, work or play.
"My daddy was a member of the old Volunteer fire company and as I followed him in his love for fishing and hunting, I also belonged to the Volunteer fire company. I was a member of the 'Bloomfield Hose and Reel Company No. 4. We were known as the 'dirty dozen.' There were several different companies and we had great times together, even if we were always trying to do just a little bit better than the other company. I still have a medal that was given my father by his old company, for his good service in 1873. I was one of the first ones that stayed on the fire department when it organized as a paid department in 1900.
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"Back in those old days, there were two cisterns down on the main street and rain water was run into these cisterns from gutters to be used to fight fires. One of the companies had one of those old time hand pumps and it took two men to use that pump to pump the water out of the cistern into another hose that would reach the fire. There was one or two companies of Negro volunteer firemen then also and they really did some good work. I stayed on the fire department about three years after it was re-organized and then I gave it up and went on a fishing trip.
"I also worked at the waterworks plant here for years. Yes, I have been on the police force. That was when we walked. There was about nineteen men on the force and two horses was all we had to ride and they were used by the captain and chief. I remember when they bought the first automobile. We were all supposed to learn how to run it, and do you know I haven't learned until this day how to run an automobile and don't guess I ever will. I could run it, start it alright, but when it came time to turn around or back I was out of luck, but then there was several of the boys that never learned how to run an automobile.
"But I just couldn't stay there long. I just had to get out it is just not in me to work where I can't go when I want to and I just can't stay off the river long at a time, even if I am not making much at it. But I have all this ground here and in season I raise vegetables to sell. We have two cows, and I raise my own meat. We have chickens. In fact it is almost like being out in the country and that is what I like, for I had rather have contentment and peace than riches any time.
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"Every summer we go on a camp for weeks at a time, just fishing and how we do enjoy it. Oh, yes we usually get a crowd. Then we always have company over the week end. They come out on Saturday night after they get off from work, and if we were not too far out they stayed over until Monday morning. When we are camping too far away, they have to leave on Sunday night.
"We always prepare for a large crowd on Saturday night. That is when our fish baskets are nice for we can keep fish in them in the river for days at a time and then when we are at the camps we have plenty of vegetables, chickens, eggs, butter and milk for it is no trouble to get all these things from the farmers that come to the camps for they make money by it for all the camps that I have ever been around get tired of fish and want other things to eat."
His son came back in the room at this time and said, "You are going to have to spend the night."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it is raining so hard you will not be able to get off this hill tonight.
"What time is it?" I asked and was surprised to find it past five o'clock. I began to think of how I was to get away. I said, "Well, I can get a taxi." They laughed and said, "Do you want to bet on it?
"But I don't see why I can't," I replied.
Mr. Richards said, "Well, they don't like to come up this hill for it is really bad, but still it is nothing to what it used to be.
Page 14
I soon found that they were right, for I tried one hour and didn't get a taxi and it was a long way to the bus line, but I decided to try to get to the bus and any way I didn't much like the idea of riding down that hill. When I was ready to leave I thanked them for their hospitality and that I had enjoyed the afternoon.
Mr. Richards and his son laughed and said, "We are very glad that you came for we have cetainly enjoyed having you and how about going fishing with us this summer? We will learn you how to fish, and all the differnt kind of baits and especially promise to show you what a ground puppy is."
As I started down the steps they all came to the porch with me, their son said: "Wait just a few minutes. I think I see a car that belongs to one of my friends out at the store and I will see if it is I will ask him to take you to town."
"I don't like to be any trouble," I said.
"He won't mind," he said and went on out to the store. He was back in a few minutes and said, "He will be glad to take you in to town, for that is where he is going and said he was ready to go whenever you was.
I said I was ready at any time, and as the man came out of the store I said, "GoodObye and as I was getting in the car they reminded me of the fishing trip this summer. I thanked them but I don't think I would like a fishing trip with them for they would only have another grand time trying to learn teach me how to fish. The End
 
END
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
Item 47 of 73
[Mr. Thomas J. Henry]
Thomas J. Henry, Jr.
250 Auburn Ave., N. E.
Lawyer.
By
Geneva Tonsill,
October, 1939.
The interview took place in Mr. H's law office which consists of two rooms, simply furnished but attractive.
"I am a child of the late Flora (Thompson) and Thomas J. Henry, Sr. My mother moved to Georgia from South Carolina a few years after the War Between the States. She was a very ambitious women and took advantage of the meager opportunities offered for study and improvement. She was among the first students to attend Spelman College, when it was located in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church. Her family was very poor. She was unable to pursue her studies very long at Spelman. After a short attendance in Spelman she then secured work for the then President of Atlanta University, Edmond Asa Ware. While working for his family she did part-time study in Atlanta University. This gave her a good background, and she was able to write letters to her friends and relatives, a thing she liked to do, and also to do some literary work in connection with her church and clubs. An ardent Christian woman, she was a member of Big Bethel African Methodist Church for more than sixty years and took a leading part in the church work.
"My father came to Atlanta from Morgan County, Georgia, a few years after the war. His father's name was Cudger, but after the war my father and two of his brothers went to the courthouse in Mor an County and had their names changed to Henry, as they didn't like the named Cudger. His
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grandfather was one of the late slaves brought over from Africa and was a man who never was conquered by slavery. It seems that father inherited some of the courage of his ancestors because he was a man that always stood for what he thought was right. He too took advantage of what schooling he could obtain and attended night school under Mrs. Norris, the same woman who gave Atlanta University the clock which is now in the tower of Stone Hall. With this night school training and with the work which he did himself at home, he was able to read well, a thing he liked to do, and out loud. I can picture him now sitting there at night by the lamp light with his newspaper, reading aloud, unmindful of his disturbance to the other members of the family, no matter what they were trying to concentrate on. The joy, however, he got from his reading compensated us in pleasure, for we knew how proud he was of his ability to read, so we didn't complain. He was also able to learn enough mathematics, from his untiring efforts to get an education, to take care of his business affairs.
"Very soon after coming to Atlanta my father obtained a job with a firm known as the Franklin Plumbing and Tinning Company, for whom he worked more than twenty years. During these years he was able to learn both the plumbing and tinning trades well, as the Franklin Company did much work along both lines. However, as he was colored he was very poorly paid for the work he was doing and finally decided to go out and start business for himself. After two or three years in business for himself and after having built up a fairly good trade, a law was passed requiring all plumbers to get licenses. He was ordered to report for an examination on several occasions, but for one reason or another the examiners always found that he almost passed but never quite passed. Having a growing family at that time it was necessary for him to work. He never stopped working although he was violating the law. Finally, one day while working for a white friend of his, Attorney W. A.
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Fuller, he was arrested and thrown in jail.
"Attorney Fuller, realizing the injustice of his arrest and being a man of high character, undertook his defense and was so successful that the law was declared unconstitutional, and thus the door was opened not only for my father to work at his trade but for a large number of other colored and poor whites who had been denied the privilege because of an unfair examining board.
"At the time of this incident I was just entering high school, and I was so impressed by what could be done by a lawyer that I decided then and there if I ever had the chance I would study law. I wanted to be a great lawyer like Mr. Fuller.
"My earliest recollections were when I was living in the neighborhood called "South Atlanta." This neighborhood was located just beyond the city limits in Atlanta and was settled by a mixed population, having both white and colored people living in it. Ninety per cent of the folks were in very ordinary circumstances and the other ten per cent were what we might call poor folks and was about equally divided between white and black.
"The playmates in the neighborhood were both white and colored and, though there were occasional spats, all neighbors lived together fairly well.
"It was necessary for me to attend Clark University because I lived outside the city and from that school I finished the grammar school, or the eight grades. Many of the teachers at the school were white and their children attended the school along with the colored children. When I was in the first grade, my very best friend and chum was Norman Thirkield, son of Bishop Thirkield of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Because of this friendship I was able to go inside of a cultured home and really see what there was to be had in life.
"My boyhood days were quite happy due to the fact I was not living in a
Page 4
crowded city area but was surrounded by woods, fields, branches, and streams. There were berries to be picked in the spring, nuts in the fall, and trips to be made to the woods for violets and other wild flowers. There was an old wash hole in the branch where the boys would go and swim in their birthday suits. There was the Junior League at Clark University, which at that time was banded by a Miss Marie Hardwick, a teacher there. This league had very interesting meetings on Sunday afternoons and always had various social functions, which were a source of delight to all of the children.
"Among my playmates at the time were Dr. Louis G. Wright, now head of the Harlem Hospital; Mr. J. T. Arnold, on the staff of the Y. M. C. A. in Harlem; and Mr. W. T. Cunningham, a prominent business man and realtor of Atlanta, Georgia.
"My mother had lived for a number of years on the west side of Atlanta prior to her marriage and during the first years of her marriage and never reconciled herself to living any other place, so in 1905 my father began purchasing a two-room house on Mitchell Street in the southwest section of Atlanta. In the year of 1906, when the famous riot occurred, the family added three rooms to the two-room house on Mitchell Street and moved from South Atlanta.
"I then entered Atlanta University in the year of 1906 and seven years later was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
"The teacher who impressed me most while in school was George Howe, who had charge of the manual training department of the school. So well did Mr. Howe impress me with his ability that I undertook his course after completing the high school department. I took the course of English and a professional teacher's course and became so proficient that during my last two years in college I was made instructor of the first year high school department.
"During the year of 1913, when I graduated, there was a depression in
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the country which made jobs not only scarce but unprofitable. I first taught manual training in Fessenden Academy in Florida and was paid $30.00 per month. Out of this salary I had to pay laundry fee and contribute to the Sunday School at least $1 per week. Board was supposed to be free but was of such caliber that it was necessary to supplement heavily the meals served in the dining room. It was here that I learned about 'boarding school gravy' which could be made without any sign or semblance of meat or grease. I also found how one small hen could make chicken stew for sixty people and one pound of cheese was sufficient to make macaroni for the same number. After one year at this school I decided that teaching would not do, so for the next two years I followed, intermittently, plumbing work which I had learned from my father as a boy. I also secured a job writing insurance with the Standard Life Insurance Company, which had just been started by the late Heman Perry, one of the greatest financial geniuses that the colored race has produced. During the second year with this company I travelled a great deal in the interest of the company in Georgia and Mississippi.
"Old line insurance was now among colored people at that time, and selling this class of insurance to colored people was really pioneering work. Although the work was quite hard, there were certain compensations that made the work worth while. One could learn such from travelling from county to county and seeing the conditions under which colored people lived. Many fine contacts were made during this period with people in various towns and cities in Georgia which have yielded pleasant and lasting friendships until today.
"Like the average boy, the question of the relation of the opposite sex started quite early in life. Sweethearts began with Daisy, a brown-skinned girl, who came over the fence to play quite often, and ended with Eunice. I first met Eunice in my junior year in college and, after a very regular courtship of four yours, we were married in 1917. Just an I was about to leave for
Page 6
the World War.
"At the age of twenty I joined the church, Friendship Baptist, and I have always found something to do in connection with church work. For several years prior to the war I was a Sunday School teacher and active in the Young People's Union. I an reporter, at present, for the church and make all of the general announcements at the regular church service on Sunday.
"In the spring of 1917, while I was selling life insurance in Elbert County, Georgia, my mother called me over long distance telephone to tell me that she had heard of a plan for an officer's training school and she thought it was good for me to come home at once to see what it was all about. I had been registered under the draft law and, being adventurous, I decided to take advantage of this training school. I felt if I had to serve in the army of my country, it would be better to get commissioned if possible. I was accepted by the recruiting officer and allowed to take an examination, physical and mental, which one had to pass in order to gain admission to the training school. Neither of these examinations was very difficult, so I had very little trouble in being accented for training.
"Although I was eager to experience the life of a soldier, having read quite a lot of the happenings of the World War, I must admit I was loathe to leave Eunice behind, so after several conversations with her and a little persuasion we decided to got married before I went away to war, and this we did on May 27, 1917.
"About the 12th of June, or maybe two weeks after our marriage, a crowd of recruits from Atlanta and the surrounding territory left on a special train for Des Moines, Iowa, where the task of being a soldier for two years began.
"I wasn't very much impressed with the work to begin with, due to the fact that many of our instructors were non-commissioned officers from the
Page 7
regular army who had very little literary training. I found out later, however, that the specialised training which they had in the matter of army regulations, tactics, discipline, and so forth, was of the highest quality and, although they could not speak English so well or spell correctly, they really knew what it took to make a soldier. After the training period was about over I took a real interest in the training, worked hard, and was given a commission at the end of the training period as first lieutenant.
"From time to time during our training period quite a deal of confusion and uncertainty arose among the cadets, due to various rumors as to what was being done with the officers after they completed their training. The school in the first instance was to run three months, but just a week before the school was supposed to close a riot occurred in Brownsville, Texas, in which colored troops from the 24th Infantry participated. These troops had been abused by prejudiced white citizens of Brownsville and were so aroused by the unfair treatment accorded them that they went to their barracks and got service rifles and shot up the town. This incident caused the War Department to defer commissioning of colored officers at that time and so we were kept in training for another month.
"Among those who investigated the riot was Sergeant Holland who had been non-commissioned officer in charge of Company 7 to which I was attached. Sergeant Holland was one of the brightest non-commissioned officers at that time in the army. He had been quarter-master sergeant for a long time and knew the supply business exceedingly well. At no time during the 18 months that I served with Sergeant Holland was his company without adequate food and clothes even when in the front lines. Sergeant Holland is now at the Veterans Facility at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, where he still has charge of quarter-master supplies.
"Finally, at the and of our training we were given two weeks' absence and then ordered to report to one of the cantonments for duty. The various
Page 8
captains selected their officers at the camp and I was quite surprised when I was selected by Captain Holland. I hadn't thought that I had made the kind of impression that would make him want me as an officer in his company.
"The regiment to which I was attached was ordered to train at Camp Dodge, which was located just a few miles from Des Moines, Iowa. This camp was the home of the 38th Division.
"The winter of 1917-18 was spent in training raw recruits for combat service and for special training in the use of certain arms, and the officers took turns in attending the school for machine gunners, while highly technical problems were worked out in connection with theory of fire arms. This winter was a very severe one, and in the course of the winter I contracted tonsilitis which caused an impairment of my hearing which has persisted ever since."
It is very difficult to talk with Mr. Henry, for one ordinarily feels he has to shout to make himself heard, but it is not true in his case, for he watches the lips very closely and thus readily understands, and so I found myself trying one minute to tone down my voice and the next minute shouting.
It was late in the evening, about 9:30 o'clock, and it seemed that Mr. Howe had planned previously to end his talk with me by asking me to do some work for his benefit. He looked at his watch and said, "Well, its 8:30 and I have some documents I have to get out for court in the morning. Will you type them for me, please?" As tired as I was, I could not very well refuse his request, for I had taken quite a deal of his time and, too, he had it all figured out by saying, "This is my bread and meat and your getting my story is yours, so you help me and I'll help you." I put aside my pad and told him I'd do the document. He explained that he didn't have a regular secretary but he hoped to in the near future. I was very tired, as I had carried my work over into the night, hoping to get the entire interview. I consoled myself, however, by saying, "This is my good deed for the day."
Page 9
The document he gave me was a petition to a superior court judge by one of his clients who was getting permission to sell some real estate to her husband. He gave me a book and turned to a page where a similar document was printed so I could see just how it was to be formed, as I told him I knew nothing at all about forming law documents. I will write out an example of one of the documents on a separate sheet, for it isn't every day one has an opportunity to get the inside of proceedures of law. Well, I did the work in an hour and he was quite pleased over his evening's work. He asked me to return the next day to complete my interview with him.
"It was thought that if I had remained in the United States and taken regular treatment for the trouble with my hearing that it would have been cured but, due to the scarcity of officers, I was sent along with the others to France, where the rain and cold aggravated the trouble and left me permanently impaired.
"After I got to France and had undergone the general training period, our regiment was sent to a so-called quiet sector in the Vosges Mountains. It was customary to send out patrols into No Man's Land each night, and because of my impaired hearing I was unable to take my turn and for this reason I was relieved from combat duty so that an officer could be put in my place who could be put in my place who could take his turn. This move lessened the amount of danger to which I would have been exposed a great deal. I was assigned as company commander of the labor company which furnished work details for a veterinary hospital that furnished first aid to horses. This work was quite life because the hospital was situated some distance behind the front lines and life in the villages went on with ordinary routine, except that no lights were allowed to be shown at night and we were constantly on the alert for air raids.
"The armistice, on November 11, 1919, brought relief to all our minds and it also brought the problem as to just what we would do after we returned to
Page 10
civilian life. After being discharged we all were sent back to the good old U. S. A.
"After being discharged, the Standard Life Insurance Company, for whom I was working at the time I entered the army, through its secretary, Harry H. Pace, offered me a position as attorney in the real estate and mortgage loan department. My service was to begin just as soon as I could qualify for some.
"With this commitment I was able to procure from the Government Rehabilitation Department first a course in lip reading, followed by a course in law. The lip reading was done in the Nitchie Lip Reading School in New York, while the law course was completed at Brooklyn Law School.
"Immediately after graduation I started my duties with the Standard Life Insurance Company, which was then affiliated with the Service Company and other organizations under an interlocking board of directors. These organizations had grown very rapidly, in fact so rapidly that the personnel of the companies couldn't keep their records space with the growing concern. There was such work to be done in the department that I went in, seeing that all of the proper papers in connection with the purchase and mortgage of estates were in the files. I had to work hard and, by working overtime and on Sundays, in the course of six months I was able to put my department in very good order. However, the fact that the records were not up to date caused a great deal of confusion. Certain financial companies in Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee, censured this situation, connived with the insurance department of the State, and, through political pressure and otherwise, obtained control of the Standard Life Insurance Company and the other companies associated with it. The insurance company was first taken over by the Southern Insurance Company of Nashville, and then the following year by the Standard Life Insurance of Arkansas. It was finally taken over by the National Benefit Insurance Company.
Page 11
The contents of the document follow:
Georgia, Fulton County, Oct. 1939.
To the Judge of Superior Court.
The petitioner, Geraldine Waller, respectfully shows:
1st. That she is a resident of said county.
2nd. That petitioner is the wife of F. M. Waller.
3rd. That the petitioner owns as a part of her separate estate the following described property, to wit,
(The description was taken from the deeds to property).
4th. That your petitioner desires to sell and her husband, the said F. M. Waller, desires to purchase the said above described property.
5th. That the reasonable value of said property is $1000.00. which the said F. M. Waller has agreed to pay to your petitioner and which your petitioner has agreed to accept.
Wherefore, the promises considered, an order authorising and allowing her to sell the above described property to her husband, P. M. filler, is prayed.
Petitioner's Attorney.
At Chambers.
Atlanta, Georgia, Oct. 11, 1939.
After reading the above, and foregoing petition having been presented to me and after hearing evidence as to its value, it to considered, ordered and adjudged that the petitioner, Geraldine Waller, be allowed and to hereby authorized to sell the properly hereinafter described to her husband. F. M. Waller. for the sum of $1000.00.
(Description of property) Judge of Superior Court,
"Now after you have done that document I'd like you do two affidavits for the real estate agents and notary public to sign.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 48 of 73
[Mr. Trout]
[HOMER L. PIXX,?]
[as Carrier t.,?] Atlanta, Georgia.
"Tell you my life history? Sure, I don't care. As a matter of fact I've been thinkin' about writin' it up myself. I've done a little bit of everything and --- don't think I'm braggin' --- but I believe it's interestin'. I've already written up some of it; thought I'd make a story of it some day. You want me to tell it in my own words --- just like I talk? Well, yes, I guess you're right. I couldn't very well tell it in any body else's words, could I?
Mr. Trout leaned across the table in the teachers' study room and tossed his lessons for the evening class aside. He was quite ready, even determined, to tell all. He is a young man, not yet forty, with a [scarthy?] complexion and broad, blunt features. His [temp?] is that strange contrast of the [introvert?] and [extrovert?], much given to self-analysis and, quite [pleased?] with his inner findings, [ively?] assumptions that others will be equally so. Extremely [?], he is in no sense the [tistical?] here. It is simply that he [frankly?] regards himself as a most interesting character and, as much, feels no [resilience?] in discussing his favorite topic. So much [intrespection?] has [engendered?] a confusing complexity of character that almost eclipses his personality, but it has left him a very pleasant disposition, marred only by the [?] of [?] and bitternesses of [opinion?]
His mental [processes?] are quick, but [erratic;?] his views progressive and sometimes a bit radical. [Education?] has been but a [?], as evidenced by his speech. It was that of carelessness rather than ignorance. When [?] of my note-taking he was stilted, even [pedantic?] and [backish?], but if my questions touched his feelings deeply, he became [callequial?] and ungrammatical with little regard for [?] or persons. His own awareness of his shortcomings had filled him with a keen sense of inferiority equaled only by a determination to complete his education through [extra-rural?] study.
Page 2
"Well, I'll begin at the beginnin'. I was born August the fourteenth, nineteen-one, in the country about seven miles from Fort [?], Alabama. That's in [?] County. My father was a tenant farmer. I was born in a two-room rough lumber cabin. The livin' room and bedroom was combined, and there was just a shanty for a kitchen. No, it wasn't a separate buildin', it was just worse than the other room, so I called it a shanty. I was the first child. I later had five brothers and one sister --- that lived, I mean. Two others, a boy and a girl, died in infancy.
"My father just made a livin'. Mother also worked on the farm. She picked cotton. I remember distinctly Mother takin' me in the fields when I was just a little fellow and placin' me on a blanket or in the cotton basket while she worked. I played with frogs and things while she worked.
"I started to school when I was six. Had to go about three-quarters of a mile across the fields. One distinct thing I remember was my first day at [Old?] [Knell?] school. Mother fixed my lunch that mornin'. I remember she put fried flapjacks and a bottle of ribbon [cane?] syrup in a tin box for me, and I trudged along with it under my arm.
"My [next memory?] was a "[Punch?] and Judy" show that came to the school. You know off in the backwoods like that we didn't have much in the way of entertainment and it was a big event. They had this show on a little porch attached to the school. You might say that was my first contact with the "theatre". Another thing that occurred at this time --- and I have a knot still on my head to show for it --- was a fight with another boy about my age. I don't know what we fought over, but I remember he hit me with a brick and knocked me clean over a well. No, I don't mean that I just fell on top of the well-box but that he knocked me all the way across it.
Page 3
"Along about this time too I had my first sweetheart. She was a girl there in school; seven years old, the same age as me. I thought she was the most wonderful thing in the world. I'd get all flushed and goose-pimply when she'd notice me.
"I can tell you, too, when I got my first conception of the value of money. I had to go every day to a lady's house who gave us buttermilk. One day I found a nickel in the road comin' back. The next day my father had been makin' [charcoal?]. You know how they do that? He'd stack up some pine logs in a tepee fashion and bank it with pine straw and clay, and set it afire from the inside. Of course he'd leave a vent and let it burn slowly for several days. Well on this day the landlord told me he'd give me a dime for all the [bits?] of charcoal I found left lyin' around. He'd use it in the blacksmith shop.
"Well I picked up all I could find and he gave me the dime and then I had fifteen cents. Daddy was goin' to Fort [?] next day. I always thought that was a marvelous thing --- goin' to Fort [?]. We'd travel in a two-horse wagon. Well I went with him and I bought enough cloth there with my fifteen cents to make two shirts.
"And while I think of it --- when we paid a visit to my grandmother's, she lived about twenty-five miles away, it was an [?]. We'd start out early in the mornin' pulled by a mule [??]. "Course we'd take our own lunch along and eat it on the way, and when we got to my grandmother's we'd find she'd cooked up a lot of good things for us. I don't know how she always know when we were comin'; I guess we sent word days before by somebody goin' that way. Both me and the mule saw our first automobile on one of those trips and she ran away and nearly wrecked the wagon. I just stared at it wide-eyed.
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"Grandfather had been rather successful. He had a [?] --- or a [?]. You'd better call it that so people'll know what you mean. I thought it was the grandest thing in the world. He wasn't exactly rich but I thought he was quite well off. And he was, compared to us. He owned the first [? gramaphone?] I'd ever seen and that made him seem wealthy to me. It had cylinder records --- cut records, we called 'em --- that fitted on a steel bar and [open?] around. Of course Father had taken me to town and I'd seen those machines the men had on the street, where for a penny they'd let you stick little tubes in your ears, like a doctor's stethoscope, and listen to the music. But my grandfather was the only person I knew who owned a [gramaphone.?]
"Yes, I remember some of the tunes he had. One was called 'the Preacher and the [Bear?]". I don't remember all the words, but it went somethin' like this:
'the preacher went out huntin' early on one
Sunday morn'.....
And then I forgot what goes in between, but it ended up with:
"O Lord, if you can't [hep?] me, please hold that
bear!'
O Yes! there was one line about
'O Lord, you saved Jonah from the belly of the whale.'
I remember when my mother's sister got married at my grandmother's, all the people were sittin' around in the parlor after the weddin' and they had that record on the [gramaphone?] playin'. Well the needle got stuck on the word 'belly' and it kept' playin' 'belly-belly-belly-belly-belly'. It was funny.
"Other songs I remember were 'Over the Waves", 'Just Before the Battle, ['Mother'?], 'Uncle Josh [Billings?]', and '[Cohen?] at the telephone'. That reminds me to mention some of the songs my mother used to sing to me. You'd probably be interested in them. They were '[Barbara Ellen?]' --- that's an old English folksong --- and 'Old Black Joe'.
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"My great-grandmother (on my mother's side) --- I remember her. She cured a knot on the back of my neck once by puttin' three grains of corn in a handkerchief and rubbin' them on the knot and then makin' me take 'em out and bury 'em in the ground. She said the knot was a beginnin' cancer, but I guess it wasn't because she died of cancer herself. She'd "talk fire" out of people, too, when they'd burn themselves. She'd take their hand, or whatever part they burnt, and blow on it and whisper and mumble somethin' to herself and just "talk it out."
My ancestry? Well my father was born in [?] County, Georgia. My grandfather (on my mother's side) was born there too. I heard my great-grandmother say my great-great-grandfather stowed away on a ship and came over from Ireland. I don't remember where he landed, but he came straight to Georgia. That was in the late seventeen hundreds. He got a job with John Howard, who owned a big [plantation?]. He was blacksmith; made plough stocks. That is, he was supposed to. He really didn't know anything about it, but he had an old Negro helper there on the plantation who did. So he got by. In fact, he was so successful that he finally married Howard's daughter, my great-great-grandmother, of course. My father's people were Pennsylvania Dutch stock but I don't know much about them.
"My change from farm life came when I was nine years old. Dad moved away and rented a farm instead of bein' a tenant. But he didn't farm seriously any more. He'd become ill from Bright's disease. It was a hard life he'd led. I can distinctly remember him comin' in at the end of the day all tired out and eatin' our scant meal of cornbread, peas, and cane syrup, and then goin' right to bed. We'll he'd saved a little money, so he wrote to some publishin' company and got the [agency?] for sellin' Bibles, New Testaments, and the New Sales [?], trying' to add to the family income. I especially remember the Red-Letter Testament he sold.
Page 6
"My father was, you might say, really a literary man. He wasn't really much for farmin'. He always cared a lot about books --- good books too. I remember some of the books he read to me. They were "[?] and [May?]", "a Slow Train through [Arkansas?]", and the "Story of Jesse James". By the way, as a child I had an impediment with my speech and I remember there was a tongue-twister he'd made me say. It was 'thistle on thostle as thick as my thumb, put him in a coffee-pot and beat him like a drum."
"Well he went around through the country in a horse and buggy takin' orders. He swapped one of those big, old-fashioned Bibles --- a $35.00 one --- for the horse and buggy. The horse was so poor it could hardly stand up. I remember father comin' back with it and the buggy the day he got 'em. He said that all the way home he'd have to get out and pull the horse or push the buggy.
"Well after workin' at it awhile he decided it was a good business, and since he couldn't do any more farm work he sold the farm interests and moved to Cedar Grove near [Veletta?]. He had a brother there who'd done pretty well raisin' peanuts and pigs. he'd feed the peanuts to the pigs. No, not all of 'em; he'd sell some of the peanuts. We lived with him a month.
"We went to town once in a while. "Town" was Jefferson, Georgia. I remember goin' to town once, and comin' back I fell off in the road and the two-horse wagon ran over my chest. Just one wheel. But it was so sandy along there that it just pushed me down in the sand. They thought I was killed. I remember how they carried on. But I was only slightly hurt.
"Well, as I said, we lived with my father's brother for just about a month, and then there was family differences. They had a big quarrel, so we moved to Jefferson and lived with some of my relatives on the main street, which wasn't very main. Then we rented a house of our own, my mother and father and three brothers. My sister hadn't been born yet. I started to school. We lived near the railroad and I remember my chief recreation was watchin' the trains go by.
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"I had my first initiation into sex along about then. My cousins were responsible. They showed me how to masturbate. I don't know whether I really ought to bring this in or not, but it was somethin' that really affected my whole life and it's important. It had a psychological effect on me that lasted for years. Yeah, I'd heard all the old stories about how it makes you go blind or gives you heart trouble or drives you insane. It had a terrible effect on my religious life, but in a way you might say it was a good thing because it made me think --- really think --- about God for the first time. Oh of course my mother had made me pray and everything, but this got me to thinkin' about Him on my own I mean. I felt that I was awful --- evil --- and wicked -- just horrible. I thought I was just too sinful to live. I got me a cross from somewhere --- I don't know where --- and I'd get down with it and pray to God to give me strength not to do it again. Oh! how I'd pray that he'd make me stop it. I'd make all sorts of promises and tell Him he could kill me if I did it again, but I always did it again and then I'd beg Him not to kill me that time but to do it next time. I was only ten-and-a-half years old then. It ain't right that a kid has to feel like that.
"Well the next event I remember was that father decided we might do better in a factory town. So we went to [Dogwood?], Alabama. He had another brother there. Father went first. He went to work right away in a cotton mill as a quiller (that's operatin' a machine that winds thread into quills for [?] for heavy duck cloth). He came back in a few days and he got a wagon from my uncle --- borrowed it --- the one we'd been livin' with in Cedar Grove. We loaded all the household goods on it and went back with him.
"Well for a few weeks we shared a house with my uncle in [Dogwood?]. It was a company house owned by the mill. My father and my uncle and my cousin worked in the mill there , eleven and twelve hours a day. My uncle's house had the first
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electric lights I'd ever seen. We lived just three hundred yards from the superintendant's house, and I thought it was a mansion. It was a big house, or at least I thought it was big then, and it had grass in the front yard. All the other houses just had dirt yards. He had an automatic water pump in the [well?], too. It pumped the water up to a tank and when the water got too low I could hear the pump throbbin' when it started up. You might put in that this was my first introduction to mechanics. I [know?] it's when I first got interested in what makes things work; machinery, y'know.
"We lived with my uncle a few weeks and then there was again family differences. So we moved to another house, another company owned house. I went to the mill school, but I left the seventh grade just before I was eleven and went to work in the mill. The age limit was eleven years, but my mother signed me up as bein' eleven. That was so if the law or anybody questioned it they'd have this paper to show she said I was that old. My mother was already workin' as a spooler. A spooler winds the thread on big wooden quills which were goin' to the twisters where they were made into one big thread which then went to the wheeler and [weavin'?] rooms.
"My first job was pickin' up dropped quills in the spooler room and sweepin' the floors and separatin' the clean waste from the dirty. A waste-picker and sweeper they called me. I worked five-and-a-half days a week at sixty-five cents a day. Eleven hours a day. The thing that was [?] to me was that all the men and women chewed tobacco or snuff and I'd have to separate the list by hand and it'd have all the spit and [phlegm?] from their throats in it. I was always afraid of gettin' some disease. Sometimes it'd make me vomit to handle it, and I'd always gag.
"In my spare time I got books from the library. It was owned by the mill too. I was a [devout?] member. I read lots of history and all the magazines.
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Life magazine --- the old Life with its funny cartoons --- the Literary Digest, and things like that.
"I stayed at the mill till I was seventeen. I'd got to be a [doffer boy?] --- takin' off the full quills and puttin' on empty bobbins. I got quite proficient and could "run" the other doffers in. That means I got through before they did. We'd each get on a row and start down the line throwin' the quills off and puttin' the bobbins on and we called that 'runnin' 'em in'. I made eight or nine dollars a week at that.
"Then they taught me to spin. It was a woman's job, but they were short of women spinners. No I didn't like it. And I didn't like the bosses. They were mean. If you got behind they'd come down the line and whistle at you. They'd put their fingers in their mouths and make a shrill, piercing whistle that let everybody in the buildin' know you were behind. So I became contrary and decided I could lose my job by bein' unruly. But they were short on labor and so they didn't fire me. They just pacified me by transferrin' me to the cloth room. That's where you examine the cloth through a magnifying glass to see how well it's woven. And there's supposed to be a certain number of threads to the inch, dependin' on the kind of cloth it was. The job paid fifteen dollars a week. It was easier work, cleaner work, and I felt like it was a white-collar job. I had some authority, too. I could lay the cloth aside and call in a worker and have the boss bawl him out. I could make 'em and break 'em. Of course if there was a worker I liked I'd say good things for him.
"From this time on I was anxious to get promoted and in my spare time I studied the job of the calendar man. The calendar man pulled the cloth over a machine that made a record of its width and length --- every piece of cloth manufactured in the mill. This fellow wore a collar and tie and I distinctly remember the pencil behind his ear. Well I wanted to be like him. He didn't
Page 10
have to work; he had a negro boy who watched the machine and he just took it easy. I decided that was the kind of job I wanted. Finally, by my diligent work, I attracted the attention of the overseer. One day the calendar was sick and the overseer came around and asked me if I thought I could do the calendar job. I said I was pretty sure I could, so he tried me out and in a few days he told me the job was mine. I felt I was up in the world. I could always wear a clean shirt, you know, and a tie. I put a pencil behind my ear too. Mother and Father were very proud of me.
"I'd already started goin' to night school. I was seventeen years old and it was during this time the World War in Europe broke out. I'm puttin' this in to show the scarcity of labor and the boss's attitude toward labor. There wasn't any too many workers then and I remember if I was sick the boss would come around to the house and ask me how I felt and want to know when I could get back on the job. Well of course I'd try hard to get well then. And during the war, every once in a while, they paid us a "double-ticket" --- just twice as much money as we actually earned. This was to make us feel good and stay with 'em, and also, I guess, because they were makin' so much money. And they'd give me a bonus at Christmas time too. It was a special check with Holly leaves and berries on it. I still remember them.
"Mother had been tradin' with a department store in [Eastland?], Georgia, and they always sent a salesman around on Saturday or Monday. It was owned by some Jewish fellow. Well one time he came around with his collector on that route and he must have seen me because he told my mother they needed a salesman and he liked my appearance. You see I was younger then and I looked better than I do now. So I decided to go to work for him. When the mill found out I was quittin' the boss came around and begged me to stay on. He says, "You're next in line for a second-hand job'. A second-hand job was the job next to
Page 11
the overseer of a department in the mill. Well I investigated and I found out that another calendar man had been workin' on the same job for five years or more and they'd been promisin' him a second-hand job all along. So I figured the boss was just talkin' and I went with the store.
"I got fifteen dollars a week and could buy the things I needed from the store at cost. I like it 'cause I could stay dressed up all the time. I sold furniture and delivered it in a truck and then went around collectin' every Saturday or Monday. Sometimes I'd collect as much as five hundred dollars and I felt real proud that they'd trust me with so much money. I'd better tell you, too, that they ran an undertakin' parlor along with the rest of the business. It was on the second floor. I worked in there too. My duties were to handle the fluids while they were embalmin'. I had to go out to the cemetery with a Negro [?] and supervise the diggin' of the grave and settin' up the [?] and all that. It had an awful depressin' effect on me. I never have cared about dyin' since then. I always thought how awful it would be to be buried. I was scared to think about death for a long time after that job. To show I had superstitious traits, I remember I had to go up to that floor one dark winter afternoon and sweep out the room where the coffins were stored. I didn't want to do it, but I kept arguin' with myself that dead people couldn't hurt you. Well I was sweepin' with cold chills runnin' up my back and somehow I upset a stack of empty coffins and one of 'em fell over and struck me on the head. It was one a convict had been in. Years later I had an auto wreck and struck my head in the very same spot that coffin had hit me. It was quite a coincidence.
"Well I worked there till [1920?]. I was nineteen years old then. In [19?] the flood came. The [Chirpalisbee?] River overflowed its banks and covered the entire business district of [Eastland?]. We stacked up the goods; piled them
Page 12
up on the counters and anything that was high enough to escape the water. We had to spend the night in the store. It just came up so sudden we didn't have a chance to get home or anything. We all slept on cloth in the storeroom. Next mornin' the water broke through the store windows; the pressure was so great, y'know. I wanted to get out. I was afraid the buildin' would collapse from the pressure or by bein' undermined. So you know what I did? I tied belts of cloth together and swung down out of the window to a [?]. There was [?] all around in the water rescuin' folks.
"I came back several days later after the water had receded. It'd left slime and [silt?] all over the first floor. We had to clean it up. The boss was all broken up. We had on rubber boots shovelin' up the stuff and the boss came over to me and says, '[My?] God, get to work and clean this up!' Just because I'd been standin' around doin' nothin' for a few minutes. I lost my temper and told him to go to hell. I said I wasn't hired to do any dirty work like that and that I didn't have to work for him. So I lost my job.
"Then I got a job as a soda-jerker. I think you oughta call that a soda-clerk; it sounds better. Besides, I waited on people for all sorts of things; not just drinks. Yeah, I got the job easy although I'd never made drinks before. Labor was short in those days and it was no trouble to get a job. I always figured I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do. And I didn't then. But I've got more sense now, had some of that knocked outta me. Well I made seventeen dollars a week there. You notice every time I quit one job and went to another one I gotta raise. Maybe that's one reason I quit so many. Of course the accusation might be raised that if I'd stuck to one job I would have made more of a success. Well I worked at this drugstore two years. Had charge of the whole store. This added to my feelin' of egoism, you might call it. Then I had a fallin' out with the manager. One day I was writin' a letter
Page 13
to a girl and I had to stop to wait on a customer. Well while I was waitin' on the customer the delivery boy started readin' my letter. There's nothin' makes me madder than that. I told 'im I'd kill 'im if he didn't stop. Well he didn't, so I took the heavy glass top form a big pineapple jar and threw it at him and broke a showcase. I remember it nearly scared hell out of the customer and she --- she was a woman --- ran out of the store. When the manager came back we had some words and I got mad again and said somethin' and he fired me.
"So then I went to work for an electrical contractor who was puttin' in conduits in the mill there. I was an assistant's helper gettin' eighteen dollars a week and board. Another raise, you see. Well I worked for them till the job was completed. In the meantime my people had moved to LaPlant..... I forgot to tell you. Father had got a job in a mill there. So after this job I went to LaPlant. There was a minister holdin' an Episcopal revival service there and I didn't have anything better to do so I started goin' to the meetin's. I got to know the evangelist. I'd help him put up the tent and after a while he started takin' me around the countryside with him in an ole T-model Ford. I'd help him set up the things for the meetin'.
"One day he said to me, 'You know, son, the ministry's a great service to humanity. How would you like to go into it?' Well I said I had no education, but he said he'd take care of that. So I thought it over for several days and finally I said yes. The first thing he did was give me a prayer book and make me learn the [catechism?]. He said he'd see the Bishop and arrange my startin' to school. Well the Bishop came down and confirmed me.
"I took a special examination and entered the eighth grade. The preacher in the meantime had gotten me a room with a man and his wife who worked in the mill so I wouldn't be a burden on my people. He gave the people some food and I took care of the house in return for my bed and board. I'd sweep and make
Page 14
the beds and cook up their lunch for them before I left for school, and then I'd run home later and warm it up so I'd have it hot for them by the time they got there. Yeah, I can still cook. Good, too.
"Later I entered the LaPlant High school and went to live with the preacher. He had a big library --- lots of books on theology, and I read 'em. On Sundays I was a lay-reader and I taught a Sunday School class. Well I completed high school and then moved to [Steward?] with the minister. I entered [Dell?] Academy there and got my diploma. Then I went to Derby College at [Terrspeel?], Florida. I studied to get an [M.B.?] degree. I went there two years. While there I met some Jewish and Spanish students who influenced my ideas of religion and I began doubting whether any one religion was better than another, and I didn't feel I should enter any particular ministry until I was sure I was teaching the Truth.
"Well the preacher was very nice about it when I talked it over with him. He helped me justify my position although both he and the Church had been supportin' me and sendin' me through college. He had said all along that all the Church expected of me was to pass along to the world --- to humanity --- what I'd learned.
"In addition to my changin' thoughts on religion my old habit of masturbation was still troublin' me and interferin' with my spiritual thoughts. I was strugglin' within myself and couldn't somehow feel right about it all in my mind. Try as I did I couldn't be what I wanted to be and I was gettin' very unhappy. So the upshot of it all was I left college and went back to LaPlant. I was only there a short time when I got a letter from a friend of mine who I'd know at college. He'd left before I did and gone to Boston and opened a candy store. He wrote and asked me if I wanted to work for him that season
Page 15
at Coney Island and later go on to California with him. He asked me to wire him an answer. So I wired him and said yes and he wired me some money back that afternoon and I left LaPlant the next morning. Well I worked that summer at Coney Island. I learned to make candy and they sold it in the front of the little shop. I was twenty-five years old then and makin' at least forty dollars a week and sometimes one hundred dollars a week.
"I married my first wife there. She was workin' in the candy kitchen, or, rather, she stood out front and gave away samples. She borrowed some money from me; that's how I really got to know her. She was broke and couldn't pay her rent and I just sympathized with her and lent her the money. And then I got started goin' around with her a little and in a few weeks we got married. She was an Americanized girl of Russian ancestry and she came from the [?] district of Pennsylvania. She was a Roman Catholic, too, and when we got married we went first to a priest, but he wanted the children to be Catholic. I wouldn't have that, so, me bein' an [Apiscopalian?], we went to an Episcopal minister.
"Well we rented a furnished apartment and she stopped work. We lived together about a month and then she decided to go to Chicago to visit some friends. She came back in two weeks and stayed until I was ready to go to California with this fellow. He'd saved about ten thousand dollars and the season was closin' at Coney Island and he wanted to leave right away. So we went by way of Chicago and I left my wife there. I gave her one hundred dollars to take care of her until I could get settled in California. She'd already been promised a job in Chicago when she went to visit her friends. It wasn't exactly a job yet, but she was to get a small salary while learnin' the trade of beautician in a beauty shop, one of a chain throughout the country.
"I stayed one night in Chicago with her. I remember we went to a theater and saw Gilbert and Sullivan's [?]'. Then we went to some restaurant and
Page 16
I spent seven dollars for supper. I didn't know it was gonna be so much, but the waiter kept bringin' on food. As fast as we got through with one thing he'd bring on another and when the man at the door gave me the check it was seven dollars. I spent forty dollars altogether that night. I don't know what on.
"I left the next day with my friend and drove to Springfield, [Ne.?], where we stayed three days. My friend had a brother there who was married and had a little girl seven years old. Well when he heard we were goin' to California he decided to go along with me. So he picked up another woman he was in love with and left his wife and child and came along in his car with us. We drove out over the Santa Fe Trail and just took our time. We stayed three days at the Grand Canyon. On the way out this woman with my friend's brother became [dubieus?] about livin' with him without bein' married to him, so they asked me to read the marriage service to them since I was a layreader. Well I slipped into an Episcopal church in some town -- I forget where --- and [purlained?] a prayer-book. You know how they have them layin' all about in the church. So I got one and read them the service and she felt better about it. I forgot to tell you that she had a boy friend of her own and when he heard we'd brought her along with us, he jumped in his car and followed us. He caught up with us in [shfort?], Arizona, but we got away from him. Then, to throw him off the track, we bought some grey [calcimine?] and painted over the red trimmin' on the car. He didn't do a very good job of it and part of the red showed through, and the cops stopped us because they thought it was a stolen car. We had a hard time convincin' 'em some kids had done it on Halloween.
"Well we arrived in San Diego on Christmas Eve. He and my friend got an apartment. My friend's brother had done a lot of readin' on psychology and psychiatry and stuff and so he decided to ba a psychoanalyst and on the trip out we planned that I was to be his secretary. I was carryin' all his
Page 17
money for him -- five thousand dollars that he'd drawn out of the bank back in Springfield. He let me carry it because he said I didn't look like I had money and nobody would try to hold me up. When we tried to deposit it in the bank at San Diego they called the cops and he had to prove the money was his. Well, anyway, his plans about bein' a psychoanalyst didn't pan out. He tried to get an office right at first, but because he couldn't get the one he wanted, he gave up the idea. The truth was, he was too infatuated with his woman to give any time to business. I don't know what became of him, but that sort of stuff goes over big out on the West Coast. I mean the psychoanalysis.
"I lived with my friend a short time while lookin' around for a job. Finally I got one sellin' subscriptions for a newspaper. They paid me seven dollars a week and I got one dollar for each subscription. Well I couldn't make enough money on that to save any to send for my wife, so I borrowed [some?] equipment from my friend and set up a candy place. I set the equipment up in the backyard of the apartment where I lived. I made candy in the mornin' and then went out in the afternoon and peddled it. I'd sell about one hundred bags and average eight or nine dollars a day. This was durin' the cold season. Well when the warm season came on people wouldn't by candy and so I had to give it up.
"Then I got a job selling furniture polish from office to office. The second day I was on this job I was trying to sell a man. He said he wasn't interested but we talked a while and he said he was gettin' ready to go into the candy business. He was goin' to pack it specially in tin cans to keep out the moisture, you know. He was all ready to go, but said he didn't have a candy maker. I said, 'Well, brother, I'm your man!' So he opened up a place and I went to work makin' candy again. It's funny that I'd just gotten
Page 18
out of the business and then ran right into him. Well, he paid me thirty dollars a week and when I'd saved a hundred and fifty dollars I sent for my wife.
"She came right out and, to show you how she'd changed, I remember when I went down to the station to meet her, she wouldn't even kiss me. I guess her love had cooled in just those few months. I figure [now?] she just wanted to get to California and she didn't give a damn about me after she got there. [She?] just usin' me for a good thing.
"She had become a professional beautician by then and was workin' regularly in the beauty shops. Well as soon as I met her she told that the owner wanted her to go on to the Los Angeles shop and she gave me orders to go on with her. You know, they'd switch 'em around from one shop to another, if they was good. Well she gave me orders to pack up and go with her. Mind you, all this was before we even got home from the station. Well I didn't want to go, but she insisted that I give up my job and ordered me to go on with her.
"Well I loved her and so I gave up my job and we left the next day for Los Angeles. But on the train she told me that in a business like that it was better for a woman to remain single. She said it was better for her career. So she insisted that we must not live in the same place in Los Angeles. I didn't like it a little bit, but there was nothin' I could do at the time. So the first night in Los Angeles she went to the YWCA and I got a room somewhere. The next day she got a furnished apartment and began workin'.
"Well I had to get a job right away, so I looked around and took the first thing I could find --- a job with the Prudential Life Insurance Company as a contact man. I worked for a man who was an insurance broker, y'know. My wife was makin' thirty-five dollars a week and I was makin' twenty-five [?] dollars a week and commissions.
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"The only way I could see my wife was to go callin' on her like a sweetheart and set about her apartment at night and tryin' to get her, you might say, to perform her duty as a wife. She was a very cold woman, though, and had no apparent desire for sex. I realize now that she'd just been caterin' to my desire when she had indulged formerly. Well I didn't like it at all. Here she was my wive and I wasn't gettin' anything out of it at all. We'd fuss all the time and that kept me upset and then I wasn't gettin' any relief and that didn't help any. I kept after her and finally I persuaded her, you might say, to let me move in with her. So I did, but we didn't get along so well because of those ideas of hers. She still didn't want to give in, and she wanted twin beds and all that sort of thing. I didn't like that; I believe a man and his wife should sleep in the same bed. But she wouldn't have it, and she wouldn't have any sex either. The truth was she was afraid she'd get pregnant and it'd hurt her business. She didn't want to spoil her figure either. She didn't know anything about birth control and I didn't either at the time. Well things got worse and worse and we was scrappin' all the time and finally we had a break-up.
"She moved downstairs in the same buildin' --- got another apartment --- and I stayed upstairs. It was bad. Because of my religious trainin' I felt that I shouldn't step out on her... shouldn't go out with other women to satisfy myself. Even if she wouldn't be a wife to me I felt I couldn't go back on my vows I'd made in church. Well I couldn't satisfy myself and I'd nearly go crazy. Some nights I'd just go out of my head and I'd go downstairs and beat on her door beggin' her to let me in. One night I just had to break her door right in and we had a big fight. I don't mean I exactly beat her up --- I was just wild -- and you might say I raped my own wife; just took it away from her.
Page 20
"Unluckily, shortly after that night, she [?] she was pregnant. Well there was nothin' for it but to have it out, so she took fifty dollars I gave her and went to a doctor and had -- what do you call it? --- yeah, an abortion. From that time things grew worse and worse and I finally decided we couldn't live together. So I divorced her and came back [?], to LaPlant.
"My father was still workin' in the mill. While I was gone my next oldest brother had become afflicted with some sort of rheumatism that paralysed his arms and legs. But he always had a good mind and so he and my mother had opened up a small store there in LaPlant. She did the work and he managed the business end. Between my father's salary and the income from the store they were livin' comfortably. The family, is the meantime, had increased to one sister and five brothers.
"Well I got a job as a reporter on a newspaper. In fact, you might say I was a reporter, business manager, editor, and everything else. I forgot to tell you that I'd done some reportin' in Eastland and had had some experience. The paper was started by a couple of friends of mine. We had it printed over at [?] Springs, but there was no money in it. It went broke.
"After that I got a job soliciting for a dry-cleanin' company. I made good money at that. In the meantime I'd met another girl --- my present wife. We married shortly thereafter. She worked in a factory there. I just forgot the other woman entirely.
"Oh she was born in south Alabama on a farm. She went through the sixth grade. Her father was a tenant farmer like mine had been. He died when she was fourteen years old. Then her mother had decided they could do better if they moved to town. They had relatives in Phoenix, so they moved there --- she and her mother and an older brother. Both of them, her and her brother, worked in a factory. But her mother died in a year and then she went to LaPlant to live and that's
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how I met her. See, her mother had a sister in LaPlant and she came down to Phoenix to see about the funeral and she brought her and her brother back with her because they were so young and there was nobody to look after them.
"When I married her she was nineteen, and our first baby, a girl, was born in the shortest period of time which could elapse between marriage and havin' a child. We were married in January and she was born in October.
"Well in two years we went to Phoenix to live. The depression drove us out of the dry-cleanin' business. No commissions any more. I thought I could do better in Phoenix but the only job I could find was back in the mill. I had to learn the job on my own time. I was a battery-filler. I'd wind the thread on the battery before it went to the automatic loom. I made seven dollars and fifteen cents a week.
"We lived in a furnished room, the three of us; cooked, ate, and slept in it. Soon I left the mill and went into the insurance business. I'd already done some of it is Los Angeles, y'know. I built up a debit and averaged fifteen dollars a week. Well pretty soon the company cut my commission, so I quit 'em.
"Then I went back to the mill, in the weave room as a cloth doffer. I stayed in the mill three years off and on. It was during this time our second girl was born. This was three and a half years after the first one. I'd learned somethin' about birth control, y'see.
"Well in the meantime I'd joined a labor union. It was the United Textile Workers of America. Yeah, A. [f.?] of L. I was very active in the union work. I'd never thought much about unions before, but I took right to it. I did a lot of studyin', readin' and [speech-ankin'?]. And I held offices.
"Somehow the management found out about it --- I hadn't been keepin' it any secret --- and the superintendent called me in the office one day and began
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tellin' me how much they thought about me, and he said if I'd give up the union why they'd find me a better job. And they did. They gave me a timekeeper's job and I wore my best suit and white collar on the job. But I didn't promise nothin', see?
"Well I held the job all right; I could do the work, but I didn't give up my union activities. So they demoted me back to a 'learner-weaver'. It was just about that time a union supervisor asked me if I'd take a trip with him for two weeks. He'd heard I was a good driver and he wanted me to drive him around the country. He'd pay the expenses. Well there wasn't much I hadn't learned about a car on that trip to California, so I went to the boss and asked him to let me off for two weeks. I didn't tell 'em for what purpose, y'understand, I just made up some excuse, I don't know what.
"Well they let me off and I went with the organizer. We went through Alabama, me makin' speeches with him. He always introduced me as a official of the union, but the truth was I wasn't holdin' any office just then. We organized several towns and then we came back to Phoenix.
"As soon as I reported at the mill the overseer [?] me. They'd heard about what I'd done and he said I didn't need the job because they understood I had another one. Bein' sarcastic, y'know. Well I got mad and I cursed him. I told 'em they couldn't starve me to death and [?-?] 'em sometime I'd get even with 'em. Losin' that job didn't matter so much, but the blackballed me from all the other mills. I'd get all kinds of promises for jobs because I was known as a good worker. I'd fill in applications, y'know, and they'd say they were pretty sure they'd put me to work in a day or two, and then when I'd come back they'd tell me they didn't need me.
"Well there was nothin' to do but apply for relief. I did, and finally got a job on the WPA. Worked on a labor project; dug ditches, rolled wheelbarrows,
Page 23
and things like that. I did all sorts of temporary jobs between the WPA work. One time I manufactured my own roach killer and peddled it from house to house. And I kept up my union activities. I became secretary of an Unemployed Workers' Union. Yeah, it was a WPA union.
"Oh! I forgot to tell you about the strike at the mills in 1934 and how I got jailed. I was walkin' down the street one day and I had a pair of spy-glasses with me. Well I looked through 'em and over on a hill about a mile away and saw a group of men standin' around on a road. Well I thought there'd been an accident, as I walked on over there and found out they were armed with clubs and all sorts of weapons. They said they were gonna beat up some Negroes who 'are scabbin' on the job. They told me to take my glasses and look down the road for the trucks which were bringin' the Negroes to the mill. Well I watched for the trucks and pretty soon I saw 'em comin' 'way off, y'know. But the trucks didn't only have niggers in 'em but they were loaded down with soldiers too --- the national guard.
"Well I told the men what I saw comin' and they all dispersed --- ran away. But I stayed there. I didn't see why I should run' I hadn't done nothin'. Well the trucks came on up the road and when the soldiers saw me with the glasses they jumped out and arrested me. They put me in jail and I stayed there eight days. They put me in a filthy old cell. It was just about six feet long and not that wide, and the cot had a dirty old mat on it so full of bugs that I had to sleep on the floor. The jail was owned by the mill. You see, the mills just run the whole town and they could do what they liked.
"For a couple of days my wife and children didn't know where I was. But about the third day some of the soldiers went over to see my wife and told her they'd jailed me. They tried to pump her, but they didn't get anything out of 'er. There wasn't anything she could tell 'em anyway; I hadn't done nothin'.
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"Well they kept me shut up there and asked me a lot of questions. They didn't do nothin' to me except to threaten me. They told me they'd heard a lot about me and the things I'd been doin' in the union. I wish I'd done half as much as they said I did. They told me if I didn't lay low and stop my union activities, they'd put me away for good. Then they let me go. "As soon as I got out I went right down and got a job on the picket line picketin' the mill. I worked three months picketin' and got two dollars a day. Sometimes forty-five cents an hour.
"After that I did all sorts of odd jobs and worked on the WPA again. Then I heard about the worker's Education Program. I'd already organized a class of workers on my own --- I didn't know there was any such thing as a workers' Education Program. Well I told the WPA office I was interested in that kind of work, so when the supervisor came down from Atlanta she said she'd take me on the program. I didn't tell her much about my past, not that I had anything to hide, but people act so funny if they know you're for the worker. She was a [chargin'?] lady and she was very careful to tell me that I wasn't to do any organisin' or anything like that. She said my job was to teach, just that and nothin' more. If the workers wanted ne to tell 'em about unions then it was all right, but I wasn't supposed to encourage 'em or discourage 'em about the unions. I figured it out that what she meant was that if the workers were gonna organize they were gonna organize and there was nothin' we could do about it except to try to educate them so they wouldn't run wild once they got some power.
"I was assigned to the program in a few days and told to report to Atlanta. I got here on March 15, [1936?]. In the meantime my wife had had another baby --- a boy. I took a trainin' course here in Atlanta in the subjects I was to teach and then went back to Phoenix. I started classes with the textile workers and plunged into a lot of readin' and studyin'. I'd read some of those things in
Page 25
the past of course. I'd read Robinson's "Mind in the Making" and things like that. I'd also read "Merchants of [Death?]". I was always particularly interested in the [ditions?] manufacturers. In fact I'd done some [columnizings?] on these subjects in a Phoenix newspaper. I'd read "The [Robber Barrons?"], a history of John D. Rockefeller and the [Asters?] and other financiers. So to be paid for doin' the sort of thing I'd always wanted to do anyway was wonderful.
"I've always had an ambition to save the world. Maybe it's a --- what do you call it? --- yeah, a [?] complex. My real ambition is to be a writer and show people what's right. Give 'em truth, Oh I'd write on any subject; anything to teach the people why we're here, the purpose of life. As to what I actually will do in life --- call, brother who knows?
"Shy tomorrow I say [by?] myself
With Several thousand yesteryears."
"My philosophy now might be:
"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and them
Beside me in the wilderness;
O wilderness were paradise once!"
"I'm interested in poetry. I particularly like [Omar?] {Khayyan?]. I tried to write some poetry once; had some published in newspapers. Sent some to the New [Images?], but they sent it back. It must have been punk. But I like those kind of publications; they tell the truth and that's what people read.
"That's the trouble with schools and universities today. They don't teach the truth. They're run with the idea of maintaining the "status quo" --- maintaining the capitalistic system. Of course I'm not sayin' that the capitalistic system shouldn't be maintained, but it should be maintained with a more equitable distribution of wealth. Oh yes, in spite of that I want my children to be educated all they can; at least up to the extent that they'll know what's goin' on in the world. I want 'em to see what's underneath and behind our social
Page 26
system so they won't be [fooled?]. I hope they can go through college, but I don't know. Don't see any way for it now. I know they can't get what they need in college but I'll tell 'em the real inside dope myself. You need a college degree to get on the WPA now. Sure you do. It's a [?] dirty shame but that's the way the world is. I've been interviewed by social workers that haven't had sense enough to get out of a shower of rain. They haven't got any real feelin's, but because they've got a college education they give 'em the jobs. I wish they had to get out and deal with those workers' classes; they wouldn't get to first base. It'd learn 'em.
"Not on your life, brother, I don't want any more children. There's five of us now havin' to live off of eighteen dollars a week. We don't have anything; no furniture, no car, nothin'. All five of us eat, sleep, and do everything else in one room. I'm 'way in debt. Owe one hundred dollars and don't know how I'll pay it. Doctor's and grocery bill. When any of us have to go to the hospital it's just straight charity. We had the baby in the hospital just a little while back. He had an infection from an injury to his shin which came about from havin' to live in a tenement. It all goes back to this rotten social system. Well maybe they don't call 'em [tenements?] here in Atlanta but if landlords thought more about fixin' up their places instead of makin' all the money they could out of 'em that porch would had banisters and he wouldn't have fallen off. Yeah, the second story. My wife's always sick. She needs to be diagnosed for various things now. We all need dental care becasue of lack of proper diet. Especially the children, becasue my wife didn't have the proper kind of food to provide calcium for them while she was pregnant. I've made a special study of diet and I know what kinds of food we oughta have but I can't afford
Page 27
it. No, I'm seldom sick myself. Last time I was in the hospital was in 1934, when I got drunk and wrecked a car.
"I figure I need exactly two hundred dollars a month to live on. Every bit of it. Anybody with a family does. that's why I'm for the union. I don't care if people do say they're always belly-[?]' and wantin' more. Sure they want more, why shouldn't they? Everybody in the world should have two hundred dollars a month, especially men with families. Is it right for me to try to live on eighteen dollars a week when I know that eighty percent of the wealth of this country is controlled by five percent of the people. Is that fair? Tell, me!
"And that brings up another thing. Do you know I've never voted in my life, never been able to exercise my right as a citizen because of the [poll?] tax? I've had to eat and sleep and I can't pay a poll tax, can't have a voice in my own government. You quote me as sayin' I'm very interested in some [?] to remove the poll tax. Sure I'm for this administration. I'm with Roosevelt right up to the hilt. I don't know whether Roosevelt'll have a third term or not, but if he doesn't ... God help this country! I'm dealin' with the workers every day and I know what they say. They've got more from this administration than ever before and they're not gonna stand for anybody takin' it away from 'em.
"Religion? I'm not sure what I think along that line any more. I know religion doesn't influence my morals. I'm moral for moralities make ...... because of the effect it might have on me physically and mentally to indulge my lower desires. I think the average church is just a racket. They don't really give the people anything. Understand, I don't mean I'd do away with the churches. But I don't have anything to do with 'em. I've found my own philosophy. It may change every day, but I'm findin' it. I've just come to the conclusion that most churches are not interested in humanity for humanity's
Page 28
sake. I might go for the sake of [contacts?], but there again I'm not financially able to dress as I should, so I don't go.
"No, we don't do anything in the way of recreation. We can't afford to on eighteen dollars a week. We listen to an old piece of a radio I've got. I especially like to hear [??] dissertation on [?], and I like Gilbert and Sullivan. Never go to a movie. I read a lot, especially poetry.
"Well, I'm beginnin' to rumble now. I guess you've got all the story you want. Anyway, that's all there is of it. Come back in another year and maybe I'll have added somethin' excitin' to it.
"By the way, I want a copy of whatever you're goin' to write. I'd like to have it for my children to ready to read some day. Let me know when it's published, hear?
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 49 of 73
[Mrs. Brown]
Mrs. Joe P. [(Carrie?)] [Stroh?],
114 Parker Street, [?]
[Atlanta?], Georgia.
The apartment was next to the last in the brick building, one of a series of duplex units which extended up the hill like a huge set of children's playblocks, aligned closely together but on varying levels. I rang the bell and, while waiting, looked back over similar groups of buildings spread out in the hollow [?] up the far hill. This was the [?] Housing Development, a government slum-clearance project of twenty-two buildings constructed on the same number of acres. They are severely plain in their square simplicity and are separated by wide expanses of lawns and broad streets. There are but few trees and little shrubbery, and the buildings rises with bare abruptness from the ground, as though they had suddenly mushroomed into growth and had not yet been gathered about them those elements of greenery indicating a decision to stay.
Yet, viewed with a visionary eye, the potential beauty of the development is evident. When the trees become larger, the shrubbery more luxurious, the buildings will appear more settled and the area will assume an air of more stability and charm.
Mrs. Brown opened the door and I explained the nature of my call, apologizing for interfering with her early morning housekeeping. She was most gracious. "Oh that's all right. You come on in. I haven't done much cleanin' this mornin' anyway.... just doin' my curtains. You come on in. The house is a mess."
And indeed the living room was. While getting settled and speaking of generalities I looked around. All but the most stable pieces of furniture seemed to have rushed away from the walls, collided in the middle of the room and bounced halfway back, coming to a [?] at the most inconvenient and inartistic angles. This [?] state of things we attributed largely to two children she were wrestling on the floor. The left side of the room was dominated by a stairway leading up to the second floor. The walls were of
Page 2
rough-finished white plaster and bore only three pictures, one of a dog [baying dolefully?] over the body of another fallen in the snow, and the two other small views of an identical scene showing [?] summer and winter landscapes. There was a nice studio couch in the far corner, on of its pillows askew, the other two on the floor serving as temporary wrestling mats for the children. There were two matching chairs and the ensemble was covered with a rust-colored [rug?] which appeared to be quite new.
"I just re-covered them myself", said Mrs. Brown, "... that is, me and a friend." [A?] floor model radio stood just to the right of the door. On top of it was a world globe, with dark blue [oceans?] and dull gray continents, mounted on a clock base. "Yes, it is nice, isn't it?
[Bill?] --- that's my husband --- [won?] it on a punchboard. The clock part [works?] all right too, but I never wind it 'cause it ticks so loud.
Now don't think Bill throws much money away on things like that, 'cuse he don't; but ever once in a while he'll take a chance on some fool thing.
When I think about [them?] people who [?] all that money on the Sweep [Stakes?] like I saw in the news real....."
Her voice trailed off speculatively, giving me a chance to raise my eyes from my note-pad and really study her. She was not a pretty woman and I was seeing her probably at her worst, but she was very pleasant and had a warm smile. I realized that if she but had more time and money to devote to personal grooming she could present a pausably fair appearance. Now, however, she merely slumped in a chair, somewhat worn from her morning activities. Her red-gold hair, really of fine texture, was straight except for the ends which held the frizzly remains of a [narrow-wave?] permanent, and straggled uncombed about her face. Her features were irregular, the face quite broad, yet with high cheek bones and [?] contours which tapered to an almost pointed chin. [A?] peculiar fullness of the eyelids produced the illusion
Page 3
of a [slant?] which made her appear just a bit oriental despite her [?] blondness. The fullness of her lips suggested a voluptuousness which was further implied by the plumpness of her body. [When?] she laughed, which she often did through embarrassment rather than humor, she instinctively covered her mouth with her hand, a pathetic gesture which unfailingly attracted one's attention to the broken tooth she was trying to hide.
She was wearing a cheap yellow cotton print, much too tight and badly torn. The neck and sleeves were trimmed with narrow lace, so frayed as to appear cobwebby. A white cotton slip hung several inches below her dress and she was continually pulling both garments down in an effort to cover as much as possible of her bare legs. Her feet were thrust into shapeless blue slippers, the upper part of which had torn away form the soles, revealing her stubby toes.
The children had kept up a constant [din?]. For some time they had been trying violently to beat one another's brains out with folded magazines. [These?] had been sent slithering across the floor and they were [now?] engaged in a desperate tug of war with a remnant of an old sheet serving as a rope. Their mother had made several ineffectual attempts to quiet them, but they ignored her completely and their continued yells and squalls made any serious attempt toward interviewing extremely difficult. This being so, I decided to discuss the children, [as?] they were the only possible subject under the circumstances. The result was magical. As soon as their names were mentioned they declared a truce. They set there gasping and sniffling and regarding me with great [?] eyes. The little boy achieved an added not of preoccupied [solemnity?] by the simple process of picking his nose, just as an old scholar seems [?] profoundly involved in his studies when unconsciously scratching his head. "They both been sick, Mrs. Brown was saying. "They vomited all
Page 4
all over the house this morning. I don't know what was the matter with 'em." Then she added naively, "Unless it was them rotten apples I gave 'em.
"That's Cecilia", said Mrs. Brown, indicating the little girl. She's two years old." Cecilia took this as her [cue?] t climb upon her mother's lap whereupon Mrs. Brown redoubled her efforts to keep her skirts down. "And that's John. He's four." John was no less prompt to act, climbing up with all the assurance of masculine superiority and sitting squarely upon his sister, from which perch he evidenced every intention of continuing his calm study of me. But it was not to be. Cecilia emitted an immediate shrill and piercing shriek of displeasure, and the two engaged in a violent struggle for supremacy. Mrs. Brown was seemingly unconcerned at the struggle taking place in her lap. True, she attempted to calm the children, but her commands were almost apologetic, as though she feared to offend them. Her only action was to free herself of John's legs, which he had locked about her neck. Thus anchored he had swung in [lavalier-fashion?] down his mother's bosom and, with wildly flailing arms, was pummeling his sister who had managed to sit upon his face. Ducking a flying fist or foot, Mrs. Brown went on talking, easily enough.
"They fight all the time. Just all the time." Her voice rose to a sustained falsetto on the last word and she held it, not in [?], but as though she had made a singularly amazing discovery. "I don't believe all children do this way but they do. Now Theresa's just as different. She's as quiet. Sometimes I tel Bill she's like an old lady. She's six years old and goes to [parcenial?] school. I wish you could see her.
"No, I'm not Catholic, but Bill is. I'm a Baptist, but we don't have no trouble about that. [We?] was married by a priest, you know.
A Catholic won't marry unless a priest does it. Bill's very devout. We been married seven years and he's never missed church yet. He gives somethin' ever Sunday;
Page 5
maybe jest twenty-five or fifty cents ... but he always puts somethin' in. It don't sound like a lot, but twenty-five cents it to us what a hundred dollars would be to some rich people. [Theresa?] never missed church neither. She goes ever Sunday. You know, she puts a penny in the box ever day at school and they give her a gold star. She's that proud of 'em too. I try to get the others to Sunday School as often as I can, but I can't always make it. I had to sign a paper when I married Bill saying if there was any children they'd be raised Catholic.
"Absolutely not. I don't want no more children. I love 'em all right, but we jest can't afford no more of 'em. I been married seven years and had three children and never had a maid. Done all my [washin'?] and everything. I think I done my share. And we had a hard enough time as it is.
"Yes, we married here. I was born in Cobb County, but Bill comes from Dakota ... South Dakota. He's been in Atlanta --- Oh, I don't know exactly how many years ... eight or nine I guess. He went through high school in Dakota and then took one correspondence course in law. And then a friend taught him law too ... jest taught him free. And then he and this man went into practicing. That was here in Atlanta jest before I married him. He come to Atlanta because Georgia is the easiest state in the Union to pass the bar. Well they practiced about eighteen months.
Didn't make much money. Worked mostly for niggers. Sometimes they paid him in chickens; that was all they had. Then he went to work on [?] Lane ... you know, down there at the produce houses. His job was truckin'. He'd go all over Georgia. He, never out of the State. It was hard on him. He'd have to go out in the winter time and he'd have to sleep in the woods along 'side the road sometimes. It's be so cold he'd have to hand blankets around to keep off the wind, y'know. After that... oh no, I forgot to tell you. It didn't exactly fall through.
Page 6
You see, Bill had [??] the money, and him and a partner was runnin' the business. [Well?] one night when he was at home here -- I don't mean here in this place, but here in Atlanta --- the man stole the truck and all the money and ran off. It was the meanest trick I ever heard of.
["Well after?] that he got himself jest a wholesale stand down there, no truckin' or nothin'. [We?] bottled [morgham?] syrup; I helped him. And one funny thing -- would you believe it? -- in the winter time that old house we lived in got so cold the syrup wouldn't run. Jest wouldn't run at all -- froze stiff -- and [I had?] to heat it over the stove to make it pour. [?] it did. Naw, he didn't make any money. Jest made a livin', if you could call it that. Well then he got a job sellin' correspondence courses, y'know. Oh I forgot what the company was, ['I.C.'?] or somethin' like that. But that [was?] in 1930, you know, and nobody had any money for that kind of thing then. When the company closed the office he tried to get on the [?]. Well he got some kind of a job on it, I don't know jest what now, but it only paid eight dollars a week. But we saved two dollars of it ever week. I don't know how we did it, but we did. John was on the way then and we had to save somethin'. After a little while he was raised to fifteen dollars a wee. [?] then he [got?] on the [Writers'?] Project. I think he mad seventy-five dollars a month there -- somethin' like that. And then after workin' there all day he'd go back to the library at night and work for three more hours. [They?] paid him nineteen dollars a month for that. Lord, we thought we as settin' pretty then, after all we'd been through. Well the people at the library took a interest in him and they got him a full time job makin' ninety dollars a month. That's the [way?] people are with Bill. They [always?] want to help him. He's got a nice personality, lots more so than I have. [Well?], as I say, he went to work full time for them, but pretty soon the
Page 7
the city started cuttin' salaries. They kept cuttin' and cuttin' and finally he wasn't gettin' but sixty-five dollars. Then he went to work for the oil company. Yes, that's where he's workin' now -- the Paramount Oil Company. One of the librarians got him that job too.
"Well, I can't say exactly how much he makes 'cause he works on a commission, y'know. You might say he's a travellin' salesman. And he has to pay his own expenses -- hotels, meals, gas and oil, and the upkeep on the car. No, he has to furnish his own car. He's got a brand new [38'?] Ford. We did have a brand new '37 Ford, but he wrecked it. It wasn't his fault. We finished payin' for it out of the insurance money, y'know, and what was left over we put on the new car. No, it ain't ours yet, we're still payin' for it. It was sure bad. He'd almost paid up for the '37 one and would of been free now. It was so hopeful. We don't like to be in debt, and then somethin' like that has to go and happen. He could tell you more about all this than I could, but he only gets in town for the weekends. He sells to the farmers and those little fillin' stations along the road. Yes, and he also sell grease and oil to the furniture companies for their machinery and stuff. The county buys grease from him too, for their tractors.
"But let me see -- you ast me about how much he made, didn't you? Well, as I say, it's different ever week. He never knows what it's gonna be till he goet his pay. But he gives me nineteen dollars regular ever week and then he gives me fifteen dollars extra ever month. I shore do have to stretch that nineteen dollars, I tell you I do. The children always need new shoes, jest one pair after another. Yes sir, it takes it all. Our rent's thirty-four fifty-five a month. Well, it includes lights and water and heat. That is, it's supposed to; but I have to pay a dollar-and-a-half extra on the lights ever month. They say it's somethin' about us using' more kilowatts then we're allowed to, I don't know exactly what.
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"My mother lives here with us too. She works in a laundry. She's a sorter -- sorts the clothes, y'know. She boards -- pays four dollars a week. It sounds like a lot when I name it all separate that-away, but it ain't much when I come to spend it. We jest make out, I'd say.
We don't have nothin' nice, but we have what things we have to have. I jest do the best I can. I tell you, I've learned to stretch a penny if anybody has. Grocery bill? Well I try to hold it down to a dollar a day, but I can't always. You're always runnin' out of lard or sugar or somethin' that ain't separate eatin' food. We may not have good food, but we have lots of it as they say. I do try to give the children a well-balanced diet ... lots of vegetables. I can't get 'em all the milk they need though."
All during the interview the children, back on the floor, had constantly interrupted with cried of ["Mama?], I want a egg." It had begun as a plea from the little girl, but it was quickly taken up by the boy and converted into a command. At first they had mad their demands in alternate turn, but they had now evolved a sort of gave out of it whereby they chanted in unison, each trying to outshout the other. The boy in particular was achieving some spectacular vocal effects, not unlike variations on the theme. First he would start high on the "Mama" and slide his voice down skillfully, but in undiminishing volume, to a low not on the "egg". Then he would reverse the process, starting with a low "Mama" and rising with the shrill shriek of a siren to a high "egg". His sister, never lessening her own efforts, regarded him with frank admiration. "Mama" dismissed the situation with an occasional and indulgent "Now, now, John" or "Be nice, Cecilia." Not until John, finally spurred to desperate action, socked her on the legs several times with a determined fist did she bestir herself.
I asked if we might go along to the kitchen with her and thereby see more of the apartment. We went into the dining room. The furniture was inexpensive,
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but fairly nice. [?] one corner was a large white kitchen cabinet which reflected the sunlight streaming in the two windows and brightened the entire room with its glare. In the opposite corner was a sewing machine. "Nobody uses it", said Mrs. Brown. "Bill bought it and wanted me to learn to sew, but I'm too nervous. I jest [nearly?] go to pieces when I sit down and try to sew somethin' I don't even sew up holes in my dresses; jest let 'em rip until ..." She dismissed the subject with a shrug of her shoulders, leaving us to carry the inference as far as we liked. We thought to remind her of the [couch and ?] covers she'd made. "Oh well", she said, "that was big stuff and it didn't make me nervous.
I can do big things like that."
The children had proceeded us into the kitchen and, perhaps feeling that the desired eggs were in the offing, had ceased to plague us.
Through the doorway I could see John amusing himself by attempting to squirt water, thumb-step fashion from the sink faucet, over his sister.
From her almost hysterical laughter I judged that because of some perverseness this displeased her not at all. Mrs. Brown sat on one corner of the drop-leaf breakfast table and went on talking. "I tell everbody I made one thing, though, but I really didn't. That's a tailored suit I got. I got a man's suit from a friend of Bill's - he jest gave it to me - and me and a friend of mind made me a suit out of it. She really did most of the work, but I'm so proud of it. I jest feel like 'Mrs. Astorbilt' when I wear it."
Her face brightened almost pathetically and I realized how big an event this new made-over garment was in her life. For a moment she became the personification of all the lower economic classes, leading obscure [?] and being pitifully grateful for small things. She had seen object poverty and would probably see other equally troublous times, but I felt that she would never admit defeat, would always manage to fight her way back up to a
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measure of security. She gave me, however, little time for such heroic visualizings. Now on a subject dear to every woman's heart, she [??] on rapidly, her voice alternately maddening with just a trace of understandable self-pity and rising enthusiastically on more hopeful theme.
"I don't hardly never go nowhere. Its not because I don't want to, but I jest never have anything to wear. You may not believe it, but I don't go out but two times a week. On Sunday afternoon I go the show with Bill and on Monday night me and a friend go to the bowling alley.
We don't play none, me and her, we jest sit and watch 'em. It don't cost nothin'. I like to [?], but Bill don't. That's always been a bone of contention between us. But even if he did I couldn't [?], because like I said I never had nothin' to wear. And then I can't get a way from the children. No, my mother jest won't keep 'em she gets awful nervous. No matter if I jest go across the street she starts [swellin'?] up and I have to come back. She's with the children like I am about sewin' -- jest goes all to pieces.
"If we could save some money I could get to goin' out more. But we ain't savin' a thing now. But we don't owe nothin' neither, except on the car like I told you. Our furniture's all paid for. I get a perfect horror about owing money. I jest can't stand to owe somebody somethin'. That's the way it was about the doctor. I'd been goin' to the doctor but I stopped. We didn't have the money to spare and I told Bill I'd jest as well be dead as to be starvin' to death, and like I said I wasn't gonna owe him nothin'. If I need any treatin' now I go to the [??]. Yes, all three of the children were born at Hardy. That's one thing I certainly do believe in."
[She?] sat for a few minutes with a far away meditative look in her eyes and then abruptly changed the subject. "Look here at my new curtain-[?].
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I'm so thrilled over 'em." It had indeed been impossible not to look at the contraption, for, leaning against the door jamb between the living and dining room, it projected about five feet of its length into each. Two pairs of dotted marqinette curtains were stretched [?] over the frame. "My curtains would get all out of shape ever time I washed 'em and ironed 'em, but they come out jest perfect now."
We went on into the kitchen. It was small, but bright and clean. Even the water which John had sprayed over the floor seemed but to have lest added freshness. All the fixture and furnishings were a glistening white: the four-doored groceries cabinets above the sink, the floor cabinets for pots and pans, and the smart electric stove,. The walls were a smooth [?] white, making the room seem larger than it actually was.
"I wash 'em myself", said Mrs. Brown. "They say you can do the other walls that way, but you can't."
There was only one touch of [?] in the kitchen, but it was a brilliant one: the gay red-checkered curtains at the small windows. Mrs.
Brown grabbed my arm enthusiastically. "Oh! I did make these. That's one thing I made by myself." She drew back suddenly as if embarrassed at the unintentional familiarity, but went on talking. "I sat up one night till one o'clock finishin' 'em. I jest couldn't wait, I wanted to see so bad what they'd look like."
While she shelled the children's eggs which had been boiled earlier in the morning I stepped out the back door into the tiny yard. It was an attractive little fenced-in plot, still thickly carpeted in grass although it was late November. A gravel walk-way led to the gate opening on an alley from which, along the left edge of the yard, a row of late-blooming [?] and pinks run back to the building. On each side and across the alley were other yards, equally attractive and varying only slightly in size.
Back in the apartment, Mrs. Brown took me upstairs. Three doors opened here off the tiny hallway. At the back was a compact little bathroom. The
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tub looked ridiculously small. "But you can spread out in it", said Mrs. Brown. The walls were of a tile [?], the upper part being smooth white plaster similar to that in the kitchen. At a right angle to, and immediately adjoining, the bathroom was the mother's room which was also shared by Theresa. It, too, was small, and the few furnishings, bed, wardrobe, bureau and chair, left but little room for movement. "I have to pull the bed away from the wall to make it up", Mrs. Brown explained. The sun shone brightly in the two windows and everything was scrupulously alone. There were no pictures or other ornaments on the white walls, a happy circumstances which gave the room an illusion of spaciousness where space was lacking.
But what the room lacked generally in color and ornament of small detail was more than offset by an amazing floor-lamp standing by the back window. It was of the [?] possible taste and appeared to have been won -- in parts -- from several county fairs. The shade was quite startling, a huge canopy of pale green silk stretched tightly in three tiers over a wire frame, and ornamented with several large roses and as inexplicable cottage [?] in thick slabs of a peculiar opaque paint. Added horror was applied in the form of a five-inch fringe of red, yellow, and green beads which rose and dipped in conformity with the scalloped edges of the shade. All this burst like an appalling [?] from a disporportionately thin nickel-plated stand which, about a foot from the top, developed ambitions of its own and bulged to accommodate a whirring electric clock inset in the stand. For another foot or so it shrunk to its normal size, but here a final splurge was made in an effort to balance the ever-bearing top by the attachment of an 18-inch metal shelf, completely outfitted to accommodate the contented smoker with two depressed ashtrays, a pipe-holder, a cigarette box, and a chunky black-enameled lighter. After this the flare of the base [?] but an anticlimax. The effect
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of the whole was a monstrous combination of the worst in oriental and surrealistic art. "That's Mama's prize [?]", said Mrs. Brown in [?] which implied she shared the sentiment. "...she wouldn't part with it for anything."
We went to the front bedroom. "This is Bill's and mine's room ... when he's in town. The suite of furniture was quite nice, consisting of a large double bed, a highboy, and a bureau with small drawers [?] in its top. It was all finished in a rich burnished walnut. There was a cedar chest flush against the foot of the bed and to the right of its head stood a [?] floor-model radio. "It looks like we got all sorts of money to spend", said Mrs. Brown, "but that radio was a payment for a boy who owed Bill some money. He couldn't pay it and so he asked Bill if he'd take the radio, and he said he would. It's like when the niggers would pay him in chickens." In two corners of the room were white-enameled baby beds. Obviously the four of them slept in the one room, and yet there was no element of squaler, for it was a large room and bright, and its neatness attested to the thoroughness of Mrs. Brown's housekeeping. "This furniture's mine", she was saying. "My father bought it for me before I was married. Daddy used to have plenty of money before natural gas came in. He was a foreman, you know, down at the gas plant and he made good money until they started piping in the natural gas from somewhere. He was my real father I'm talkin' about. Yes see, my mother's been married again. Her name ain't the same as mine was before I married. She's divorced now, though. But I want twin beds', she went on, with no [?] lapse between unrelated subjects. "I tell Bill I hope we [?] get 'em sometime soon. It's all right sleepin' together in the winter time, but in the summer --- oof! --- it's too hot!"
I felt I had taken enough of Mrs. Browns' time, so, back in the living room, I piled her hurriedly with a few last-minute questions.
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"I'm jest twenty-five. Bill's only thirty. We've had a whole life time of trouble though. Mama's forty-one, but she looks almost as young as I do. No, I didn't got as far though school as Bill did, I only went as far as junior high. Bill [?] to take some sort of college training some day; he's got a keen mind. [Ye-e-s?], sir --- I want the children to have all the education they can get; jest as far as they can go, 'cause I didn't. No, I don't know anything about my people, except my grandfather, and he was the meanest old man that ever lived. After all, I'm daddy's child, I always say, and [??] left him and everthing we jest don't talk about 'em any. And I can't tell you a thing about Bill's people. Nothin' that would matter anyhow.
"Naw, I don't care nothin' about politics, not a thing. "Course I think Mr. Roosevelt is a good president and all that, but I don't care none about it. Bill jest agrees with whoever he's with. You know he sells to the farmers, and if a farmer says he's a Republican, why Bill says he's a Republican too. But Bill'll jest have to tell you about himself. You come back some Saturday or Sunday when he's here. You'll like him and he'll talk.
"Well, goodbye. But you back, hear? You come back when I can dress up and have the house all clean and everthing. Goodbye, goodbye."
She was most gracious. Even I looked back from the sidewalk she was standing in the doorway and still saying, "Goodbye. You come back."
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 50 of 73
[Mrs. Janie Bradberry Harris]
[?] [?] [?]
February 25, 1939
Mrs. Janie Bradberry Harris (White)
Tallassee Road
Route No. 2
Athens, Georgia
WPA Project Supervisor
Sadie B. Hornsby
Mrs. Henry was sitting at her desk busy making out reports. Are you too busy to talk to me this morning? I asked her. "It all depends on what it is and how long it will take you. You know I can't take my working hours to talk personal matters. But first tell me what is is you want to Know? I told her I would like to get her life history and wanted one of a WPA Project Supervisor. "What do you want me to tell you." I asked her if I could see her at her home. "Why, yes if you have a way to get out to my house, but I live way out on Tallassee Road. I guess I can talk and work too. I am waiting for my head boss to come and since I am not so busy this rainy day I expect you had better see me now.
She is a large woman weighing about two hundred pounds, has gray hair and wears glasses. She was wearing a one-piece black dress, the skirt and sleeves were crepe and the body of the waist was cut velvet. She also wore black slippers and gray hose. and shows she is very much interested in her work.
She began, "I was raised right here in Clarke County and was the oldest of seven. There were three girls and four boys in our family. There is nothing interesting about my childhood. We played and scrapped as children will do, and when we were large enough we helped in the field if there was anything for us to do.
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I dropped corn and beans many a day and picked cotton I was a good cotton picker.
"I remember distinctly there is a big difference back when I was a child and now. My father was an overseer for a man who had a large farm. We had plenty to eat and wear. We raised everything we ate at home. My father was also a basket weaver and made some of the dantiest little baskets you ever saw. He sold lots of them, the most of his income was from selling cattle, he raised lots of them for sale.
"When my sister and I wanted a new hat or dress, we sold eggs, milk, butter, apples or anything else we could find to sell.
"We lived near Barnett Shoals and we could always dispose of any surplus supplies we couldn't use, selling things to the people who worked in the mill. I remember I had a cousin who worked in the cotton mill at Barnett Shoals, whenever I went to see her, she would save up all the tin buckets and give them to me to take home. We thought we were rich when we got them tin buckets, they were rare things for country people to have. When I was 14 years old I bought a sewing machine. I ordered it from Sears' and Roebuck, and paid for it sewing for Negroes.
"When they were building the electric plant at Barnett Shoals my sister and I used to sell buttermilk to the men working on the plant for 5� a glass. My favorite sport was horse-back riding believe it or not. You wouldn't think it true to look at me now.
"We attended Sundayschool in a country school house, the
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same building we went to school in. All my people are Baptist. I was 14 years old when I joined church at Corinth Baptist church and was baptized in Big Creek, not far from the church.
"I knew my husband all my life we were both reared in the same neighborhood and went to school together. When we married we didn't have a wedding, just came to Athens and got married at my cousin's house her husband was a preacher.
"My husband worked for the Athens Railway and Electric Company, now the Gergia Power Company. He started to work for them when he was 15 years old and was still in their service at the time of his death 11 years ago. He started working for them as a errand boy until he learned what to do, than when the plant was made built they gave him a regular job making $90 a month. When he was made plant manager he made $165 a month. My husband didn't go to war because he was operating the power plant. We had been married 11 years when he died. I have 4 children two girls and 2 boys, The oldest a boy is 17. [?]
"The day he was killed at the plant at Tallassee where we were transferred from Barnett Shoals in 1926. We had just returned from a 2 weeks vacation. The children were cross and sleepy so I told him I would give them a bath put them to bed and after I got the house in order I would go to the plant and stay with him, as I often did. He agreed to this as the boss from Atlanta was coming the next day on an inspection trip and my husband wanted everything shining for them as that was the orders his boss here had given him. I had just gotten the children in bed and was tying the sheet of soiled clothes to be sent to the
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wash woman the next day when the telephone rang and a man at the plant told me to come down quick my husband had been hurt. I ran all the way he died soon after I got there. His death was caused from a broken insulator. It probably wouldn't have killed him, but he had been watering the grass and his shoes and clothes were damp.
"After his death the company paid me $50 a month until the workman's compensation was paid, which was about three thousand and six hundred dollars. After that was paid, they gave me a job looking after the property at Tallassee until the new plant was built and they put men out there. Than I had to look out for myself. I got $25 a month a house to live in and lights and water furnished free. They let me live in the house now. That is the reason I don't move in town.
"The first year I took charge after my husband's death, and paddling my own canoe I made $85 that year selling milk, butter, chickens and eggs. I was out of work from December, 1937 until March of 1938. Did I try every where to find work I asked everyone I knew for a job. Many a day I have gone back home wondering where to try next. Finally one day I went to the Welfare Office, asked for work and they sent me to the sewing room. What a [revalation?] that was to me. That was my first job on WPA and if it wasn't for the government work I don't know what people like us would do. In this day and time you can't get office work to do or even a job as saleslady. The people employing help want young attractive people with pep and energy.
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"My work at the sewing room was very pleasent, however I didn't stay there very long before I was transfered to another project paying more. I was there from March until July. I was sent to the Housekeeping Aid Project as an Aid and in October of last year I was made Supervisor of the project. "
Someone knocked on the office door Mrs. Henry answered it: "Good morning, what can I do for you this morning? "Good morning," said the visitor. "Carson is my name I work over here at the University at the barn, I heard about your work and thought I would investigate about getting a nurse to wait on my wife and son, my wife had been sick since Christmas, now my son come down sick and I need some help. I went to the Welfare Office and they sent me to you." "Where do you live?" asked Mrs. Henry." "Over her on Ag Hill." "That is the address?" "Taint got non 'cept Ag Hill." "Well, you take this blank to the Welfare Office and they will fill it out for you and you bring it back to me then I will see what I can do for you." He left, but was back in a few minutes. "Say, lady I took this slip where you told me too. I didn't get to talk to the one you told me too as a big head lady was coming out the office, she took the paper, read it and told me to give it back to you they didn't have nothing to do with it." "All right, just give it to me and I will look after it for you, as there was a misunderstanding on the part of the person with whom you talked to. (?)
He started to leave, with the door open his hand on the door knob, he turned back and stuck his bald head through the open door.
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"Look here lady; if you want a recommendation just call Sheriff Jackson he will tell you all you want to know about me. I am a depty sheriff of this county, I have a daughter working here in town, my son has been working for the city and I have a daughter working in Atlanta, but she has got to go back today. I have been working all my life and married when I was 17 years old. This is the first time I have ever asked for help before. We need somebody right away. The bills have piled up on me so since Christmas it has got me down, and I would appreciate anything you can do for me." "Now, you must remember Mr. Carson our aids are not nurses they do practical nursing and look after the home while the mother or whoever is in charge of the home is not able to see after it." "I understand, but I need somebody bad and would like to have them today.
He left Mrs. Henry was silent a few moments: "Now, I don't see why they can't hire someone to do the work however, when a case is reported we have to investigate whether its a worthy one or not. You know this is one way I think the government is spending their money that really is worth while, of course all the projects are or they wouldn't have been created. But this one helps humanity in more ways than one. It gives us work and in doing this it helps othere who are not able to help themselves.
"We have 8 workers most of the time. Seven of them are white and we have one Negro helper. This negro is a practical nurse. She hadn't had a job in months when she was put on this project, and was only on the job a day and a half when she got outside work to do making $15 a week, she worked 2 weeks. When a person gets outside
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employment to do, which we are suppose to do, they are automatticaly dropped from the project and if by any reason they lose their job than they are taken back again after the case is thoroughly investigated.
"As I have all ready stated this project was created to help those who are not able to help themselves, and to make living conditions in the home worth while. You know yourself when you are in the dumps and everything goes wrong all we need is a friendly pat on the back to help us along, and that is the objective of WPA. We train these women on the project to go into homes where the families are not able to hire help when they are sick, to have their work done. They do practically everything there is to be done, except the family washing and heavy scrub work. Of course you know your self if you had illness in your home and no one to help you, and there were several small children you wouldn't have time for that sort of work. They clean house, cook, sew or mend if it is necessary, care for the children as well as cooking the proper food for the family and patient and they do wash the patients clothes. In fact they do everything a nurse and housekeeper does, but give medicine that is not allowed.
"Than after the mother is well again, before the Aide leaves meals are planned by the aid showing them how to cook it to get the best food value out of it. You know some people cook their food all day, in that case the food isn't fit to eat. We also teach children as well as the grown ups how to eat at the table, also how to set the table and serve a meal. As well as to keep a clean neat house. We also encourage them to be clean with themselves, however, there are people who wont do any better no
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matter how much you talk to them. After the aids leave a home, they drop in as if for a friendly chat just to see how their plans are progressing. It is remarkable to find the improvement in some homes and very discouraging to go into the home of those who don't have any pride what so ever.
"We have a group meeting of the workers in my office once a week, we get an outsider to talk to us sometimes its the head of the Red Cross here in town. She tells us how to make bandages, make beds and care for the sick. We also have our Clarke County Home Demonstration Agent to give us a talk on how to prepare food for the sick as well as for the children. How to set the table and table manners. You would be surprised how little some people know about such things. I didn't know as much as I thought I did myself about lots of things I have learned since I came on this project.
"We had a group meeting one day, presided over by our Home Demonstration Agent, talking about how to care for the home, food, setting the table and manners. One of the workers were so impressed she went home and began with the children up to her mother. Teaching them the nice ways of doing in the home. Now it's attractive as it can be considering what she has to do with in her home.
"The other night I got so mad at my oldest son, he came rushing in without washing his face and hands. He went to the table grabbed up his cup of coffee without setting down to the table. I said, 'son why don't you sit down and eat like you ought to instead of gobbling your food up like a hog.' 'Oh, mama I ain't go no time to fool with table manners hang with it, I have got to go.' And off he went now you know that won't the way for him to act.
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"One way we make money for our project, as our sponsors did not supply any for it. I made marmalade at night and the aids sold it after they got off from work. However, we didn't make a great deal it did give us a little to carry on in our project and the money needed could not be obtained. This money was used to buy provisions for demonstrations we have once a week in teaching the aids how to prepare diets for sick people. Most of our food is furnished by the commodities, but not what we use otherwise.
"We have a loan closet, most of the linen was donated by the aids, however, several organizations have given a few sheets, pillow cases and gowns. These things are loaned to the sick attended by our aids. When the patient is well again they are taken up laundred and put back in the closet. You know lots of people don't have what they need and these things have to be provided for.
"One day a case was reported, so I went to investigate it. I found a widow with two children, she and one of the children were sick in bed. There was no one to do anything for them but a man she had hanging around. She called him her boy friend. We went in that home and took the woman and child in charge. We cleaned the house washed their clothes and cook their food, the man never left. We got tired of him staying there doing nothing while we waited on him too. She didn't realize he didn't care anything for her only to eat up what she had, and a place to sleep. I put him to work cleaning yard and burning trash. So the next day I made him scrub floors, each day we gave him a different job. He soon got tired of working and left. Of course we had to get rid of him in a nice way, so she wouldn't get mad with us about it, and
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not let him know what we were up to.
"The aids wear white uniforms, and go quietly about their work in the home just like any nurse would do. It is strictly against the rules to relate anything they see and hear other than what they go to do.
"One of the most pitiful cases we have on record, is blind woman who lives alone, and as far as we could learn has no relatives living in town or any other place. The house was very good, but the interior was terrible to see. This case was reported to us, so one day one of the aids went to the house, and found her in bed sick. She did not have any food in the house and hand't had anything to eat in several days. The aid went in and did everything that was necessary. She has been on the case two weeks. Every day before, she leaves the aid brings in wood to make a fire, coal and put it in reach so if she should have to get up in the night she wouldn't hurt herself or take cold going out for it. She also places her food and water on a table by the bed. The doctor told us this one case was worth all the money alone spent in the county from this project.
"There was an old woman who didn't have anyone but two boys to wait on her. They didn't even have a change of sheets nor the proper clothes. So we got clothing and food for them, as well as to care for her a long time. We went back to that home to see how they were getting on and you wouldn't know it there was such a change At first the yard was littered with everything under the sun. When we went back the yard and house was as neat and clean as could be. There was clean cover on the beds, a clean cloth on the eating table and a flower pot in the center of it. Things like that makes us
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that makes us think know our work is worth while. Our work is very interesting, but since our project is not such an old one I believe I have told you all of any importance. I have heard of people in other places having doors slammed in their face, water thrown on them as well as being cursed out, but that has never happened to us. People we have dealt with are only too glad to have us go into their homes and help them."
Her son came in: "Mama we will have to get a new cross member for that car." "Well, I can't get it fixed today." "Yes, you can and I have to have a new wheel too. It shimmies so I can't hold it in the road." Well, you ought not have run in the ditch and broke it." You know I couldn't help it the road was slick. The garage man said he will sell me a wheel cheap." I reckon he will, but I need to buy a pig to fatten so we will have some meat to eat next winter. Did you see any pigs this morning?" "Naw, I didn't look for none." "You had better go back to school." "I ain't going to no school today. I want -the car fixed." "Hush! about that car it will run a few days longer." I asked him where do you attend school? "At the University High." He answered.
"I am glad you came." said his mother. "I want you to mail these letters." "I ain't going to mail no letters, less you have the car fixed." "Now, as soon as I can, I will. I need it now in my work I have got to go way on the other side of town, since it isn't raining I will have to walk. Now go on I am busy and can't take up anymore time today I have other things to do." The last thing I heard as I thanked her, saying good-bye, was. "Well I am going, but ain't you going to have the car fixed today.?"
Page A-1
As we chatted, I glanced about the [livingroom?]. A sleepy hollow chair matched the roomy divan, both upholstered in a shade of green that formed a harmonizing contrast to the blue fabric on a mahogany occasional chair. A similar shade of blue was on a rocking chair. The books piled around the white lamp on the reading table had a used appearance that gave me the impression they were not there, just for ornament, but more for the joy of reading and study. A pair of exquisite vases resposed on top of a spinet desk. They were faithful representations in glass of bunchs of luscious, mouthwatering, purple grapes. The stem forms the mouth of each vase. Tendrils are the handles and the green leaves aganst the purple glass grapes tend to make the illusion more complete.
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"One afternoon she was entertaining the Community Club. The boy that worked for us was helping me clean out the pool to make it ready for a social group that had rented it for the evening. When we finished scrubbing the cement bottom of that pool I was so tired that I sat down on the bank to rest for a moment. Sister came walking up.
" 'What are you doing?' she asked.
" 'resting, for I'm really tired out,' I answered.
" 'Well,' she said, 'if I hated the country as bad as you do I'd get out of it. If you don't like this, why don't you get out and go in business for yourself?'
"That made me mad. I'd worked so hard to build up our business and it really belong to both of us together. But that's when I decided to get out and see if I could not do better. I came to town, rented a small place, and a friend went into business with me. That made my sister mad for she had not thought I really would take her at her word and get out. She did everything in her power to stop me. She even told the telephone company that they could not install a phone in my name or in the name of my new shop.
"A lawyer that I consulted asked me if the Smith Flower Company -- that was the way sister and I had been listed in the directory -- was incorporated. I told him it was not. Then he said, 'there's no way in the world that she can legally prevent you having a telephone in your own name.' So he called the telephone company and explained it. Pretty soon they were there to install my phone.
Athens, Georgia
Feb. 25, 1939
Mr. C. L. Butt
Clerk of Superior Court
Blairsville, Georgia
Dear Mr. Butt:
We have not been able to complete our collection of facts and legends concerning source and origin of place-names in Union County, about which we wrote you under date of November 25th.
One reference says that Blairsville was ba
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" 'Yes, sir,' she stated again. She had answered 'yes' to so many questions that she said it again without stopping to consider the meaning. I put my plea before the jury. The judge was mad as fire about it. But I cleared the boy. The jury was out only about five minutes before they came back with the verdict of 'Not Guilty.' Of course the victory wasn't quite as easy as I have pictured it. It was proved that she was made with
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"They were married and left the State. I lost track of them, but I have heard that she lived with him until her death. Her first divorce had taken place before I began my practice, but I had actually gotten two divorces for her in a very few years.
"You may not want to hear about a rape case. It was ridiculous. The boy's father employed me to represent his son, who was accused of raping a woman who lived in another state. The woman was much older than the accused youth. When the case came up for trial, her testimony was positive and emphatic. She stated that he entered her bedroom in the absence of her husband, and assaulted her. Both parties were of low character. My client had no witnesses. Her statement sounded so logical and convincing that I decided not to cross-examine her regarding the actual crime, but to try another plan to save the boy. I had been seeing her around the courtroom
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the store and phone out there for them and what do you suppose I nearly always learn? They are usually gone fishing or hunting when I need them. They think because one of them is my own nephew they are privileged to do pretty much as they please. They even use my cars to make these pleasure trips in and charge the gas to me. I guess I'm just too easy on them.
"I own my business all by myself now. I started out in a very small place, and have had to move twice to have room for my business
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ing milk, butter, and eggs. After one year at Mercer University, I stopped to teach school for a year, and then I enrolled at the University of Georgia. My sister went to Bessie Tift College at Forsyth, Georgia, after she finished High School. She left Bessie Tift to go in training at St. Joseph Infirmary in Atlanta. Her experiences as a nurse would probably be much more colorful than mine as a lawyer. She has nursed in Atlanta, in our home town, and she was on a case in Gainesville, Georgia, when that terrible storm struck there in April 1936. That catastrophe caused so much suffering that it was months before she could get away from Gainesville. It may have been the experiences of the tornado and the emergency needs that followed in its wake that influenced her to go to Washington, D. C., for special graduate training. Now she is working in a Hospital in Virginia. "Long before I had the
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cities, and those of some of the suburban areas. Usually when several lawyers here are concerned in a session of court in some other county, they will go together in one car. Then too, procedure and practice in the average county court is informal, free and easy. Of course there are exceptions. For instance, chamber hearings are usually held in the judge's office. Lawyers, clients. and all parties attending the Superior Court's regular Saturday session are allowed to chew and smoke tobacco, and very few rules are enforced at these particular sessions. "The greatest trouble that lawyers in the smaller courts have to contend with is getting their cases to trial. If one or the other side does not want the case tried it sometimes goes on from term to term and from year to year until it wears out - parties die, get together or it is finally dismissed for lack of prosecution. The main cause for this is that attorneys in small towns have to depend on the good will of fellow attorneys, and of the judge, in order to make a brotherhood, and they do not care except in exceptional and very rare cases to incur the displeasure of their associates, by insisting on a trial in the face of a motion for continuance from the other side. Of course as procedure is being constantly simplified and 'streamlined' this objection is being overcome by the modern reforms. "As to my religious activities, I couldn't be anything except a Baptist, as all of my people have been of that denomination and I grew up in that faith. An uncle of mine is pastore
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 51 of 73
[Mrs. Lelia Bramblett]
[?] June 17, 1938
Mrs. Lelia Bramblett
157 Chatooga Avenue
Athens, Georgia
Hornsby
[?Line ?]
[?Line ?]
When I arrived at Mrs. Bramblett's [Matthew's?], [she?] wasn't home. I rapped on the door, there was no response. I rapped again and a vivacious young girl of high school age made her appearance from an adjoining room, which at one time had served as a barber shop. "Are you looking for grandmother?" I told her I was. " Well just come in and sit down, I am sure she will be here in a minute. She is always gone some place doing something for somebody. My name is Martha Jane Brown, I am her grand daughter. "
I was invited into the living room, It was nicely furnished with modern furniture. In a few minutes Mrs. Bramblett Brantley came in all out of breath. She is a stout person, wearing a print dress black shoes and gray hose. Her hair is gray, she had it plaied in two long braids and it wound around her head. She adjusted her silver rimmed glasses as she came into the room, she has a cute air about her, when she wants to make a statement [?] [emphatic?] she winks her right eye nods her head and says: "Thar you are, huh." [??]
I got up when she entered the room. She laughed and began: "Well I be swegar you did come didn't ye? Now just keep your chair 'taint no need to git up. Let me git a dip of snuff and I'll with ye. Now lady if you don't like my snuff you needn't bother long or me,,'cause I am going to dip my snuff and when I dip I got to spit if the president of the United States was here. [???
"So you want me to tell you my life history? Well if I told you all I know it would be a long one, but I don't know nothing so interesting to tell the truth I have been through so much and so many things have happened in the sixty-one year I have been here
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I have forgot what I did know. Ain't you cold, if you ain't, you look like it all humped over thar writing. I wish I could write I can do right well at reading. Let me see how you spell my name, no that ain't right its spelled with two tt's [heap?] of folks spells it with one though.
"I was born and raised out here at Princeton Factory. My mother didn't work in the mill after she married. She kept house, but Pa did. He made a dollar a day, he ran a picker machine. Do you know what a picker machine is, well you tear a bale of cotton up and put it in the picker, it chews and cut that cotton all to pieces for that room it went to the carding room, then to the spinners on to the weaving room whar it was made into cloth.
"Thar won't but two of us chillun me and my brother. He didn't work in the mill 'til he was grown. My ma and Pa moved to Winder, Georgy after the Princeton Factory closed and my brother went to work there as a weaver. Ma and Pa didn't stay in Winder not more than a year they moved back here and he worked in the Southern Mill. My brother went away out to Ark-an-sas and was put thar when my mother died. I ain't never seed him since. Fer all I know he is dead. When Ma died Pa come to live with us. He died at my house.
"The Lord I pray, I went to work when I was ten year old. I went to school and my blame old teacher tried to make me write with my right hand and I was left handed, it messed my writing up so I jes' quit fooling with 'em and went to work in the mill. I worked in the carding room and didn't made but thirty cents a day, that was con-sidered big money fer a kid to make in them days,
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[?] and chillun went to work by the time they was knee high to a grasshopper. Now a carding machine is a great big machine you feed the cotton to and it comes out in a great big old lap.
"When I was a little girl Ma and Pa moved out to White Hall , to work in the mill for Old man John R. White. He done the same thing at White Hall, he done at Princeton, he was a picker. We lived in a two-room log cabin. We lived in one room and cooked and ate in the other, we lived out there about six months. The one we lived in at Princeton was a nice house for that time. There was two rooms on the first floor and one upstairs they were large rooms, and all the houses were ceiled like this one of mine is.
"When I was little I was crazy about brown sugar. Did you ever see any, We kept it by the barrel at our house, but to me it won't [high?] as good as Mrs. Ridley's Riley's who lived a little way up the road. I use to take my little tin cup and go to her house every morning for brown sugar. It was the best stuff I ever tasted. I never will forget one morning, well I set out with my cup to Mrs. Ridley's. When I got in site of her house I seed a man sitting on her porch. That was the funniest thing to me 'cause I had never seed a man at her house before 'cause she was a widow woman and 'twon't no body lived thar but she and her daughter Willie. When I seed that man I tucked my little tail and started back home, as fast as I could go. She called me back but I didn't pay her no mind. When I got home Ma asked me 'what's the matter didn't you get no sugar.' "I told her the trouble and she said; ''taint nobody but her brother.' "I went on back and got my sugar.
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"Not long after that we moved back to Princeton, I sure did miss Mrs. Ridley Riley, one day I happened to go to Mrs. McLerey's McClaskey she give me a tea cake. Back in them days all the houses had paling fence 'round them. Mrs. McLerey McClaskey lived right back of our house. It was too much trouble to go all the way 'round, so I tore a paling off the back fence and every day I would slip through and and go to her house for my tea cakes. I thought she had the prettiest white table clothe I ever saw.
"Mr. Henry Lovern [? Lawrence?] was the boss and his brother Mr. Horace Fred Lovern Lawrence was the Super (supervisor) over the carding room they were good bosses. They looked after the well fare of their hands, and saw to it that the houses were in good con-dition and fitten to live in. The size of the house depended on the size of the family you had. If your family was small you had a small one, a big family got a larger house. We rented the houses from the mill and when you got your pay ticket the rent was tuk out of your pay."
She laughed and began: "I am here to tell you the boss was my sweetheart. I went with him 'til he married, me and his sister run together. The reason I didn't marry him I didn't want him. He married Bekkey Dye Bonny? Drew, if this here story I am telling you ever comes out in a book 'course I ain't expecting it to, but if [?] it does I sure hope Henry [give?] gets holt of it and reads it if he is living, and as fer as I know he is. Do you know, he fixed up his house and bought every stitch of the furniture before he was married. He come by my house the day before he married and tuk [???????]
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me to see his new home. He told me if I would marry him that day the house would be mine. I told him no it won't neither. He was a heap older than I was, me and him jes' claimed each other as sweethearts. I use to get a heap of fun making the girls mad taking their beaus 'way for them.
"I don't recollect nary one of my grandparents on my mammy's side. My grandfather worked in Princeton mill. I don't know if my grandmother worked or not. I heard my ma say she was an Irishwoman and come to this country when she was sixteen year old, they said she was a little bity woman. They lived in Madison County before they moved to Athens, my mother was a Stephens before she married. When my grandmother and grandfather died my mother was just a little girl. There were four girls and two boys, the oldest went to work in the mill and raised the least ones. The oldest were about grown when they come to Princeton. They were weavers and made fifty cents a day. They got twelve and one half cents a cut and they got about four cuts a day which amounted to fifty cents.
"You know my chillun calls me old fashion 'cause I don't try to dress like they do and talk proper, I don't care none. I tells them I can make rings 'round them now when it comes to doing things. Why, do you know when I was a young girl they use to wear drawers and call they bloomers. We wore long dresses, and cotton stockings.
"I can't say that the health con-ditions in mills were any different back then, for what they are now. Of course there won't no hospitals nor health clinics when the hands got sick
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the doctors wont up on their profession like they are now and they went on and died like Henry's Joe's first wife. She couldn't give birth to her child, and so she died. Now that is all taken care of. She was sixteen year old to the day when she died, she had been married exactly one year. She worked in the mill before she married Henry Joe, she was a spinner.
"I told you I stopped school 'cause they wanted me to write with my right hand. We didn't have a school house at Princeton the Methodist church was used as a school. Back in them days thar warn't no such thing as free school's. You had to pay a dollar a head for every kid in school that money went for the teachers salary. Miss Jemantha Ward Savannah Wood was my first teacher, Henry's father Mr. Bramblett Brantley was my next teacher, and Miss Barton Brown was the last teacher I had, she taught in a little one room shack. Yes, Miss. Barton Brown tried to make me write with my right hand and I was as left handed as a jack rabbit. Most of my teachers were women, they didn't skeer me, you let the school bell ring, when Old man Bramblett Brantley made his appearence I would begin to cry, I was afraid of that man as a bear. Than the Stypher Smith boys come to Princeton to put up a night school, they taught penmanship. I went one night they wouldn't let me use my left hand so I didn't go back. I ain't ashamed of my reading, when it comes to writing 'bout all I can do is write my name.
"The company had a store. Once a week the hands went to the store and got their supply of rations and it was taken out of their pay ticket. We were paid off once every four weeks. It didn't take much to live on back than. Eggs were ten cents a dozen, butter ten
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cents a pound, milk five cents a gallon, fat back sold for four and five cents a pound and chickens ten and fifteen cents a piece, flour was mighty cheap too. People lived at home them days Ma had her own cow, hogs, chickens and garden. They didn't know what conveniences were, it was jes' like living in the country sure 'nough. Didn't have no such thing as restrictions, such as how close the hog pen was to the house and water works were unheard of.
"I am sixty-one year old and I have never been out of Georgy but once in my life. My daughter was living in South Ca'lina they sent me word to come at once she was [dying?] I hustled to see her, she lived jes' a few hours after I got to her house. I bought her chillun home with me and raised them, they are grown and married now. When I was on the train going to see my daughter, when - saw them 'lectric lights I didn't act like Aunt [Nancy?] and Uncle Josh, a reckord we use to have on the graphyphone. I am sorry them old things went out of style, I liked to play the records, I jes' despise a radio."
Her daughter Virginia came to the door and announced supper was ready. Mrs. Bramblett Brantley looked at the clock: "Well I I'll be, I have been talking the blessed afternoon and you haven't finished yet. I know you are tired and I sure am." I asked if I might return early the next morning: "Sure, sure I want you to." When I reached her house early the next morning she was in her bed room, It was in perfect order. On the bed a green frog pillow, a [tabby?] cat was snuggled close to the pillow: "Have a chair and take off your hat and coat, let them dry while
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you are talking. Let me see I left off yesterday where I went to see my daughter in South Ca'lina." She put her fingers to her mouth and made a [???] through her fingers into the fire.
"After Henry's Joe's wife died he went three year before he ever spoke to me. I ran over him one day in the mill, we started to going together regular after that. We [met at his fathers] house to do our courting. I won't allowed [to ???]. We ran away and married. I was born on [the first day of February?] one minute past twelve o'clock 1878. My ma [said I have been?] walking and talking since I was nine months old [and have been?] talking every since. I worked in the mill for six months after I married I reckon you know the rest.
"When I was a little thing they [?] said I was never still five minutes. [Saint Lovern?] [Sid? Lawrence?] told me if I would sit still five minutes he would give a nickle nickel. I sat still but he never give me that nickle nickel. A long time after I had been married, he come back to visit his brother his brother said to me. 'Lelia do you know who this is?' [?] "I said no, who is it? 'It is Saint Lovern [Sid?Lawrence?] he said: [?] "Gimmy that nickel you promised me. He laughed and laughed, why Lelia [Lizzie?] haven't you ever forgotten that. I told him no, and I never would. I called him my sweetheart when I was a little girl. He was a sight older than me, I use to watch for him going to work, when I saw him coming I would hop up on the gate post he come by would kiss me and keep going.
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"We lived at Princeton ten years after we married three of my children was born there and three over here at the Southern Mill. When they were large enough to work all of them worked in this mill down here as weavers. The cloth they made was coarse white cloth, I don't know what it was used for, as all of it was shipped to northern market for sale.
"When Princeton mill shut down, then we moved to the Southern Mill and have been here every since. Yes, we have been living here thirty-one year. When Henry went to work in this mill he done the same kind of work, only he made a dollar ($1.00) a day.
"In my young days we use to get together on Saturday nights and have our little parties. The older folks danced and the younger ones jes' frolicked and had a fine time. Bless your life we had better be in by nine o'clock or our parents would be out looking for us to find out the reason why.
"I never will forget one week end Pa and Ma went out in the country to spend the night. My ma had taken an orphan girl in the home to raise, she, Ruth Rose my cousin , and me decided to have a dumb [supper.? Did? you? ever? hear? of?] one? We done every thing back'ards. I don't remember jes' what [?] we had to eat, nothing but bread and [meat?] I don't believe. Anyway we didn't speak a word while we were having it. Its a wonder I didn't I was such a talker, the girls didn't like me much 'cause I would tell on them. About eight o'clock [??], and Henry Joe come in the back door. We had the table all ready fixed when they got there, we girls were sitting by the fireplace in the kitchen and hadn't spoke a word since we started. I don't knoy know why they went in the
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back door unless they saw a light in the kitchen. They must have known what [?] was going on 'cause they didn't say a word, Henry sat down in Ruth's Rose's chair first than changed and sat down in my chair. Me and Ruth set our plated on the backside of the table, Emma Edna fixed hers on the front side. She and Jim John married, he later become a Baptist preacher. Henry Joe and Jim John didn't say a word when they come in and sat down, but I did I asked them what they come fer, 'cause we wanted to they daid, I didn't like Henry Joe then so I run them home, Henry Jack married Ruth Rose my first cousin she lived a year. Three year later we married.
"In those day hoop dresses and bustles were a mighty go. I was married in a dove colored dress trimmed in dove colored ribbon. I say silk we didn't know what a silk dress was, they were for the rich. I remember a girl I ran with was going to get married, we decided to borrow the dresses from two girls who had just married. We asked them to lend us their dresses, they said all right, but what are you going to do with them. I wouldn't tell 'em. They lend us every thing they were married in. Dresses, undercoats, drawers, shoes, stocking even to their hats and gloves. [Nettie?] [?] the girl getting married said it would bring her good luck, if I didn't tell what I borrowed 'em for. The next day I marched down to the Justice of Peace with her to get married. On the way I had a fuss with the boy I was to stand up with, we were all ready on the outs with each other a little bit anyhow, so when we got there I wouldn't stand up with him.
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"There was a right smart difference in the way things were run in the Southern Mull than at Princeton Factory, for one thing they had more to do with over here. When we first [?] moved to this place there won't a store, church and a mighty few houses on this hill. We had to [?] go way over on Prince Avenue to buy our rations, we bought enough to last two weeks. Rations won't [nigh?] as [high?] as they are now. Every now and than the mill would build a new house. I have seen them go up and now they are going down.
"Way back yonder when any of the hands got sick, the bosses were mighty good about letting them have money and pay it back when they went back to work. When one of the hands died and the family won't able to bury them, the boss let the family have money and pay it back when they could."
A man in work clothes stuck his head in the door: "Good morning, where is [Gin?] [?]?" "She had gone to take Naomi to [?] nusery school;" Mrs. Bramblett Brantley answered: "Look here make your self useful and make a fire in the stove it is most [nigh?] time for Gin to cook dinner." [He?] went in the direction of the kitchen there were sounds of the fire being made by the noise he made. In a short while Gin [Bessie?], Mrs. Bramblett's Brantley's daughter came in. She like her mother weighs near two hundred, she was wearing a print dress, black sweater and shoes without hose. She took off her coat shook the rain from it, filling her mouth with snuff asked: "Mama did you give the lady some of the candy I made yesterday;" "No, bring us some, it is powerful hard but is sure taste good." Gin [Bessie?] left the room returning with a huge piece of white sugar
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candy in her hand, the size of a goose egg, and have it to me. I offered it to Mrs. Bramblett Brantley. "You break it don't want to put my hands on it before you, 'cause I don't know what these sores on my hands might be. Gin you better git to work on that dinner what are you going to cook, some pinto beans?" No, said Gin Bessie: "I bought a bunch of the prettiest collards at the store, you ever seen. I think I will cook them and some dried butter beans." She soon left the room.
"Yes, we are living in a new day now, about twenty-five year ago we organized a club in the community called the 'Lend a Hand Club.' The object of it is to help them that can't help themselves. We look after the sick, buy coal, food clothing and buy medicine. The way we make our money is by having suppers, quiltings and sell the quilts. We are planning to have a minstrel at the Community House to night. The admission is ten and twenty cents a very liberty (liberal) price. Jess Baxter [Bill Belau?] is putting it on and every blooming time he comes here it rains. He brings his own [caat?], we don't have enough young folks in this community that has talent enough to put on a dog fight.
"The Community House use to be the school it was first put up for the village, but when this side of town begun to build up the [?] chillun come over here to school. There were soon too many for the school and Chase Street School was built. Now it is used as a gathering place for the village. The girls have a glee club con-ducted by Miss Lucile Crabtree Sila Crawley.
"There were so many chillun on the streets and nothing to do so I went to the authorities of the mill and arranged to have
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a playground at the Center. Now we have a nice nusery for the smaller ones from nine to eleven-thirty in the morning and a playground for the older ones in the afternoon, they also have indoor games on bad days. This sponsored by the W.P.A. with capable leaders in charge.
"Miss Julian [Johnson?], I have forgot her first name started the "Lend a Hand Club. She lived over here on Hiawassee, she went to every woman in the village. Them what wanted to join and attend regular was put on one list, the ones can't is put on another, called the honory list. The dues are ten cents a month.
"Henry got tired of working the mill and decided to change [?] jobs. That was a long time before the mill shut down. He worked on the police force a while then he opened a barber ship right out here by the side of the house and did a good business. After the mill closed he moved it down town as there was not enough business in the village to keep it open. He has been down town every since.
"We have been in this house for seventeen years. We bought it the day Jim Louis, my boy was sixteen. [????] Once I went to the door there stood a darkey, he said: 'Miss don't think anything about me standing here, but the last time I was along here, [??] where this house stands was a cotton field. I have picked cotton and pulled corn through her many a day long befo' [?] there was even a railroad run through this place. The only house standing was Mrs. [?] [?].
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[They used to have Holiness meetings across the railroad] [tracks. One night I was going to meeting, a boy was standing?] on the bridge that crossed the railroad. He holloed at me: 'Mrs. Bramblett Brantley whar are you going?' "I said to the Holiness Meeting, he said: 'to get happy' "I said and stay all night, and from that we got to calling it "Happy Top". It was kinder a rough place too, after it started building up all kind of people started moving in, drinking and cutting up. They were kind hearted in their way, but rough as could be. When the mill shut down, the folks had to leave and the houses have rotted down. You take that apartment house on [Park?] Avenue, it was a nice building. Jes' one family after another lived in it they didn't know how to take care of it, they soon tore it to pieces. I think the rooms rented for twenty-five cents each.
"That mill has never done no good since the war and everything has gone up so. During the war I made thirty-five ($35.00) a week. They don't pay no such salaries as that now."
A girl came in, she was wearing a gay print dress, a sweater over her head to keep off the rain, and a pair of knee length boots completed her costume. She went over to the fire without an invitation, spitting a mouthful of snuff [?] into the fire, turning to me she asked: "What are you doing taking census?" "No, we are [?] in the movies, don't you think I will make a good actress?" The girl tried every way to find out what I was writing. Seeing that Mrs. Bramblett Brantley didn't want her to know I let her do the talking.
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After she saw it was no use trying to find out what I was writing she remarked: "Well I reckon my feet are dry enough, can I use your phone?" "Yes, but you be sure you don't have any mud on your feet, if you mess up Martha Jane's [Mary Joe's?] room she will bless you out." When she left the room Mrs. Bramblett Brantley said: "Ain't it funny how folks hang around to find out your business. I am glad you let me do the talking.
"Yes, Mam, times sure have changed terrible, back yonder from what they are now. Even in clothes it use to take five and ten yards of cloth to make a dress now you can get one out of three. The neighbors have changed too, everybody use to be neighborly, helping those that couldn't help themselves. Now they don't pay any attention whether they are starving, half clothed or sick. Don't mix and mingle, or swap jokes like they use to.
"We use to have to go to church or we didn't go no whar else. When I was a child I use to have to sit on the front seat. When the old women got to shouting I had to crawl up[ on the bench to keep them off my toes, I never wore no shoes to church, all the little chillun went to church and Sunday School bare footed.
"There were no such thing as free schools in my day, but I don't call them free now heap more chillun would be in school 'round here if they didn't have to pay so much for the use of their books, pencils and paper as well as other things they use in school now. Chillun won't made to go to school in my day. That is the reason I quit school and went to work, Do you know
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I have picked cotton many a day cross that railroad where you see them houses. Rack yonder folks went to work in the mill by the time they was knee high to a duck, now they won't let 'em work 'til they are too old.
"When I lived at Princeton there was an old darkie who come to my house every Sunday morning and cook breakfast for us. When that coffee got to stinking in the kitchen it made me some hungry. He called us his white chillun. When he left my house and went to cook dinner for my sister-in-law I was right behing him. The [??] other folks cook smells better than that you cook your self. Virginia Bessie came to the door: "Mama are you going after Naomi ?Nora or do you want me to go. Seems to me you ought to have told the woman everything you ever knew by this time." "I could tell her a heap more if I didn't have to go to school for the baby, and its eleven-thirty now." She got up put on a heavy black coat, and we started out in the rain, [?] for the little girl, and I on my way back to town. On the way she said: "You think these streets are bad now, but you ought to have seen them several year ago." We turned into Chase Street, she continued: "This street use to be a perfect loblolly before they paved it." We reached the Community Center: "Well this is where we part I sure have enjoyed your visit. Come back to see me and spend the day. If my story gets into print I sure do want to buy one of them books."
[The last I saw of her she was crossing the muddy street in the direction of the Community House?].
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 52 of 73
[Mrs. Margaret Davis]
Breathless after climbing the long flight of steps leading to Mrs [Davison's?] shop [I entered??] a narrow hall, vacant except for a table stool and telephone, over, which a light was burning.
Several chairs were grouped about a glowing heater at one end of the room. This was the sewing room, and here were two long tables used for cutting out clothing and for marking alteration garments for alteration. Finished garments almost filled the long rack [at?] one end of the room. Between two large windows a smaller table was flanked by sewing machines; one was [a?] modern electric machine, while the other was of the old fashioned pedal type. [? ?]
[??]
McCune
Dec. 9-39
Jan. 18-39
Mrs. Margaret Davis (White)
193[,?] Nacoahoe Ave.
Athens, Georgia. [?]
The tailor shop of Mrs. Davis is located in the second story of the Morris building. A long flight of stairs at one side of the building leads up to the shop. As I reached the head of the stairway where a light was burning, I was in a long narrow hall, vacant except for a table , which held the telephone, and a stool.
I knocked at the first door and a very friendly voice, said, "come in. Opening the door I entered a large work room. Several men from the different dry cleaning establishments were talking with a large dark headed woman. She proved to be Mrs. [Davison?] She asked me to have a seat, and that she would be with me in a few minutes. "Just have a seat" she said to me. "I'll be with you in a few minutes. I moved a chair nearer the stove at one side of the room to wait for Mrs. Davis' to get through with her customers to leave [.?] This was not my first visit to the shop. And as I looked around the large room, with the two long tables that were used for cutting and marking alternations,# I saw that they were piled up with work garments to be fixed [?]. A long rack at one end of the room was filled with with finished work that was finished. A small table between the windows had a machine on each side of it. Two sewing machines [flankes?] a small table that stood between two windows One was a large electric machine, but the other was just of an old machine with the old foot peddle[.?] type.
As the men put their work down and started out the door, another man came in, and said, "Miss Maggie, can you turn these shirt collars for me? # They are pretty bad, but I know that you can fix them 'em if any one can." # Looking at "After inspecting the collars, she told him that she replied, I could can fix them as good as new, but that he would you'll have to wait, for them 'em until the next day 'til tomorrow." He said that would be alright all right, and how added, much would it be. "What'll the job cost me?" She told him that she got 10 charged ten and 15 fifteen cents for turning collars, # according to how bad they were. The man said alright, he would much work was necessary. "All right" said the man. I'll come for them the next day. tomorrow.[? ? ?]
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The man did had not get out left before another was in the shop, saying, "Miss Magggie, can you fix a hole in my coat right quick? I got it caught in a screen door a few minutes ago and you know that I can feel this cold wind." Miss Maggie laughed and said, " hand Hand me the coat and I I'll will see what I can do." He pulled off his leather "lumber [?] jack", and it wasn't many in a very few minutes before he was on his way , his coat fixed mended, and it had only cost him fifteen cents. Mrs. [?]is a large, dark headed woman [?] was dressed in a [?] wore a neat print dress. She Mrs. [Davison?] called, " Edd Ed ", and a negro Negro man came to the door, she told him to "fix up the fire she told him, [for?] " the this room room's was getting cold and for him not to don't go off, for they had there's plenty of work to be [do?] done. She turned to me with a friendly smile and said [,?] "did you think I would never get through [?] it is it's like this every day.
"But that is that's where I get most of my business now For I don't get as much from the stores now. But Since Christmas they are they're not doing so much business, this time of the year. Yet I have all that I can do, and I don't take but very few new things to make since I have been running the shop by myself, #/ for I don't have the time for that.
"[But?] all this is not interesting to you I know ," she remarked. But I explained that was what I wanted, a story about the story of her life and her work. She laughed and said, "I don't think my story would be interesting to any anybody else, one, for I guess it is it's just about like most any ones. I have had my ups and downs, pleasures and ,# yes,# troubles too . # we all have them 'em.
There was another knock at the door, and in answer to her " come Come in" the door opened and a negro Negro man came in, entered. he was well- dressed [nice?] and by his speech and manner [take? he made you me think of a colored Negro preacher, He said he had brought in a pair of pants that had a hole in them, and asked if could she fix them inside of two hours ?" cause Mistiss, I has just get'er gotta have 'em. # Mrs Davis told him that she would do the her best that she could. to finish the task on time.
As he went out, # the man from the Lee Morris's Morris Clothing Store
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came in with a pair of new trousers to be adjusted to measurements of 38" waist 34" inseam length, and the cuff were to be put in. pants, for the cuffs to be [? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?] in the waist and 34" long in length [?] and that the customer would be back for them in two hours.
As he closed the door behind him, Mrs. Davis looked at me and [?] laughed again, and said " I will I'll make a bargain with you," she said,. "see all this work that I have to do [.?] well Well, if you will fix this pair of pants for me, I will give you a story of my life and my business [.?] how about it ? are you a good sport? "
I got up pulled off my hat and coat and told her to hand me the those pants. She looked at me andsaid "but grinned and gave me a quizzical look. you will you'll have to french-cuff them," she challenged, " for I know they are not long enough to get a cuff without it. " [But?] I said insisted that I could do that also too. And as I took the pants to the table to measure and mark them, she said "I # believe you know what you are doing. " It, was my time turn to laugh, and I said informed her that I had fix fixed ed a good may many a pairs pair of pants, and that she need not worry about them, and that I was willing to work for my story. Mrs. Davis said, "well I like a good sport," she said " but I did not [?] didn't think that you would you'd do it. But I will I'll be a good sport [?] too[,?] and if you don't mind me talking and working to too at the same time I will I'll give you the best story that I can. tell you all I can remember. But don't think that I won't have to stop, # for I will [For?] you see how it is.
It did not take me long to finish my work the chore, and I handed them to her to see if they were alright. would pass inspection. She said, "well , I was fooled one time . and you did a very good job ." she called," Edd" "Ed" she called and [? ?] waited Waiting for him to come she said, "do you like coffee? " I said that I liked it " very much," and she said, I replied, "now I knew that we will get along," was her answer. As Edd came in the door she told him to take the pants to press, but fix our coffe pot on first Ed appeared, "Take these pants and press 'em," she ordered. "but first fix some coffee for us, for I think a good cup of coffee will help us out. " Edd Ed went out and came back with a
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[? ? ? ? ?] coffee pot, full of water he fixed stirred up the fire again and [? ?] placed the coffee pot on the heater. Mrs. davis [Davison?] said, he will not won't forget our coffee, I just don't know what I would do without him . he has been with me so long , and knows just how I want every thing done [.?] and he is one honest negro , Never bothers a thing.
"But get your book and pencils pencil[.?] you don't have to [mark?] sew any more, and if I talk to too much, just stop me. # For I realy really like to talk and I get lonesome for someone to talk too. The wind was rattling the window windows [,'?] and the water in the coffee pot was begining to [?] percolate as she started her story.
"I was born in a little two-room log house[,?] on My Grandfather Sumers place, out near where Princeton is now. While I was still just a baby, Daddy moved to near the old paper mill. The place / is now called the [Cord?] Mill. But / the old paper mill building is still standing, but in [to ? ?] too a condition to be used for anything.
"My fater father and Jerome Wallace were the men that run operated the Paper machine[,?] or "[In-jines??]," as they called them then. Of course they had helpers, but one of them either father or Mr. Wallace had to be on duty all the time. [And?] if one of them was off sick , or off for any other reason, [? ?] one had to stay [?] until the other [?] was back on duty. [? ? ?] There was [the?] only one woman that they [used?] employed in that part of the mill. And she counted the paper [.?] it was made in large square sheets ready for the printers , and they said she was an expert. It was a long time before they ever got a machine that was as accurate and fastat that task as she was.
"Old man Bishop run ran the finishing machine. I have watched them work many a time when I was a child, for it was so interesting to see the machines run. And out from the Paper Mill, was the rag room, where the rags were sortened sorted, and each color was put in a seperate separate bin to [its self?]. They bought old clothes and rags to make paper. All buttons were cut off [.?] # and they They were had to be very careful about the buttons that, for they a would button left on could ruin [?] a mchines machine if they [? ? ?]
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"I was sent to school when I was about six, [?] but it was not like the schools are now. School then was in the Old Hall, and was all in one room. Miss Sally Wood was our teacher, and there was only teacher for [? ? ?] the whole school [.?] and she taught all the children. She had There were about one hundred children[,?] all sizes and ages, # from six years up,# and some of them # were almost grown. Our books were [?] spelling, out of the Old Blue Back Speller , # arithmetic , and geography. We sure had to study [.?] every one stood up in row rows [? ? ?] for spelling bees, and every time you missed a word, you had to go the bottom of the row. Oh yes, we sudied studied, but at that we [?] had some good [?] times in that old schoolhouse [.?] [?] in later years it was made into a dwelling house[,?] and is, I believe , still standing. at the time.
"It was a great thing to us kids, to work in the rag room at the paper mill after we were out of school. They were glad to have us too. Our job was to sort the rags, # and we enjoyed the work. [and?] they paid us fifty cents a month. [?] that was a lot of money to us then . # of course it wouldn't mean much to the kids these days. People from all around sold their old clothes and rags at the paper mill. And many time we found nickles and dimes in the bags of rags. # We were allowed to keep this money,# and we bought candy with it and had a big time.
"And one day[,?] I sure remember that time , for I think that pleasures and disappointments in our childhood days are better remembered than any thing else. We found a large bag of new clothes, and they were nice ones, dress dresses for women and children,# underwear,# stockings,# and some men's shirts. Well , we just dressed ourselves up, and put these things aside, for we wanted to keep them 'em. But the very next morning, a woman from town was out there hunting her clothes. She said Her maid had sold them and kept the money[.?] And as the old saying goes, 'our feathers fell,' for we had to give up all [? ?] these nice clothes.
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" About this time they put in [?] machine machines to make paper bags. The machines would cut a hundred bags at a time, and that [?] provided some thing else [? ?] for us kids could to do.# We tied [up?] the bags in bundles, two hundred bags to a bundle; that was fun, for we folded half one way and the other half the other way. Those bag machines were a great curiosity to the people then, and they would come for miles to watch them run.
" They also used jute to make paper. That was bought in large bales, and it [was?] made another job for us . We would tear up the jute into small piecies pieces to have it ready for the machines. One day we found a lot of paper money in a bale of jute. But two of the women that worked there took that away from us and said that they would have to send it back. But folks said that they kept it and bought them a home with it . # I don't know about that, but I do know that we did not didn't get any of the that money.
"And did you knew that they use used to make paper out of wood, # even back in those days. Well , they did [.?]# I don't remember just what kind of wood they used for it, but they would cut young saplings,# skin the bark off,# and grind them into pulp ready for the paper machine. The paper made from the wood was a heavy brown paper such as they use for wrapping and was called manila paper.
" People was paid once a month then for their work, and it was the custom to buy a months supply of provisions on pay day. And they all traded at the company store. The men all liked their tobacco, and this was one supply that was not forgotten when they were buying groceries. [?] it was something they felt like they could not do without.
"And kids would slip tobacco out and chew it, the boys especially. One day some of the kids swiped some of their dads tobacco and told me that I had to hide it, and I had better put it where it would not be found. I decided that the old well would be the best place if I could climb up and put it on the sills in # the top of the well [shetters.?] I managed to climb up and [?] around it so nice along the sills, and was sure that no one would see it. But it
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started raining that night, and it rained for a solid week.
"After the rain was over the kids told me to get their tobacco. I went to the old well[,?] and found it was ruined . the top of the [shettes?] had leaked, and the rain had [?] soaked that tobacco until it swelled up [?] twice as thick as it shoud should be. And I almost got a whipping beating from these kids, for of course they chewed it, and was sick. No I did not try any, for I knew better . [?] Mamma would sure have tanned my hide.
" I had some older sisters and our house was just a gathering place for the young folks . there was a crowd of them in and out all the time, and I could get the biggest thrill out of watching and listing listening to them talk. One night , two girls come to our house to set a dumb supper. I was # just about seven then,# and I cried because they put me to bed,# for they had these supper suppers at midnight,# just on the stroke of twelve.
"They started their supper and one of my sisters and another girl put on pants and was going to scare them 'em. I could hear them talking for I wasn't asleep if I was in bed. I slipped up and told one of my Uncles what they [were?] was going to do. It was a disgrace in them days for a girl to dress up like a boy,# so he said that he would fix them. And when they started around the kitchen to scares scare the girls that was cooking,# he got after them 'em, and did they scream ? [?] any way it broke up the supper and I was satisfied.
"Did you ever hear about them old time dumb suppers ? [,?] they were was poplar popular then. That was the way the girls found out who was going to be their future husbands. I know it seems funny now to look back on [times?] things we as they were did then. But after all, I think people realy enjoyed life more we had more fun than the than they [?] young folks has now.
"Well , I will I'll try to tell you how they cooked these suppers. Two girls did the cooking,# set the table,# and each one used their right hand . everything was done backwards,# even to making the bread . they did every
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thing together,# and each one just used one hand. They could not speak or laugh from the time they started until it was over ended, for if they did the spell was broken and nothing would happen.
"Everything must be ready just at twelve, the table set for two . and also a Bible and a bottle was placed on the table. Then the wind was supposed to blow and the doors come open , [?] and the men could were expected to come in and eat. They did not speak either, just [?] ate and walked out. If they a man picked up the Bible,# then they he would make a good husband, but, beware of the man that moved the bottle[,?] for you would sure get a [? ?] husband who would turn out bad and be a drunkard for sure. And if no [?] man come came,# and your coffin come in# then you was domed doomed to die an old maid.
" These suppers were lots of fun,# for most every time the girls would get scared and wake up every one body in the house. Oh yes, they had to be the only two people awake in the house. " At this time Edd Ed came in with cups , for us to [?] but before we poured our coffee[.?] The negro Negro [?] customs came back for his trousers. [? ?] when [?] Mrs [Davison] only charged him fifteen cents for the work, [? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?] his [? ? ?] expressed in his best [pulpit?? memories.] ∥ [? ? ? ?] We now [enjoyed?] the excellent coffee [? ? ? ? ? ? ?] Mrs. [?] [Davison?] was tired . for she had realy rapidly reduced that pile of work as she talked. When I mentioned it, she said, "I am use used to it,# and it does not worry me. My customers are all so nice, and if I am occasionally a little late some times in getting out their work[,?] they never say anything. But I guess I had better get back to work. [?] you can rest if you are tried tired." I told her that I was still trying to be a good sport, [?] was ready to write[,?] when she was ready to talk. I reminded her that my job was to write when she talked.
"Well I am going to tell you about how we use to spend Christmas. Christmas that lasted a week,# from christmas eve Christmas Eve, 'till 'til New Yeras Years. Nobody worked, just eat ate danced , and visited all during that week. But this one that I will tell you about is one that we have laughed over may many's the times. time I've laughed over the Christmas I'm going to tell you about now.
three children arrived. Like so many other people in those days, they did not have enough money for the whole family to ride on the train for so such a long a trip, so the children started off several days ahead of their parents. They rode with friends a part of the way and then set out to walk the balance of the way. Those two girls and the boy got here on Christmas Eve, and if they wasn't a sight! One of them the girls weighed over two hundred pounds and she had walked the soles off of her shoes.
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"Mamma was looking for her half-sister and family from Alabama to spend Christmas with us. None of us had ever seen them, and we was sure looking forward to their coming. We was having a big supper and dance for them on Christmas eve Eve night .# also an dance We kids were just on tiptoes, so excited we just couldn't hardly wait . for And, of course , we were looking for Santa Clause too and our tree was all ready. Mamma had killed turkeys and chickens,# and had been cooking cakes and pies for two weeks.
[*?]" But at last they came. Now , child, [I am going to tell you this just as I remember it.?] And I don't know if you will care to use it or not, [but?] we have had many laughs over this christmas, so many years ago. and My Aunt and Uncle got here several days before the children did. [?] like so many other people in those days, they did not have money enough for all of them to come on the train , [?] So they started the children [?] off days before they left [?] themselves. Ridding Riding part of the way with friends, and walking the rest of the way. But the two girls and boy got here on christmas eve . [?] if they wasn't a sight !# one of the girls weighed over two hundred pounds, and had walked the soles off her shoes.
"All of our folks and many of our friends were there. And Among one of them was mamma's neices nieces and her husband, a man named, Stencile. Also one of My Uncles and his daughter, they played fiddles and were to furnish the music for the dance. for they all played fiddles. Everything was cleared out of two room rooms [? ?] , And about three o'clock the young people started [?] dancing. We kids were happy . for we could watch them as long as wanted to , 'cause we didn't have to go to bed early on christmas Eve.
"The older women were busy cooking and getting the supper ready . every body was having a good time .# the man calling for the dance , would holler, " swing your pardners ." oh, it was a grand time .# and yet happy as we [?] we kids were so interested in the fat girl from Alabama ,# that we stayed pretty close around her. She did not seem to want to dance[,?] and we
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couldn't understand that , And when we saw one of the boys start toward her[,?] we just had to hear what he said. He asked her if she would dance that set with him. We held our breath for her answer, and this is what she said, "I had just as [leif?] [lief?], dance with you as any body else," she said " but I has walked all the way from Alabany to see Aunt Sis, and am to too tired and galled [galleded?] from walking to feel like dance dancing with anybody."
There was a knock at the door[,?] Mrs. [?] [Daivson?] said, "come in", A man from the dry cleaners brought in [?] more work, and with him was a man from the laundry [man?], who wanted to know if she had been able to fix mend the coveralls that he brought her the day before. She laughed and said," you will you'll be surprised [??] at how much wear that man can get [??] out of them 'em yet. " As the [?] customes looked at the coveralls he and said, "Miss Maggie Mollie, how do you do it? It makes no difference how bad anything is[,?] when we bring it to you, it is it's always fixed when we get it back." He [???] requested his bill for the day before [?], paid it all , and went [?] departed.
"Mrs. [?] [Davison?] said, " where was I ? wasn't we just fixing to eat ? well , anyway, they started eating supper about five o'clock, and we had [?] to set the that table eight times, there was so many to eat .# and of course, we children did not eat until all the grown people had [?] finished. Well , this man Stencile, sit sat down at the first table, and that man stayed there, eating with every table full of people. I never saw one person eat so much in all my life. There was plenty to eat,# but we kids were watching the turkey . there was one peice piece left on the dish [?] on the last table full was about to [finisher?] finish eating, and that man Stencile reached over and got it. We was so mad, but we knew better than to say anything. [?] much as we had to eat, we couldn't enjoy it for think thinking about of that last peice piece of turkey.
"The dance lasted all night, but we kids [?] got so sleepy we give gave it up and [?] went bed of our own accord. But we were up early the next morning,# ready for breakfast, # and we but first we had to see what Santa Clause had left for us. Of course we did not have things then like children do / now, but we had many nice things, and when it was time
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for dinner, Mamma saved out some of the turkey for us, [,?] and I guess it was a good thing that she did for that man Stencile was still there, and still eating just like he did the day before.
"I had just about finished school [?] when the old Paper Mill closed down[?], and we moved to Athens, near the old Check Mill[,?] on Broad St. We went to work there and, in the [?], and I still remember how that old mill looked. # I don't think that I will ever forget [?] how that old mill looked.
"It had large posts all through the mill, and one day my sister was leaning against one resting. One of the women thinking she would have some fun, yelled out to her to move quick. It scared my sister[,?] [?] so that she jumped to [?] and tore out a hand full of her hair that caught on a nail. catching her hair on a nail and pulled out a handfull of hair. Every one laughed,# but it made me so mad[,?] and I hit her so hard [?] she fell in the floor. We were due some teasing because We were new people in the settlement, and due a lot of teasing, but after that they did not [?] pester us any more. And we were soon satisfied there[,?] and having the same good old times that we did had enjoyed in our old home community.
"Just when I was thinking that I was about grown, I was visiting my sister, and it was there that I met my present husband[.?] at my sister's house. He came to see my brother-in-law and had the pretties prettiest horse and buggy. He carried me to ride, but we just went # down the road roAd, not far enough to get out of site sight of the house. But even at that, Mamma heard about it. She didn't believe much in whipping,# but she sure could find other ways of punishing, and just for that one little ride, I had to stay at home for three long months. And I was not even allowed to go to church and Sunday school.
"I had a girl friend that I use used # to spend the night with real often, and she would visit me also. One night [?] too. Once I was spending the night at her house[,?] while her mother and father were away visiting, and the was no one at home except the children. [??] Some of her sisters were much older than we, were, so nobody was afraid to stay. But we decided that after the others had [?] all gone to [bed?] sleep, that we would slip [up?] out of bed and cook a dumb supper, for we had wanted to do this for a / long time, but they had always said that we were to too little.
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"After they were all in bed we got up . yes we were was scared, but we was determined to show them 'em that we could do it as well as they could. And we did get the supper ready, didn't even forget the Bible and Bottle. Two boys that knew us had been fishing and was on their way home, saw seeing the light in the kitchen so late they thought that some one body might be sick, and came by to see if there was anything that they could do. But when they saw us in the kitchen they knew what we was doing, and just pushed opened the door,# walked in and picked up the bottle and went out. We were scared so bad[,?] we couldn't move for a few minutes,# but when we did get to yelling[,?] we had everyone in the house up. But , strange as it may seem, one of those boys is now my husband, and my girl friend married the other [?].
"And now I am going to stop a little while for lunch and drink another cup of Edds Ed's coffee. Do you go home for lunch, or do you eat in town? I said that I did not get home as it was to far out, and I usualy usually [?] lunched in town. "Well then," she said " we will just order us somthing sent down here, for I do not leave the shop, for there's there's is always some one coming in. We ordered sandwiches and were argueing arguing as to who was [going?] to pay for them, when a cutomer customer came in and suggested that he flip toss a coin and settle [????] the question. I lost . my last fifty cents went to pay for the sandwiches. [∥?] [But?] as we ate our lunch Mrs Davis said" I am I'm glad that you came to see me to day, but Iam I'm sorry that I I've made you work[,?] so hard. but I have enjoyed talking with you, and it seems like I have got along so well with my work better than usual because I had good helpful company. But I guess I had better get back at it now,# but we can still talk.
" I have been married twice [?] I met my first husband on a picnic . yes we had real picnics then . and every one went and we went in the those old tallahe['?]s. They just put straw in the bottom to sit on, and all [?] piled in together. After dinner[,?] there would be a ball game,# and my husband was one of the [?] players. It was not long after this, that Once we went with a crowd of young people the Old Beaver Dam Church, to see a foot washing . after that was over we rode to the Jim Smith place , where One of the guards showed us all over around.
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the We were especially interested in the prison labor camp. There was so many prisoners, some of them were crippled up in different ways, some with one arms arm and some had only with one leg, but they all had to work. It was on the way home from there that [?????] Sam proposed him. And in about three months we were married.
" We went to housekeeping in the house with Mr. and Mrs. Elliott[?] Endicott. We were was both young but got along fine, and was were very happy. ∥ It was during this time that my Daddy got burned so bad. He was working at the old waterworks plant then. And some of the pipes had been condemed condemned, but they had not changed them. And one day just as Daddy passed by,# one the large pipes with about two hundred pounds of steam in it bursted,# and the steam went all over Daddy's left side even his and head, and just missed missing his eye eyes, he was just a solid blister. There was no ambulances then,# and they carried him home # in a cab. They had two doctors with him and they tiold told us that he could not live until dinnertime. All the our family was called home .# [?] two of the our neighbors put him in bed, pulled took off his clothes and shut all the windows, because they said the air would make the fire go inside.
"They [?] started to giving him whiskey , and afterwards they [?] told my Daddy later that he drank over a half of a gallon. # I don't know about that, but I do know that they gave him some, for [?] my husband went to the despeneary despensary and got it for daddy. The doctors came back at noon[,?] expecting to find him dead they but after they had stayed [?] a long time , they and told us [?] he had a chance to get well . ∥ They said it was because the whiskey had run the fire on to the outside. [?] it took him a long time to get up and where he could go back to work. But in a few years he started to having strokes of paralysis in his left side ,# and the fourth [?] stroke killed him.
"My husband died in 1907. After he passed away I went back to live with Mamma and Dady Daddy. I was blue and discouraged, and decided that if I could work it would help me, and I went to got work at the Climax Hosiery Mill. I worked therefor a while and then I went to work for Mr. [?] Hart at his overall plant. "At first Mr. Head had an overall plant. I had never done any of
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that kind of work,# but I started-in and when I had learned it from the bottom up , [?] I made eight dollars $8 a week. [?] we made some Khaki work pants [?] and did so good on them 'em [,?] that Mr. [?] Hart decided he would open up a tailor shop. He got the place fixed up and put in all the machines. [?] he sent to New York for two Bohemians, to learn us how to be tailors.
He paid thw Bohemians fifty dollars them [?] $50 a week each. I guess they earned it too,# for we was hard to learn. when When the war came on # and we got orders for officers' uniforms , Then to get a raise [in our?] pay and our pay was raised to eighteen dollars $18 a week. The orders kept coming,# and he had to put on ten more girls to help, they [sew?] [sew?] on buttons, fell [?] seams and whipped whip in waistbands. And then the older girls help get another raise to twenty five dollars $25 a week. [?] $25 a week. [?] we were was just rusehed to death with orders all the time while the war lasted.
"But after the war was over, The war ended and things began to drop . he Mr Hart couldn't collectand his business began going down. And then we were out He had to cut us to fifteen dollars' $15 a week,# and the extra help was laid off. It was this time that I saw my first fight between men. And I don't think that I ever want to see another one.
"The Bohemians got to fussing about their work[,?] and then [?] started fighting and throwing things at each other . the women were all scared, and I started to go for Mr. [??] Hart. just as I got to the door, one of them threw the stand that the heavy press iron sit sits on, [?] it just missed my head. I screamed,# and that brought Mr. [?] Hart to see what was the trouble.
"When he got them 'em straightened out [?] and tried to talk to them 'em. He told them 'em that the Southern men did not fight in front of ladies. But they told Mr. Head[,?] that it didn't hurt us, and that the ladies in New York didn't think anything of a fight, that they were use used to it. [?] they didn't fight any more around us.
"Business was getting worse, and Mr. Head [?] Hart seemed about to go broke . [?] we got another cut be twelve dollars that sent our wages down to $12 a week. And that is when [??] Milly Myers and I went into the tailoring business for our self ourselves. We rented a place on Clayton
Page 15
street over the Dunaway furniture store , And we made good while we were there.
" Then Mr. Head Hart got a big order for knickerbocker pants. He came down to our place and begged us to come back and work for him, at least [?] til until he could get out that order[,?] and to give him time to learn some one else to do the work. He had always been so nice to us[,?] that we went back to help him out. ∥ " We stored our machines and other things, for we knew that we would need them later.
"And in 1922, we rented this place here form Lee Morris. Sally Milly came down here then and went to work as soon as the shope shop was ready. But I stayed on with Mr. Head Hart for several months,# until his orders were all filled and he had some one that could do his work. But as long as he was in business here, [??] would come to our shop and beg us to come back and work for him.
"We have done fairly well. We Made a good living, and during the Hoover administration, we never mad made under fifteen dollars $15 each a week after all exspences expences were paid. And that is how we paid each other, after all bills were paid, we divided the rest between us. We worked together until she Milly died in Feb February 1938. She was taken sick in 1937, and they found that she had a tumor . [?] after that she was never well any more. And part of the time she was not able to work at all.
"But before [?] Milly got sick,# we made all kind of things, mens clothing, ladies dresses, coats, in # fact just everything that came to hand, as well as doing our regular work of repairing and alterations alterating garments. We also made pants for the Cavalry Troops that are stationed here. And I still make them, but [?] that is the only new stuff I take in now. [?] there is no way out of that for they just bring them 'em and leave them 'em.
"We have always tried to be reasonable with our customers,# and not over charge them. And they have been very nice to us, and we have made everything from airplane wings to grave awnings,# so I guess we have
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tried about 'most everything that can be sewed. And I have never had any trouble with collecting, as most of the time [??] paid they pay when they get the work garments.


"We use used to order most all of our supplies from Bruner &Mason Woolen Co. in New York , But since I don't need so much by myself, I get some from the Atlanta supply [??] I buy what I can from the stores here, as they give me their work , and get some things from [Atlanta?] supply houses. I have a girl [?] helps on busy, days, and I pay her two dollares a day. And another one that I do not pay a regular salary Another girl works for me by the hour, as she just works when she can get away form home, and some times that is just for a few hours a day. [?] I like them both, and they seem to like me also.
" Business is not as good now as it use used to be,# but as you see I have all that the work I can do, and make a good living out of it. I do not belong to any [??] organization, and if there is one here in town I have never heard of it. My days work here starts , sometimes when I am very busy around seven in the morning if I am very busy, but most times around eight. I always close around six except on Saturday nights, and then I say open until the stores close,# as I most always have work from then late.
" One day not very long after I had gone to work for Mr. Head Hart I was walking down Broad Street, when who shoud should I [?] meet but the boy that came to my dumb supper. He had been married also, but had lost his wife not so very long after my husband died. And that meeting was the begining of a friendship[,?] that later ended in a happy marriage. He was then, and still is , a great teaser[,?] and enjoys playing a joke jokes on me.
"One night he came down to the house to see me and ask asked me and one of my sisters to go to the show with him. Shows then only cost five 5 and [? cents] 10�. Well when we were almost there, he said that we could go in the show and he would wait on the outside for us, as he did not have enough money for all of us to go in.
" I was embrassed and said that we would just go back home. But
Page 17
he insisted that we go on. I got mad and said that I could pay my own way in the show. But my sister just laughed; it seemed that she could tell that he was teasing, and she told him to just give her[,?] a dime and she would buy peanuts and candy. Oh yes, we went to the show and he went with us ,# but I was so mad that I could not enjoy it. And after we came out,# he bought me a large basket of fruit, I wouldn't have it, but my sister told him to just give it to her show. [?] they both like to tease me now about that show. [?] it was a long time before I would let him come to see again.
"When one of my sisters was fixing to get married , He came walking in and told Mamma that it was going to be a double wedding,# for he was going to marry me,# and that she would lose two daughters instead of one. I told them it was not so,# but he would just laugh and say it was so,# and he had everyone beleiving believing it . [?] even when the preacher came, he told them that we would be next. I was so mad,# but the more I quarreled the more he laughed. But he won out at last,# and in 1913 we were married.
" We have our little home that we bought when we were married,# and we are still living there. We have no children, and there is no one there but just ourselves. But we have a very happy home,# with our chicken[,?] and flowers . yes, we have a lovely flower garden,# but he my husband looks after that, [?] the chickens also, and he takes a great pride in his flowers. He tends the chickens too. I have my shop, and he has his barber shop. And did you know that he is the oldest white barber in Athens. His brother was the first white barber to open a shop here . for all the barbers used to be colored. He learned my husband the barber trade when he was just a boy, and now all the older white barbers are dead,# and he is the oldest one left in the barber business, I mean by that, he has been a barber longer than any of the others.
" We both work every day. I do my house work at night and he tends to his chickens and flowers. We have our church, and we visit our friends and [?] have a lot of company. Sometimes we go to the shows, but we both like reading,# and we read most of the time , after we get through with our
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work at night. And then too, we have our car, and can get out on Sundays when ever we feel like we want to go some place.
" But it has been lonesome here in the shop since my pardner died. And I sure do miss her, for we had worked at the same trade together so long, even before we went in business together. And we never had any disagreements over our work,# for what one done was alright all# right with the other. Our customers have been nice # and we have tried to please them, and I believe that I can say something that not many people in business can say, and especially in this kind of business. And that' is that's this, since I have been in business, I have I've lost less than five dollars, that is that's right, I have less than five dollars on my books from the time that I first opened a shop until now , that has not been paid. [?] I think that is excellent. Do you suppose there is another business in Athens that can show fewer uncollected accounts?
" There was another knock at the door, and in answer to her" come in," a man came in entered and asked her if she could sew some buttons on his the trowsers trousers, that he had on was wearing. Mrs. Davis [Davison?] told him to go in the next room which was the dressing room and that Edd Ed would get his trowsers trousers for [?] The man went in the room and she called Edd, and as he went to get the her to work on. As Ed was bringing the pants, she said" I have three rooms . this is the work room, the next is the dressing room, and the last one is where Edd Ed does all the pressing.
"Edd Ed came in with the man's pants trousers. and she sewed on the suppender suspender buttons[,?] he carried them back to the man and sent the garment back to the customer. And when the man came out, he soon made his appearance asked [????] she said a dime the price off the work. "A dime," she said. He handed her a quarter, and said that he did not have any change; and that he appreciated her doing the work so quick,# and for would the ladies to just get [??] coca colas with the change . and he went out was gone before Mrs. Davis [Daivson?] could give him his change.
"Well ," she said, we will just have a coca cola colas," and ordered them. As we waited for the drinks and I was prepairing prepared to leave. # [?] Mrs. [Davison?] said "I sure am glad that you came in today, but I am I'm sorry that I made you work . the truth is,# I didn't think that you [?] do it. But if you do as good
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a job on this story as you did on the, pants,# you all you'll be alright all right. I said was afraid that I couldn't do that well on the story, even with all the good material [?] had to work with, but [?] would [?] to do the best I could. The drinks came then and [?] [drank?] we enjoyed them, she said I hope that you will you'll come back again to [?] " she said, just stop any time that you come this way, and Edd Ed will have make coffee for us . for he does not doesn't forget that when it it's cold weather. And we have it all the time for our [?] and [?] also when they come by.
I thanked her for the nice story her life history material, and for the very pleasent day and that I had enjoyed it, for it was indeed a in her very friendly shop[.?] and as I went down the stair [?], I knew that I would like to go back again and have another that over a cup of coffee . with her.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 53 of 73
[Mrs. Margaret Davis]
ORIGINAL AND UNEDITED CONTINUITY
(LIFE HISTORY)
GRACE MCCUNE
December 9, 1438
Mrs. Margaret Davis
193 Nacoochee Ave.
Athens, Georgia
As you go up a long flight of steps to the tailor shop, you end up in a long dark hallway, where a light is kept burning all the time, so that visitors and customers can see how to find the doors.
A knock on the door and a very friendly voice said, "come in." The room at the top of the steps is the sewing room, and has two long tables that are used for cutting, and marking clothes for alterations. A long rack at one end of the room was hanging full of clothes that were finished. A smaller table between two large windows had a machine on each side, one was an electric machine, but the other was just the old kind with a foot treadle.
A [heater?] at one side of the room heats up the room, and several chairs were placed around it for visitors as well as customers.
Mrs. Davis is a large, dark headed, and a very pleasant and friendly woman. She was busy with several men from the different dry cleaning places, and they had large bundles of clothes to be [repaired?]. Mrs. Davis asked the visitor to have a seat that she would be through in a few minutes. After the customers were gone, and the Negro boy, Ed, had fixed up the fire, and gone back to the room where he does all the pressing, Mrs. Davis
Page 2
said, "did you think I would never get through with them? It is that way all during the day, but that is where most of the business comes from now, for I don't get as much from the stores as I used to but business is not good as it should be for this time of the year. I have all that I 'can do now, and I don't take but very few things to make since I have been running the shop by myself, for I don't have time.
"But all this is not interesting to you, I know." But when the visitor explained that she would like to get a story from her, she laughed and said, ["I?] do not think that my story would be interesting to anyone, as I guess it is just like most any ones, I have had my troubles and pleasures like most everyone does, but if you care for it, I will do the best I can, if you care to listen while I work, I like to talk, and I do get lonesome by myself, as I do not have any help except on busy days.
"I was born in Clarke County, on my Grandffather Grandfather William Summer's place, November 18, 1887, out near where Princeton is now, in a small two-room log house. When I was still a baby, we moved to the paper mill, now called the Cord Mill, but the old paper mill building is still standing, but in too bad a condition to be used for anything now.
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"My father and Jerome Wallace were the two men that run the paper machines or "enjines" as they called them then. Of course, they had helpers, but one of them had to be on duty all this time. If one of them was sick, or off for any reason, the other one had to stay on the job until the one that was off duty returned. Miss Mag Hale was the only woman that they used in that part of the mill and she counted the paper. It was made in large square sheets ready for the printers.
"Old Man Bishop was the man that run the finishing machine. I have watched them work many a time when I was a child for it was all so interesting to see the [machines?] run. Out from the paper mill was the rag room, where the rags were sortered out and put in different bins. Each color was put into a separate bin to itself. They bought old clothes and rags to make the paper, and all the buttons were cut off and they sure watched out for that, for the button would ruin the machines.
"When I was six years old, I was sent to school. It was not like the schools are now. School then was in the Old Hall, and was all in one room. Miss Sally Ward was the teacher, and we didn't have but one teacher for all the children, and she had about one hundred, all sizes and ages, from six years up, and some of them were
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almost grown. Our books then were the Old Blue Back Speller, [arithmetic?], and geography. We sure had to study, but even at that [we?] had lots fun and good times in that old schoolhouse which in later years was made into a dwelling house, and is, I believe, still standing at this time.
"It was a great thing for the children to work at the paper mill after we were out of school. They were glad to have us to. Our job was sortering out the rags. We enjoyed this work, and they paid us fifty cents (50�) a month, and that was a lots of money to us, but it wouldn't be much to kids these days. People from all 'round sold their old clothes and rags at the paper mill. Many times we found nickles and sometimes dimes in bags of rags. They allowed us to keep the money when we found it that way, and we would buy candy and have a big time.
"And one day, I sure do remember that time, as I think, pleasures and disappointments in our childhood days, are better remembered than anything else, we found a large bag of new clothes, and they were nice ones to dress for women and children, underwear, stockings, and some shirts, we dressed ourselves up, and we put these things aside, for we wanted to keep them. But the very next morning a woman from [?] was out there hunting her clothes. Her maid had sold them and kept the money, and as the old saying goes 'our feathers fell,' for we had to
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give up all our pretty dresses that we had put aside.
"About this time they put in a bag machine to make paper bags. The machine would cut a hundred bags at a time, and was a great curiosity to the folks back then. The bags were folded, and put up in bundles, two hundred bags to a bundle. This was another job that we kids could do. It was fun to do this. We folded half of them one way and half another way, and tied up the bundles.
"They also used jute to make paper, and this was bought in large bales. That was another job for us to [do?], for we could tare the jute up in small pieces to have it ready for the machines. One day we found a lots of paper money in one of the bales of jute, but two of the women that worked there took this money, and said they would have to send it back. But folks said that they kept all the money and bought them a home with it. Of course, I don't know if that was right or not, but we [id?] know that we didn't get any of it.
"Did you know that they made paper out of wood even in those days? Well they did, I don't remember what kind of wood it was, but they ground small sappling into a pulp ready for the paper machines. The paper that was made from wood was a heavy brown paper such as they use for wrapping paper, and was called manila paper.
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"People was paid once a month then for their work, and it was the usual thing then, for them to buy a months supply of provisions at that time at the company store. All the men liked their tobacco, and this was one supply that was not forgotten when groceries were bought. It was something they felt like they could not do without. And kids would slip tobacco out and chew it, the boys especially. One day some of the kids swiped some of their dads tobacco, and told me I would have to hide it for them, and I had better put it some place, where it would not be found. I decided that on the [sills?] in the top of the old well would be the best place. I had to climb to reach the sills, but I made it, and laid the tobacco along the sills. It started to raining that same night and rained for a week. After the rain was over, the kids told me to get their tobacco for them. I went to the old well to get it, the rain had come through the holes in the roof and soaked the tobacco, and it had swelled until it was as thick again as it should have been, and ruined. I almost got a whipping from that crowd of kids, but they chewed it, and of course was sick, every blessed one of them. No, I didn't chew any, for I knew mama would sure tan my hide.
"I had some older sisters and our house was just a gathering place for the young folks. There was a crowd of them there most all the time, and I could get the
Page 7
bigest biggest thrill out of watching and listening to them talk. One night two girls, Jule Lee and Gertrude Richards, came to our house to set a dumb supper. I was just about seven then, and I cried because they put me to bed, for they had these suppers at midnight, just on the stroke of twelve. They started their supper and one of my sisters and Cordellia Noells put on pants and was going to scare them. I could hear them talking, for I wasn't asleep, if I [was?] in bed, and I slipped up and told one of my uncles what they was doing, and it was a disgrace in those days for girls to dress up like boys. So he said he would fix them, and when my sister and the other girl slipped out to go around to the kitchen to scare the other girls, my uncle got after them, and did they holler, but any way it broke up the supper, and I was satisfied.
"Didn't you ever hear about them old time dumb suppers? They were very popular back in them days. That was the way girls found out who their future husband would be. I know it [seems?] funny now, to look back on times as they were then, but after all I think [people?] really enjoyed life more then than they do now. There was not so many places to go, and people were closer together in every way, but I will [try?] to tell you how they cooked the suppers.
"Two girls did the cooking, set the table, and each one used their right hand, everything was done backwards, even to making the bread. They did everything together,
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they only used one hand, and could not speak, not one word from the time they started, until it was over. If they [did?], the spell was broken and no one would come. Everything must be ready just at twelve, the table set for four and also on the table was placed a Bible and a pint bottle. Then the wind was suppose to blow and the [doors?] come open, so that the men could walk in and eat. They [were?] not supposed to speak either just [eat?] and walk out, [if?] they [picked?] up the Bible, then they would make a good husband, but [beware?] of the man that moved the bottle for you would sure get a man that would turn out bad and be a drunkard sure. If no one came into [?], then you was doomed to die an old maid. These [suppers?] were lots of fun, for most times, the girls would set scared and wake everybody in the house up. Oh, yes, they had to be [the?] only two people up in the house, but they were good old days.
"[low?] as it is 'most Christmas time, I'm going to [tell?] you about one Christmas when I was still a little [girl?]. For Christmas then lasted a week, from Christmas [Eve?], 'til New Years Eve. On this Christmas, mama was looking for her half-sister, and family from Alabama to [spend?] Christmas [with?] us. [We?] had never seen them and were looking forward to [that?] visit, and was having a big [supper?] on Christmas Eve night, also a dance. We kids were just on tip toes, so excited, just couldn't wait. Of course, we were also looking for Santa [Claus?].
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Our tree was all ready. Mama had killed turkeys, chickens, and had cooked cakes and pies for two weeks. But at last they came, now child, I am going to tell you this, just as I remember it, and I / don't know if you will care to use it or not, but we have had many laughs over this Christmas, so many years ago. My aunt and uncle got here several [days?] before the children did. They did not have enough money for all them to ride. So they started the children on days before they left, walking part of the way and riding most of the way with some of their friends. The two girls and one boy got in on Christmas Eve, and if they wasn't a sight, one of the girls weighed over two hundred pounds, and had walked the soles off her shoes.
"All of our folks and lots of our friends were there, [and?] one of mama's [?], who had married a man named [Stencile?], also one of my uncles and his daughter. They were to furnish the music for the dane dance, for they both played fiddles. Everything was cleared out of two rooms for dancing. [About?] three o'clock in the [afternoon?], the young folks started the dance. We kids were happy for we could watch them long as we wanted, didn't have to go to bed on Christmas.
"The older women were busy cooking and getting the supper [ready?], [everybody?] [was?] [having?] good time, the man calling for the dance would holler, 'swing your partner.'
Page 10
Oh, it was a grand time, and yet happy as we were, we kids were so interested in the fat girl from Alabama, that we stayed pretty close around her. She did not seem to want to dance, and we could not understand that. When we saw one of the young men start toward her, we just had to hear what he said. He asked her if she would dance the next set with [him?]. We held our breath for her answer, and this is what she said, 'I had [jest?] as leif lief dance with you as anybody else, but I has walked all the way from Alabamy to see Aunt Sis, and am too tired and gaulded galleded from walking to dance with anybody.
"About five o'clock the supper started, for there was eight tables full, besides the kids like me. [We?] had to [wait?] until the grown folks had all [eat?] before we were [allowed?] to go to the table. And how we watched that table. The man Stencile went to the first table, and , Honey , that man stayed there with all eight tables. I never have seen no one person eat as much in all my life. Of course, there was plenty to eat, but we was so afraid that he would eat it all, and as the last table finished eating, [he?] reached over and took the last piece of turkey. I never wanted to say something as bad as I did then, but I knew better, and with all we had to eat, we couldn't enjoy it for thinking of that last piece of turkey.
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"The dance [lasted?] all night. Of course, we kids had to give it up and go to bed after midnight, but we were up for the breakfast early on [Christmas?] morning and to see what Santa had left. There was not so many things for children to get then, as they have now, but we got many nice things. When it was time for dinner, mama put some turkey aside for us kids, and I guess it was a good thing for [Stancile?] was there. But that was the way we spent our Christmas then, [eating?] and dancing, and parties all through the week. But after New Years it was all over, and it was back to school and work.
"I had just about finished school there when the old Paper Mill closed down. We moved to Athens, near the old ['?]check['?], which is on Broad Street. We went to work in the mill. I still remember that old mill very well. It had large [posts?] all through it. One day my sister was leaning against one of these post resting. One of the women saw her, and thinking that she would have some fun, she yelled out at her to move quick. It scared my sister, and she jumped catching her hair on a nail in the post, and pulled a handful of her hair out. Of course everybody laughed, but it made me so mad, I hit her so hard that she fell in the floor. We were new folks in the settlement, and were in for a lot of teasing, but [after?] that day they did not tease us any more. We were soon well satisfied
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there, and had the same good times there as we did in our old home.
"Just when I was thinking that I was [grown?], I was visiting my sister, and it was there that I met my present husband. He came to see my brother-in-law, and had the prettiest horse and [buggy?]. He carried me to ride, but we just went down the road not far enough to even get out of sight of the house, but even at that mama heard about it. She didn't believe much in whipping, but she sure could find other ways of punishing, and just for that little short ride, I had to stay home for three long months. I mean I was not even allowed to go to [church?] and Sundayschool.
"I had a girl friend that I used to spend the night with real often, and she would visit me also. One night when I was spending the night with her, her father and mother were off visiting their people and there was just the children at home. Of course, she had brothers and sisters much older than we were, but we decided that when everybody got to sleep that we would get up and set us a dumb supper, for we had always wanted to, and they would tell us that we were too little. Sure enough, after everybody was in bed, we got up, yes we were scared, but was just going to show them that we could do it as well as they, and we did get the supper ready. We didn't even forget the bottle and
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Bible. Two boys that knew us had been fishing and was on their way home, seeing the light in the kitchen, they thought someone was sick, and decided they had better stop and see if [there?] was anything that they could do, but when they saw us through the window, and knew what we were doing, they just pushed opened the door, walked in, [picked?] up the bottle and walked out. [Well?], we were scared stiff, couldn't move or speak, for sometime, but when we did get to where we could yell it wasn't long until everything in the house was up. That was my first and only time to try to set a dumb supper, but strange as it may seem, one of those boys is now my husband, and my girl [friend?] married the other one.
"I was married the first time when I was just about sixteen. [We?] used to have big pionies, everybody would go, and [we "?] in tally-hos filled with straw. There was most times a ball game, after we had finished dinner. That is where I met my first husband, at one of these picnic. It was Just a short time after we met, that we went with a large crowd of boys and girls to the old Beaverdam Church to one of their footwashings. After that was over we went over to the Jim Smith place and one of the guards showed us all around. There was so many prisoners there, some crippled up in different ways, some with one arm, and some had one leg gone, but they all had to work. It was the way on that page 11 me and one of my sisters to go with him to the show. In thise days it didn't cost but five and ten cents to
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Frank asked me to [marry?] him, and in about three months we were [married?].
"We went to housekeeping, and lived a very happy life until he died in 1907. After he passed away, I went back home to stay with mama and daddy, but I was blue and discouraged. I decided that I would go to work, and see if that would help me. I went to work in the Climax Hosiery mill, and worked there for [several?] months.
"Mr. Head [started?] a tailor shop in town and I went to work for him in 1908. I had not ever done any of this kind of work then and I don't think any of the others had either. But he got two Bohemians to learn us the tailor trade, and that is how I learned to be a tailor. I worked there for five years when I went into business with Mrs. Sally Baughoum.
"One day as I was walking up Broad Street who should I meet, but the boy that come to my dumb supper. He had married also, but he had lost his wife, not so very long after my husband died, and that meeting was the beginning of a friendship that later ended in marriage. He was then, and still is a great teaser. He enjoys playing jokes on me. One night he came down to see me and asked me and one of my sisters to go to the show with him. Shows were only five and ten cents then. Well, when we were almost there, he told us, that
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we could go in and that he would wait on the outside, as he did not have enough money for all of us.
"I was [embarrassed?] and said we would just go back home. He insisted that we go on, but I got [mad?] and told him that I could pay my own way. My sister just laughed, it seemed as if she could tell that he was teasing. So she told him to just give her her dime, and she would buy peanuts and candy. We went on to the show. Oh, yes, he went too, but I was so mad, I couldn't enjoy it. He and my sister still tease me about going to the picture show, but I wouldn't let him come to see me again for a long time after that. One night when one of my sisters was fixing to get [married?], he came walking in, told mama that it would be a double wedding for he was going to marry me that night also. I [quarreled?] and fussed, told them that it wasn't so, that I did not ever intend to marry him, but the more I fussed, the more he laughed. He had everybody there [believing?] him, until the wedding was over. But he won out and in 1913 we were married.
"[He?] has his [barber?] shop, and I have my tailor shop. [We?] have no children, no one but ourselves. When we married we bought a home on Nacoochee ave., and we are still living there. [We?] have a nice little home, and some /lovely flowers but he does most of the work with them.
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I don't have much time to work at anything at home.
Mrs. [Baughoum?] and I went into business upstairs on Clayton [Street?], but in a short time we moved down here on Jackson Street, and have been here ever since. I have run the shop by myself since Sally passed away last year. But it is lonesome without her, for we were together so long. I have three rooms, this is my work room, and the next room is the dressing room. There is a large mirror, and a table and some chairs in there, and sometimes people come in and wait in there, while I fix their clothes. The last room is the pressing room, and [d?] looks after that for me. I don't know hardly what I would do without [d?]. He has been with me so long that he knows just how I want everything done.
"I know that I have not been able to tell you anything that will be of enough interest for you to get a story out of, but I do hope that it will help you some. I am glad that you came to see me, and come back again.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 54 of 73
[Mrs. Marguerite R. Thomas]
Written by,
Mabel V. Jones,
307 First Avenue
Rome, Georgia.
[Home?], Georgia,
February 16, 1939
(Mrs.) Marguerite R. Thomas,
West Seventh Street, Rome, Ga.
Recreational Center
Gladys Metcalf, although reared without a mother, lived a life of ease and indulgence in her early youth. Her father commanded a salary quite adequate to care for his two daughters, and to assist his aged mother and father, who, in turn, cared for his two motherless girls, indulging them rather more than was necessary, or quite good for their character building, as they considered that life was to be ladled out to them on a golden platter, at their command.
Gladys attended boarding school, where she graduated with honors. She is quite an artist, and also writes poetry. While she has never taken any lessons in art, she draws quits well, and her poems, which she writes on all occasions, and on many subjests, but mostly about children, are quite worthy of mention, and Good Housekeeping and other magazines of note have told her they considered then good, but not quite in line for their magazines. She in very persistent, and keeps hoping to be able to let them published some day. Below is given one which she wrote one evening, after having received a scare over a misadventure of one of the boys:
THE WORKING MOTHER's PRAYER.
Be with my little boys, dear God,, I pray;
I must leave them with You here again today--
Those ever-racing, reckless little feet---
Go with them when they chase across the street
To search for balls that have bounced out of sight
Please, God, stay here 'til I get home tonight!
Four little hands, God, on two little boys
Choose danger often when they choose their toys---
Those jagged, rusty cans, the broken jars
That by child-magic turn to trains and cars,
The many things they handle thoughtlessly
Please keep those four hands safe today for me!
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I know You're busy God, but the design
Of all the Universe seems working fine
And running smoothly, so You won't forget
My boys---They are such little fellows yet,
And You're so wise, God, You must surely know
How very anxious mothers' thoughts can grow.
And then, when work is through and I can come
Back where my heart has been all day--at home--
In thanks to You, I'll say on bended knee,
"Dear God, You've been so very good to me;
--And, even though they're safe within my [sight?]--
"Please, God, stay with us through the night."
Married at an early age, not realising that the man she married was irresponsible, or rather, not taking the matter into consideration as of any importance whatsoever, she found several years of her life rather stormy. Although her husband was quite faithful to her, and was kind and pleasant at home, a willing worker, and a pleasant companion, without the assistance of her husband's people, and sometimes that of her own father, she would have had very hard rows, as he could not resist the temptation to drink, and money in his pocket meant self indulgence to such an extent that the family needs were neglected.
Of a very alert mind, having come of a family who possessed unusually bright minds, and were outstanding in literary and legal professions, she was yet without any experience as to ways and means of making money for herself and her two small boys, of whom she is very proud. The welfare of her children is the most important interest in life to her, and no sacrifice is too great to make for them.
her disposition is pleasant, and although her hair is "red", the usual application of a fiery temper supposed to accompany it fails to materialize, as she is calm and reasonable in all her dealings, and her patience with her children is really rare.
Page 3
After trying various places for {?} in which she had no experience, she was finally able to secure employment through the Government on a .f. A. Project, being placed in the office of the Recreational Center. When first entering the office she had no experience whatsoever, except that she had learned to type on a borrowed machine, used at home. Her work was not so hard and her employer kind and helpful, and she learned very quickly, and is now quite able to handle all matters pertaining to her work without difficulty. She is now studying short-hand, alone, having secured a manual and learned the fundamentals of the study, and taking as much dictation as possible in her routine work.
Even though Gladys, all of her husband's people, and all of his friends (for he has a charming personality and makes friends easily) tried to help him overcome his drinking, he allowed the habit to grow, and it eventually affected his disposition, his ability to work, and life became a nightmare of worry, fear and uncertainty. Finally, realising that it was unfair to her children, to her mother-in-law, who was loyally standing by to help her in her fight to care for her children, and to herself, one secured a divorce. Still caring deeply for him, not only as her husband and the father of her children, but as a diseased, rather than a self-indulged person, she carries the load of maintaining the home, educating her boys and giving them the high ideals of a Christian home, with chin up, and a smile for all, although an {acne?} is deep in her heart.
Her greatest burden is having the children ask for their "daddy". Their father, though very weak, was devoted to his family, and was never too busy to build a toy for his boys, or show them the rules of a game, or enter their play with them. He was always a "pal" to his sons, and if he is
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never able to be with them again, they will always treasure the memory of their father, as they only saw his gentleness, and were protected from the unpleasantness that went with the life he was living.
Through her work she has "been able to secure rooms for herself, her mother-in-law and her children at a much cheaper rental than she could otherwise get it, being near the playground, and are under the supervision of a very able director, who is also a friend of Gladys. The environment of her home is not of the standard to which she is accustomed, or that she desires, as the children are thrown with children of illiterate classes to some extent, and they quite easily acquire their [verucular?] of speech, and other {manneriame?} Billy, the younger son, only six years old, in his baby days used very correct English, very unusual to a child of his years. Since moving into this community, he has adopted the Manner of speech of the children he plays with, [?] few days ago, the playground being closed, as the leaders had gone home, some children came to the door. Billy, in a very courteous manner, went to the door and said: "The playground is closed, Miss Collock has already "came and went."
The mother often worries lest, by trying to give them the material things they need, she gives them an environment that will be detrimental to their character building; then, she will try to figure that the best in them will develop with hardships, and she usually stays "on the fence as to whether she is right or wrong."
For a person who has had no hardships in youth, and nothing to bring out the steel in her character during her early days, Gladys has developed a wonderful strength of endurance, and with it all she carries a pleasantness that is rather contagious to those with whom she comes in contact. (The usual remark that is made when speaking of her is that she is "trustworthy" or "good")
Page 5
The older boy, "Sonny, who is nearly ten years old, is very large for his age, and is considered by anyone who doesn't know his age, to be about twelve or fourteen. He is larger than some of the fourteen year old boys who are his associates. His mind is very bright, and he masters his studies easily. During the first three years of school, he was an honor pupil almost every month, unless kept out by illness. Since moving to the present location, although his marks are high, his average being 95.45 to 94.62, he has not been able to attain the honor roll. His mother will be elated the first of the month, being confident that he will make it this month," and when the card comes at the end of the month with one or two demerits, she slumps, for her disposition is to be either in the heights or the depths - there is no middle course. After talking the matter over with the teachers in that ward, she has been advised that it is hard for any boy to make the honor roll in this particular grade, as a certain element is in the ascendent, which demoralises the whole grade, and "Sonny" is not perfect - just a boy. This month he made "A" on every subject, 100 in attendance and 99 in deportment. A note from the teacher said: "This beautiful card spoiled by chewing gum" and it was learned that on the last day, "Sonny" had a mouth full (almost a whole package) of gum, and did not try to keep the teacher from seeing it, but rather displayed it, so the general conclusion is that he is afraid of being called a "sissy" by the boys in the grade, and deliberately failed to make the honor roll.
Billy is not quite so bright in his studies; it is harder for him to grasp a subject, or else he is too energetic (or nervous) to concentrate. He was rather handicapped in starting out, as his books did not come and the other classes were ahead of him and he could not catch up easily; then too, his teacher said he was very sensitive, and it is noted in the home that his feelings can be hurt very easily. He is bright, small of status, white-haired
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and freckled faced, with his front teeth wideapart; in fact, a freckled faced boy, shown on a magazine cover.
The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are very close companions; each striving at all times to do something that will help the other, and praise for the other being constantly given. It is quite unusual to find such companionship existing between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. The work of the home is carried on by each of them, the grandmother caring for the home and the children while the mother works, she doing quite a lot of the work at home after her office hours. Gladys prepares breakfast in the morning, dressed the children for school, prepares their lunch, and does as much as possible to "clean house" before she leaves, as the grandmother does not rest well at night, and sleeps late. The grandmother prepares the dinner, sews, and sometimes does the washing on the washing machine that is furnished by the Community Chest, but as it is rather hard for her, and she is susceptible to cold, Gladys does much of this work after she returns at night. The ironing and other work is divided between them, the one having the most leisure doing the job.
On Saturday, most of the house-cleaning in done, and everything laid aside for Sunday morning, when Gladys dresses the two children and herself for Sunday school and church, which is missed only on the {rarest?} occasions, and the children consider it a part of their weekly to attend; Sunday school is just as essential to them as day school, and they carry their Bibles to reach the standard of excellence. When the meals are served, Grace is always said at the table by "Sonny" but Billy will not allow anyone to begin eating until it is over.
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The general health of the family is good. The children have had the usual ailments of measles, mumps, sometimes tonsilitis in a light form. At this time Sonny has the mumps, but is getting along nicely, and except for being out of school, it is of little consequence. The grandmother had a very serious throat infection about a year ago, but her sister took her to the hospital for treatment, taking care of the expenses entailed. She was fed through the veins for a week. She recuperated from this illness, but is not very strong. She has other children who are in much better circumstanes financially, who could give her every care and attention, and are willing and anxious to do so, but she feels that she can be of use to Gladys and her children, and will not leave her to go to her own children to live.
The diet for the family is varied, The main item on the menu being milk and butter. The grandmother and smaller son, Billy, both depend almost entirely upon milk as a diet. Sometimes Billy will eat nothing but milk and bread. About three years ago the situation was rather acute, as the family budget would not allow for a sufficient amount of milk for the family. An aunt bought a cow, payinh $5.00 for her, snd found her to be a five-gallon a day cow, when properly fed. At the present time they are unable to keep her at home, as there in no barn at the Recreational Center, where they are now living, so a man in the country is feeding and caring for her, and giving the family a gallon of sweet milk per day, which cares for the situation very nicely. They have been offered a nice sum for the cow, but are unwilling to sell her. They also have grown vegetables quite often and most of the time they keep a small garden, with turnip greens, collards, onions and lettuce. At this they are minus the garden, also, but they manage to get the
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vegetables cheaply. They also serve dried beans, butter beans and peas often. Very little meat is used, although the grandmother and smaller grandson are great "meat eaters."
The main recreation, or diversion, for Gladys is the association with her husband's brother and his wife. The two families have always been very close, and now they spend each week-end together. One Saturday and Sunday will be spent at the home of Gladys, and the next week-end with the brother-in-law and sister-in-law; each carries a small supply of groceries to help care for the week-end meals, without expense to the other. They all attend Sunday school and church on Sunday mornings.
The home is rather hard to describe. It was at one time a home for under-priviledged children, but the house has been abandoned and a new one built. The old building was taken over by the local sponsors as a recreational center for the children in this district. They also installed a washing machine for the benefit of the women in that community. A janitor is kept to keep a fire and hot water for the use of the women in their washing. Each person is allowed to use the machine, wlth hot and cold water, one hour, for a dime. The grandmother looks after the engagements and collects for the use of the machine, which amount is turned in to the sponsors for the partial up-keep of the machine. The old home is large, and from the outside looks very nice, setting back from the street, with a large yard, with big cedar trees surrounding. The walls are bad, the plaster being broken in many places, the floors sunken, and the room which the use is badly lighted. They have to burn electric lights all day, but anything over the dollar minimum they pay is provided by the sponsors. They furnish their own fuel, but the house rent is given them for the care of the home and services rendered. The greatest inconvenience is the bedroom
Page 9
facilities, all having to sleep in one room, but with plenty of ventilation. They have a nice, new, gas stove, but their quarters are too small to care for their furniture, having the use of only two rooms (although they have access to a large sun parlor, formerly a glassed-in sleeping porch for the children at the Open Door) with furniture for five. They have placed their piano in the recreational hall for the supervisors to use in their plays; their machine in the sun parlor, where the leaders sometimes make clothes for needy children in the community; their dining table is also in the sun parlor, and magazines and other articles are kept on this, and in this way they are well cared for.
Insurance is kept on all the family. The mother-in-law's insurance is kept paid by her sister, and Gladys keeps small policies on both the children and herself, also one on her former husband, knowing that if misfortune should overtake him the family would have to meet the expenses.
Gladys is very loyal to the administration, feeling that she in very fortunate to live in a country where the leaders are interested in the masses to the extent that our government is, and is confident that now, that she has had some experience in the business world, she will be able to carry on.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 55 of 73
[Mrs. Whelchel]
LIFE HISTORY
Subject:
Mrs. Sam E. Whelchel,
1391 Miller Reed Ave., SE,
Atlanta, Georgia
Mrs. Whelchel might be described as "good stable peasant stock". "Reliable" would express her in a word. She is tall, large-boned, and has a definite tendency toward "heftiness". Though her uncorrected figure is well under control at present, one can see her firmly-bulging calves are but a prelude to ultimate general massiveness.
We found her seated in a rocker on the front porch, comb in hand, finger-waving the hare of her little girl. On the banister beside here was a glass of water which she occasionally dipped the comb. With every movement of her body the chair teeter-tottered over the warped floor boards.
The house itself was a weather-beaten frame bungalow painted green and trimmed in white. It looked none too substantial and the disproportionately large gable that formed the roof of the porch seemed to put a threatening strain upon the slender two-by-four posts that supported it.
"Mrs. Whelchel pretended to a great show of self-disparagement when we explained our visit. "Lord, what's there to write about me?" But at the same time she obviously was pleased that we had chosen her and was just a bit fearful that we might take her mild deprecations too seriously. "Well, what do you want to know?" We suggested that she tell us about her family.
Page 2
"Well, my husband works over there at the Chevrolet plant." We had seen Sam Whelchel down at the union office. He was a great hulking figure of a man, full of laughter, and much like a big overgrown boy despite the premature grayness of his hair. "He unloads the supplies at the docks and before that he was a buffer. A buffer holds the fenders up against a wheel covered with some soft fuzzy stuff and polishes off the scratches. No, they don't do that anymore. I don't know why; maybe they jest don't care about the scratches.
"Sam's workin' five days a week now. He gets eighty cents an hour and works forty hours a week. But it's seasonal work, y'know. They're going full blast now because the new model's out, but he was off for three months this summer and jest went back in September. Yes, you sure do get behind when there's a layoff. I don't care how long he's been working, if he's laid off for just two weeks it ruins you. Oh, it's bad.
But we're gettin' by. We got two boarders, a couple of men who work over at the plant. We used to rent out that other side of the house; you see there's a separate door. But we jest got these two men now. Yeah, it helps a lot. We tried to make some money on chickens but we jest about broke even - maybe a little more, I don't know. We had about fifty, but we haven't got none now. Sold 'em and ate 'em. We lost twenty, but the eggs from the others made up for it.
"We got a cow too. And a calf. Oh, sometimes I sell some milk, but we nearly use it all. There's a lady up the street that sends down for some and if I got it I'll let her
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have it, but if I haven't I don't. Sam says he wants to get rid of the cow, but I tell him it don't cost as much to feed her as it would to buy all the milk we need. Why I'd have to buy four quarts of milk a day and that'd be more'n she costs us. I tell Sam two quarts of milk would pay for her feed. We're gonna kill the calf, though, in a couple of weeks so's we'll have some meat.
"We've got three children. This is Tommy-Ann; she's the youngest, two years old. That's Bobby in the yard; he's four."
The children had fairly nice features. They were dressed in ordinary play clothes that were undeniably soiled, but no more so than could be expected. Bobby's haircut was of the soup-bowl fashion a thick growth abruptly ending at close-shaven temples and rounded across the back of the head. His left arm was heavily swathed in gauze and supported in a sling. His mother's voice was full of compassion as she explained, "He broke it last week. He was goin' down the back steps and fell all the way. It jest dangled, poor little thing."
"Phillips six; he's the oldest. He jest took the lunches down to his pa and the boarders. Yes, I send 'em down to the union office and they come over from the plant and eat 'em there. It's easier on me that way than if I was to put up their lunches in the mornin'. I don't have to get up so early. If I had to fix 'em in the morning I'd have to get up at five o'clock.
"No, we wasn't born in Atlanta. My home's in Banks County and Sam was raised in Jackson County. Oh, I don't know when
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Sam first come to Atlanta. It was years ago. And then he went through all the states round Georgia working on one job or another. But I met him here and we were married here. I told him he went all around in a circle and come right back here to find me. No, he didn't have much education. He went to high school all right. I don't know jest how far he went, but he didn't go through it. He jest taught himself his jobs.
Right after I met him he go on as a lineman for the telephone company. Before that he was - what do you call it? - you know, fixed furniture up at the Western Union office here. Yeah, that's it, a refinisher.
"Yeah, I finished high school. I went to Piedmont High School up at [Demorest?], Georgia. Now don't put that Piedmont College; I wisht it was. I finished in two years - I had had one year before that - and I got five more points than I needed to graduate. The children? Well, I jest hope we can send 'em through high school. 'Course if any of 'em shows any special talent, we'll try to give 'em some kind of training.
Maybe a business school or somethin'."
A visit from the insurance collector turned the conversation in that direction. "Yes, we got two policies on the children - two on each of 'em I mean. We're trying to catch up now. We hadn't been paying none since December. Sam comes under the group insurance at the plant.
Yes, there's a doctor there too, and they've got a nurse that comes around. She's nice, but I don't bother with her much. Whenever the children're sick I call a doctor. She came around when they had the measles, though, and mopped their throats and helped with their
Page 5
medicine. It was nice too when I came back from the hospital when Tommy-Ann was born. She made regular visits."
"Yes, we own the house. There's seven rooms. Sam's pa built us a sleepin' porch. We used to live up by the school, back over there on the hill. The lady what owned the house told us we could rent it for fifteen dollars a month for a year, but we hadn't been there six months before she told us she was gonna raise it to twenty-two-fifty in two weeks. There's somethin' I want to tell you. I don't know whether you're interested or not, but - - - we used to have a car but we ain't got it now. When that woman raised the rent we jest didn't like it. It wasn't so much the money - - 'course that meant somethin' too - but we jest didn't like her doing us that way after a-tellin' us we could have it for a year. Well, we'd been wantin' to buy a house so I jest talked to Sam about it and he figured it was time to do it too. But I said there was one thing sure - we couldn't buy a house and have a car too. You jest can't buy gasoline and have a house too. Sam thought about that and then he said, 'Well, I can't live in a car, so I'll let the car go and get me a house we can sleep in.' So we went down to see the real estate man and got a list of places they had for sale. And do you know, this is the first place we come to and I like it. 'Course we looked at some others, but I liked this one. The yard was nothin' but red gullies then, but it was near the plant, so we got a FHA loan and started the payments. In a little while now we'll jest be paying nine-fifty a month on it. Sam fixed up the yard. There used to be steps here in the middle of the porch, but he tore 'em down. He dragged those cement steps up from the walk and put 'em there at the side of the porch.
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We like it better that way, it's shorter across the yard."
We asked if we might go through the house and she agreed quickly, surprisingly enough without any of the expected apologies for the looks of things.
The living room was small and, although sparsely furnished, seemed overcrowded. There were three chairs, two of which were rockers dragged in from the front porch to protect them from the winter weather. There were also three tables, two of the small half-circle type. On each of these was a vase of dwarf chrysanthemums crawling with ants. On the lower shelf of one was a large brilliantly-colored glass pumpkin. The bigger table held a 13-inch world-globe, made in the modern manner with brown oceans and gray continents. Mrs. Whelchel beamed, "I was hopin' you'd ask me about that. We got it with a set of books Sam's buying for the children. It's the Book of Knowledge. Oh, the set costs eighty dollars and we'll have to pay four dollars a month forever. We couldn't afford it but Sam had been wantin' to get 'em some sort o' books and the man jest came at the right time, so Sam said he'd go ahead and do it. We could have got a shelf for the books instead of a globe, but we decided on a globe."
The floor was covered with a cheap linoleum square patterned in flowers predominantly red. Several tin cans and a battered coal-bucket holding planted geraniums, ferns, and [coleas?] were ranged along the baseboards, obviously brought in to protect them from impending frosts.
The remainder of the floor was littered with children's toys, papers, and cardboard boxes.
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The walls were in a sad state, being of bare plaster poorly applied and badly cracked. "We painted the walls when we first moved in. They don't look it now, but we did." They were, however, clean in comparison with the dirty bedraggled net curtains which sagged unevenly at the windows. In two corners of the room hung what-not shelves holding porcelain cats and dogs and a "Donald Duck", a pine cone turkey, and other knick-knacks from the five-and-ten stores.
But the chief architectural feature of the room, which held and appalled the eye, was a large double-decked mantelpiece, backed with a broken mirror. It's shelves were littered with various objects; a picture of the two older children, a tumbler from which dangled several strands of wandering-jew, a red statuette of a dog, an empty aquarium, and, on the upper shelf well out of reach, a Bible. Leaning against the mirror was a picture of several butterflies hovering above a clump of reeds. Highly colored, they reflected light in a manner which, though gaudily real, was nevertheless peculiarly metallic. We had noticed the same quality in a smaller picture of a ship which hung on the wall.
"I did 'em," said Mrs. Whelchel, smiling broadly and quite pleased with herself. "We been studying how to make them at our Home Arts Class.
Now, it don't cost nothin' except for the materials. It's a WPA class and we meet up at the school. Our Women's Auxiliary of the Auto Worker's Union has a Home Arts Committee and I'm chairman of it. We used to have the class down at the union hall, but that room's so dark and you can't heat it well and it seems like the men want it all the time, so's we asked the Parent-Teacher Association
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if we could meet at the school and they said yes. We have classes twice a week from ten to one in the mornings. I haven't missed but one and I sure hated that, but there's so much to do, what with the children and the housekeeping and the Auxiliary. And tonight I've got to go to a quiltin' party. Monday night we're giving a supper here to demonstrate a set of aluminum-ware that Sam and I are trying to sell some of. We have to have eight couples, the company won't let us do it for less.
We went into what might be called a dining-room, but the incongruous furnishings indicated that it served a number of purposes. There was a green drop-leaf table toward one side of the room, and, by the window, a smaller table such as children use for their play-parties. "Sam's pa made that for the children. The other table isn't big enough for all of us." Placed in the middle of the room, so that we had to weave our way through, were an electric washing machine and an electric ironer. In one corner was a massive electric refrigerator with an old-model portable radio perched atop it. We remarked on these conveniences. "Yes, I couldn't do without 'em. There's always so much washing', and that ironer will do Sam's pants jest perfect. We sure do like that frigidaire. Sam says we'll never go back to a ice-box, no matter what else we give up." A negro maid was shoving the furniture around in an effort to scrub the floor. "She lives here. We got a back room for her." Out of earshot in the bedroom she continued: "I've been trying to find a white girl to take her place, since we want her to live right here in the house, but you can't find a good white girl for that sorta work."
Page 9
The bedroom was that of the boarders. The twin beds were neatly mad and covered with yellow candlewick spreads. "I make those too, but I didn't make those. I make all our clothes, even Sam's workshirts." She was wearing one of her own home-made garments, an olive-green cotton dress with cherry-red buttons. Although over-done with too many gores and pleats it was excellently sewn, with fine-stitched seams, cuffs, and hem.
She brought out some more of the pictures she had made. They were principally flower and bird designs, traced and painted in transparent colors directly on the glass. "It's called 'Gypsy-glaze' painting," she explained. "You see, I put this gold or silver paper behind them and......" Her voice trailed off as she became absorbed in the effect thus produced. "The silver's better," she decided, "...the gold kills the green."
Taking advantage of her preoccupation, we made observations of the room. The one window afforded little light, so that the ever-present wall cracks did not show up so startlingly. In one corner was a table well hidden under its load of newspapers, union sheets, and Grier and Swamp-Root almanacs. Across the room in another corner was a two-doored wardrobe, flimsily constructed of some light-weight wood and stained a bad mahogany. Directly under the window was a comparatively modern foot-pedal sewing machine. "Yes, I sew and do all sorts of things in here in the daytime. The men don't cared; they only want it at night." Their further indifference to the niceties of good housekeeping was indicated by the state of the mantelpiece. It was literally piled with trash; soiled handkerchiefs, wadded sheets of paper, an overturned glass from which spilled several
Page 10
stubby pencils, two small tin boxes, and a large cardboard match box so piled with cigar and cigarette butts, charred matchsticks, and ashes that they overflowed onto the mantel and even down upon the hearth.
We noticed the nice gas heater in front of the grate and recalled a similar one we had seen in the living room. "Oh, we find it cheaper than any other heat. Yes, much cheaper than coal. We've got three of 'em. They keep the house plenty warm. Of course in real bitter cold weather.....but then nothin's no good then." We remembered the holes we'd observed in the dining-room floor, clean-out right through the linoleum as if for pipes, but we wondered about their being bored in the middle of the room. Of course the cold air rushed in through them and they should have at least been plugged, but at the time the Negro maid was using them as drains for her scrub-water.
The other front room, which opened through a separate door onto the porch, was merely a catch-all for odds and ends of furniture, rags, newspapers, broken toys, and empty picture frames. Placed in a "corner", but actually well-nigh filling the small room, was an old fashioned iron-framed bed, its bare mattress lying askew and drooping down to the floor. Piled upon this was the slats and side-boards from yet another bed. Its head and foot-pieces, over-bearing paneled affairs of dark-stained oak, were jammed up against the front door. The springs, originally stacked along side them, had slid comfortably to the floor, thereby pushing the Books of Knowledge, still encased in their shipping crate, half under a pile of
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discarded clothing. The marks of the avalanching springs were scored deeply in the plaster, adding their scars to those of the omnipresent cracks. Mrs. Whelchel was at perfect ease among the confusion. She even managed a sentimental touch. "That bed," she said, "is the only thing Sam's got of his mother's. We did have Bobby and Tommy-Ann usin' it out on the sleeping porch until he broke his arm, but we were afraid they'd bump each other, so we put it in here and gave him another baby-bed."
She led us back through the house and out onto the sleeping porch. She was obviously very proud this and was pleased with our praise.
It was well-constructed in an ell-shape. It was all of white pine, unpainted, and still smelling freshly resinous. But like the rest of the rooms, this, too, was over-crowded and disordered, decorative arrangements being completely sacrificed for lazy convenience. In the main part of the room were two baby-beds and a large one. A third baby-bed stood in the "ell" extension, and beyond this, it's white enamel surface gleaming in the sun, was a huge automatic water-heater.
"And here's the bathroom," Mrs. Whelchel was saying, leading us into a narrow partitioned cubby-hole which housed the commode and a cemented shower. "When we bought the place it didn't have no bath and the toilet was just a lean-to built on the back of the house. One of the first things Sam did was to install the toilet and then we fixed up the shower. We don't like a bathtub."
On our way back to the living room we passed through the
Page 12
kitchen. In a word, it was messy. Here plaster had completely given up the struggle and had fallen off in great slabs exposing the naked lathes. A few small hairy chunks still clung desperately and threatened any minute to fall into the sink which was already piled with dirty pans and dishes and [?] of water-soaked bread. On the table were sticky knives and spoons where three children had but recently helped themselves to peanut-butter and jelly. In strange contrast to the otherwise disreputable furnishings was the new white "modernistic" gas stove.
"Oh, nothin's all paid for, but we pay a little each week and if Sam don't get laid off it'll be ours some day."
This brought us back to the subject of her husband's job and, seated again in the front room, Mrs. Whelchel went on talking, her fingers busily crocheting a coaster. "Things was bad over at the plant before they got the union started. Sam's been with 'em for six years next February and he knows. Oh, they weren't as bad as some places I've heard about, but until they got the union the men had to do pretty much what they told 'em. You know the strike was in 1935. Yes, it was excitin' all right. Sam slep' in the plant six nights. He slep' in the tire racks. You know they're two decks and ever time the man up above turned over Sam says all the dirt and stuff would fall in his face and eyes.
Yes, we had the Women's Auxiliary then and we run a kitchen down at the office - the union office. We packed baskets of groceries for the families that didn't have anything to eat and we made
Page 13
clothes for the children. Dues? Well, I only pay a quarter a month for the Auxiliary and sometimes I don't think its worth that, but Sam has to pay a dollar-and-a-quarter to the men's union. He said something about the quarter being a assessment for the charity work or somethin'.
Oh, yes, I think the union's all right; it's good. They couldn't do without it now. 'Course they have all their squabbles 'n everything, and they fight among theyselves, but Sam says it's a real [pertection?]."
"Well, if you must, but come back to see us again. Come out Monday night for the supper if you can. Sam and I'll be glad to have you.
Don't know as I've really told you anything, but you're welcome to it. Goodbye. Yes, goodbye, goodbye."
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 56 of 73
[My Ups and Downs]
MY UP's AND DOWN's
Written By:
Mrs. Ina B. Hawkes
Research Field Worker
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
Edited By:
Mrs. Maggie B. Freeman
Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
WPA Area -6
October 9, 1939
September 14, 1939
[Kert Shorrow?] (Negro)
Route # 1
Athens, Georgia
Mrs. Ina B. Hawkes MY UP's AND DOWN's
It was just a small Negro shanty, just off the highway. I went up to the front door. I noticed it was open, but I found the screen door shut and latched.
I came back down off the porch and walked around the house. I saw an old Negro woman coming down a little grassy lane. I walked up to meet her. She looked a little tired. She had a white cotton sack on her back where she had been picking cotton and a big sun hat on. She looked up and appeared very much surprised to see me.
"Good morning, Aunty. Do you live here?" She said, "Good morning, Miss. Yes, man, I lives here. I aint been here so long though. Is der something I can do for yo?"
I told her that I wanted to talk to her a little while if she had time. She said, "Yes'um, but you see I don't want to be [empolite?] cause I won't raised dat way. But if you will come in I will talk to you while
Page 2
I fix a little dinner. I works in the field all I can."
About that time I saw a small boy coming around the house with his cotton sack.
"My name is [Sadie?]," she said, "and dis is my great grandson here. I'se got seventeen chillun, Honey."
"How did you manage with so many children, Aunty?" I asked. "By the help of the Lawd. We didn't have much, but you know what the old frog said when he went to the pond and found jus a little water, don't you? Well, he said, "A little is better than none.' Dat's de way I all'ers felt about things.
"I was born and raised in Walton County. But dey is done changed things back over der so much. I was over der to see my daughter while back and, Lawdy mussy, chile, dey is done built a new bridge ah didn't know nothing about.
"Here, Sammy, make mama a fire in de stove while I gits a few things ready to cook."
The little boy had a kerosine lamp over the blaze and, before I could stop myself, I had yelled at him to get it away from that blaze. Aunt Sadie said, "Dat's right, Miss. Correct him. Chillun des days don't see no danger in nothing.
"Back in my day as far back as I can remember
Page 3
my mother and father was [Marse?] Holt and Mistess Holt's slaves. 'Case we chilluns wus too, but slavery times wus over fo I wus big nuf to know very much 'bout hit.
"But I do know about [Marse?] Holt and Mistess Holt. Lawd, child, dey wus de best people in de world I do think. Ole Mistess use to make us go to bed early. She would feed us out under a walnut tree. She wouldn't let us eat lak chilluns do now. We would have milk and bread, and dey would always save pot liquor left over from the vegetables. They put corn bread in it. We little Niggers sho' injoyed hit though. Sometimes we would get syrup and bread and now and then a biscuit.
"[Marse?] and Mistess died, but Ma and Pa and we chillun just stayed on and waked hard. Pa and Ma both wus good farmers. But, Honey, talk 'bout slavery times, hit's mor lak slavery times now with chillun dan it wus den. 'Cause us didn't have to go to de fields til we wus good size chillun. Now de poor things has to go time dey is big nuf to walk and tote a cotton sack.
"Miss Ruth is [Marse?] and Mistess Holt's daughter. I wus fortunate to know Miss Ruth. She larnt me to say my A B C's. If I didn't know them or say them fast nuf she would slap me and make me do hit right". She got up and went over to an old washstand and got an old blue
Page 4
back speller. "Here," she said, "look at dis and you will see whut she taught me wid. You can see why I loves dat book. I don't let nobody bother wid dat.
"I sits and looks at my little book lots of times and think of dem good old days. I went to regular school two months in my life.
"I thought I wus grown when I hopped up and married." She stopped talking a moment to wash her hands. "I'se jus gwine fry some meat and make some corn bread. I'se got plenty of good milk and butter. See, der is two churns. I got to churn to-night when I comes in from de field. I canned up a good bit of berries and all de peaches and apples I could git off of dem trees in de yard. I'se got a little garden too.
"I bile vegetables when I has time. Yes, Honey, I married the nigger dat is coming to eat dis dinner I'se got to cook. He went to de [gin?] for de white folks dat own's dis place. He'll be back in alittle while. 'Cause he has gotta git in dat field. I'se believes we is gonna have a rain in a few days.
"I'se always been a hard wuker. Ah had to wuk and I'se been blessed all along by de Lawd with [good?] health. My chillun's all healthy too. Why, Honey, ah got some sons dat looks lak boxers. Dey is men. Me and Tom tried to raise our chillun right, but some of dem has been
Page 5
mighty mean and have got into lots of trouble. Hit looked lak anything some of dem tetched would stick to dey hands. The girls was all good girls 'cept one. She was so fast. Lawdy me, I couldn't do nothing with dat girl. She would run way and stay for days at the time. We worried so much 'bout her. Hit twent long after one of dem trips dat she had her fus chile. Well, I tried to look over dat. But in a little over a year she had another one. And, Honey, hit looked lak she was jus going to run me crazy about having dem babies.
"So her Pa got tired of hit and told her next time she had a baby she had to git out of our house. You know hit is hard for a mother to tell her own chile to get out. Well, anyway, hit twont long fo we say she wus going to have another baby. But she went off one day and didn't come back for three weeks. When she did, she brung in a man and said hit wus her husband. Dat nigger was scared to death though. She said she and her husband had come atter the other chilluns. Yes, me and Tom kept dem chilluns and fed and clothed 'em. Dey wus fine healthy youngsters.
"Yes, Rose has done made her a good home now. She is nigh fifty herself, too. And has twelve chilluns. Dey all smart and don't worry her likes she did me and her pa. Atta all, she got more now than the other chilluns.
"My life, Honey, is jus been ups and downs. Me and
Page 6
pa and the chilluns always jus had to stay home and work 'cept on Saddays. We would always go to town and church on Sundays. We would fix a big box of oats and get up soon Sadday morning, and Tom and the boys would hitch up old Buck to the cart. Yes, dat old ox wus jus as fast as anybody's mule. He would take us to town and bring us back safe.
"I never will forget one Sadday we wus in town. It wus a treat to jus go to town for us, the lights wus so pretty, but coming home dat day a man stopped us. Me and Tom had most of the chilluns with us. He said he wanted to take our pictures, so he could save it and show it ot his grandchilluns.
"We jus sold old Buck in 1934. He wus gitting old and couldn't plow and git 'bout lak he used too. And we needed a mule too.
"Lawdy, dere's Tom now. He come in the back door, a little man not much older looking than I is."
"Lawdy, gal, it sho has been a hot day. I thought I would never git dat cotton ready to git away from dat gin."
Looking around, he saw me and said, "Good morning, Miss. I didn't know we had a visitor. I sho was [talking?], won't I."
"The lady here jus wanted me to tell her about our life history, but I didn't think dat we poor Niggers wus
Page 7
important nuf for dat, but I have told her anyway bout all I knows."
Uncle Tom was very hungry, so I asked them to go ahead and eat. While they were eating I walked around a little to rest myself.
The little house had three rooms, all the walls had newspapers pasted on them to make them look brighter. They had two iron beds in each room, an old washstand and dresser in one, a table and trunk in the other, but no rugs. Aunt Sadie had put up some fresh homespun curtains at the windows.
I came back in the kitchen. It was the largest room they had. There was a long table in one end, a cupboard in one corner, and over in another corner sat a large range. Aunt Sadie saw me looking at it and said, "Honey, I value dat stove more den anythings I'se got, cause I sho' laks to have a good stove to cook on."
They had finished their meal by now and said they would have to go back to the field.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 57 of 73
[Negro Life on a Farm]
NEGRO LIFE ON A FARM
Written By:
Mrs. Ina B. Hawkes
Research Field Worker
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
Edited By:
Mrs. Maggie B. Freeman
Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
WPA Area - 6
November 6, 1939
October 27, 1939
Mary Johnson (Negro)
Athens, Georgia
Farmer and Wash Woman
I.B. Hawkes NEGRO LIFE ON A FARM
A dilapidated shanty, having wobbly bannisters, decorated with a couple of torn quilts and a worn out mattress, several chinaberry trees and some widely scattered patches of dry grass in the yard, best describes Aunt Celia's home.
As I approached that little aclove faint humming tunes of an old slavery song became quite audible. At the door I hesitated a moment then knocked. The humming stopped; Aunt Celia, with a bedraggled broom in one hand, answered.
"Lawdy me, Miss! You scairt me near to death. Is dere sumpin I can do for you?"
"Well, Aunt Ceila, it looks like you are too busy to do what I want," I answered.
"Lawd Miss! I'se done got all [dese?] flo's scoured an' de windows washed an' ev'ything out sunning. We kin sit rat here in de sunshine and you kin tell me what you want. I'se gona rest a little while now till dese flo's dry and den I'se gona fix me some dinner."
After we walked out under the tree and sat on an old bench she continued, "Tell me something ob what you want Miss."
"Well, I said, "Aunty, I would like for you to tell me something of your life."
Page 2
"All right if I kin remember sumpin to tell you dat will do some good."
I looked at Aunt Ceila as she sat down she was 78 years of age, but active and very pleasant to talk with. She was a short stout woman with a large goiter on the out side of her neck. Her hair was a little streaked with gray. Her hands were wrinkled from the strong soapy water she had been using to clean her windows. She looked at me and continued, "I know you think I looks a sight, Miss, but you know folks kaint stay clean doin' house cleanin' lak dis. I was born de second year after de surrender. We all was big farmers and had to work hard; us chillun would go to de field. At dinner time ma would bring our dinner and a big pail of water fo' us. We crawled up under de wagon to git in de shade. Pa would be tired, too, but he'd finally say, 'Come on out kids, lets go back to de fields now. [We'se?] done rested long enuff.'
"My school days was short 'cause we was po' folks an' had to work. Co'se Miss, us had plenty to eat and some clo's.
"We lived close to Mr. William Henry Morton. I was getting up pretty good size an' Mr. Morton had a boy workin' fo' him dat he sho did lak. He got to noticin' me. I laked him too. Mr. Morton noticed us an' he knowed I was a smart gal, so he got us married right dere in his own house. He give us a small house to live in an' a mule an' cow an' some farm tools to work with.
"I started right out to havin' babies, but I was stout
Page 3
as a mule an' went to de fields just de same an' went side by side of Peter up dem cotton rows. We picked three hundred pounds of cotton ev'y day. I plowed, too. I would work right up till bedtime. My fust chile was born when I was thirteen; I didn't know what it was all about'till I had the baby. But Miss, we didn't stop. I had a baby ev'y nine months 'till I had twenty-five. Now don't look at me lak dat, Miss, 'cause it is de truf.
"We made good as long as Peter lived. We tried to raise all of de chilluns right. Mr. Morton tol' us dat he thought we ought to stop a while.
"Well, some of den chilluns got up big enuff to git married and they started havin' chilluns right when my las' chile was born. I was [jus'?] ready to git down an' my daughter was sick with her's. I got dere an' done all I could fo' her an' went home and mine come. I prayed then, Miss, for God to never let me have no mo' babies, an' you know I stopped right then."
"Was Peter good to you during all this time Aunt Cella?"
"Oh, yes," she said, "we loved each other, only one time did he step out on me dat I knows of. A gal lived not far from us dat looked good. Mr. Morton had her there on his place to work. I was stayin' home [mo?]' now an' Peter was in de field with dis gal. When her baby was born de po' gal died and left a baby boy. Nobody could tell who de pa was. Peter was right cute about it when he come and said, 'Ceila I'se dat baby's pa an' I want us to take him an' raise him. I asked him how come he didn't tell
Page 4
me befo' de gal died. He said, 'Ceila, I was afraid you would kill dat gal, an' I didn't want you to go to de gallus an' be hund.' I don't think dey had no 'lectrik chairs den. We jus' took de baby an' let de matter drop 'cause we still loved each other.
"Miss, my pa and ma was slaves, but you know dey never would tell us much about it. I cain't remember who wus dere Mistess and Marster, but I remember hearin' dem say one time dat dey sho was good to 'em. Dey allus giv'em good food an' good clo's but dey wouldn't let them have any books. Dey would slip sometimes an' look at de papers an' try to read 'em.
"My grandma an' grandpa was slaves, too, Ma said. They had good white folk's and grandpa an' grandma married 'cause dere white folks owned both of 'em. You know, Miss, I guess dat is who I takes atter, 'cause dey had twenty-eight chilluns. Dat tickled dere white folks to death 'cause dey didn't have to buy no mo' slaves. Long as grandpa and grandma had chilluns dey had a big farm an' dat family of niggers was all dey needed, but I'se kind o' glad I won't born in dem days.
"I'se proud o' all my chilluns an' grandchilluns, too."
Just then a tall black negro girl came up with some sacks.
"Lawdy me, Miss, dis is my baby chile. Bless her heart; she allus thinks o' her ma."
She opened the sack and was surprised to find green peas and some other things. They shelled the peas and talked of some
Page 5
things which didn't interest me so I got up to go. Then Aunt Ceila said, "Wait Miss, I got some of the old folk's pitchers. I think I can git to the old trunk now widout tracking de flo'."
She was gone only a few minutes and then she came back carrying an old album with lots of old pictures taken back when hoop skirts and bustles were in style. Some of them were made in later years. After looking at the book she said, "I don't live lak I uster 'cause my husband is dead an' gone now an' I'se getting too old to work. I washes sometimes and de chilluns help me out some."
I told her that it was getting late, that I would have to go now and that I enjoyed talking to her.
"Miss," she said, "when you go back to town go to de welfare people for me and tell dem I sho needs a coat an' some dresses 'cause I sho is necked."
I told her I would do my best and left.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 58 of 73
[New Way Dry Cleaning and Laundry]
Page 2
March 10, 1939 Mr. and Mrs. L. S. Whitehead (Whit New Way Dry Cleaning and Laundry [???] tickets he addressed [incoming?] desk, and I will check them. I can do that and talk too." The girl did as she was instructed. "Now, go on [?] told the girl, if you are going want to see the baby, because some one lese others will want to go [?] and you can take their place places."
She was wearing a red crepe dress, blue checked sport coat blocked in red, tan hose and black suade suede slippery. She is of medium weight and height , and has black hair and brown eyes.
"Now, what is it you want me to tell you? Oh, I don't mind that, I have always thought I would write my own life history and send it to the True Story Magazine, Company. I was born right here in Clarke County, on a farm, and have worked all my life. I have done field worked work in the field, [many a day *1] such as carrying water, [*1] as well as doing other necessary things . I have even picked cotton.
"I went to school first at Princeton, and after I finished grammar school there I came to Athens high school one year. Then / I / quit school and went to work. My folks didn't like it one bit . However , one of my brothers was in college and another in high school, therefore I felt like it was too much of an effort for my parents to send me any longer.
"My father gave up farm work and moved to town. My first job was at a dime store ,/# I worked in that store [about two years, *2] as a clerk [*2] than then they made me floor [?] lady. After being on this job six minths months, I quit to take a vacation. They paid me $1.00 $1 a day as clerk and $10 a week when they promoted me to the floorlady job. My first money was spent on clothes and I sent money each week to my brother in college. I would buy clothes if I didn't have anything else. My husband says that is all I do anyway spend everything I make
Page 3
[?] [?] on them. I didn't have to pay board ,[?] and I could do as I pleased with my money.
"My second job was as saleslady at [??] [??] Department Store. I started in for $8 a week and was making $12 when I quit to get married. I though I couldn't keep house work too. I worked until five 5 o'clock Christmas Even and was married at nine 9 o'clock that same night.
"The way I met my husband was , like this. I had a date one night with a boy I didn't like. We were double dating with another couple. They were telling me about Stephens Bryant. I expresses a desire to meet him. Than they dared me to write him, I took the dare, and did it. Stephens and the boy I was with worked at the same place. Mother heard us and told me later I had better not do [?] such a thing. It was too late because I had all ready written the note. If she had told me that before I had, [???] it would have been called off. I wrote told him [???] how much I knew about him and said I would like to meet him - Signed,X Betty. That was on Monday after the dare was made on Sunday night. I really met him the last Sunday in June of that year. There were four girls in the car and all of us were introduced to him as Betty. After sizing us up he knew I was the one who wrote that note.
"He wanted a date and I gave him one for the following Saturday night. He made me so mad that night I could have murdered him. We were going to the show, I was sure he was going to put his coat on, but he didn't. I thought there was no excuse for gim not wearing it. We had a date dated [?] from than then on until we married. /# Infact fact every night he could get off. He worked on the night shift at the bakery and never knew when he
Page 4
[?] could get away as he worked at night. He made real good money working at the mixing machine. At the time we married he had a nice little bank account, and a good car.
"We lived on here in Athens for four months. than Then his boss sent him to Milledgeville to take charge of a bakery there. We During [ we lived there *3] the eighteen months *3. While we were living there our first child was born, and we got just what we wanted, a black-headed girl. [*4] I did all my own house work, and carried lunch to my husband every day. [That summer I canned 250 cans of fruit. *4] One day I was going to take my husband his lunch. I put the baby in her carriage, and sat the lunch in the [??] on the foot of it and started out. I had on a new pair of shoes , and when I started [?] down the [?] steps [???] of our house there were about six in all, my feet slipped. I let the carriage go , and it went flying down the steps and bumped into a tree. I was scared out of my wits for fear the baby would be [????] killed, but instead the food was knocked out on the ground. [?????] We soon grew tired of that place, as we had very little social life and no relatives living there, so my husband gave up his job and came back to Athens H[??] y.
Mrs. Bryant stopped talking [?] to answer one of phone phones.. In fact , it seemed to me that [?????] it rang constantly. There are two in the office and at times both are ringing. The machinery never stopped runing running even at lunch time. ∥ She began [?], "After we came back here my husband went into the restaurant business , and we made good and sold it at a profit. While [?] he was operating this cafe I helped him with it. One day a woman came in and tried to get Stephens to have a date with one of her grown daughters. It made me made mad enough to fight. I didn't let her know it and took it like a good sport, because she
Page 5
was a good customer. [????????]
"We decided to arm after we sold the restaurant. [?] We rented a house and four acres of land way out on Prince Avenue. It was a large house so mother and dad moved in with us. Each of us had our own garden about an acre in all and farmed on the other three. We made real good and our rent cost us very little. During the time we lived there, when my husband [???] worked at the post office. ∥ When I lease expired in December, Stephens went to Atlanta to find work. Lee Baking company had just opened their plant and my husband was the first man that company hired to work in their plant. I followed about a month later. We rented a small three-room apartment, but had so much company to drop in on us we had to get a larger place. While we were living in one section of the city I was scared to death. I knew somebody was snooping around the house at night but was never able to find out who it was. Whether white or black. I got my brother-in-law and his wife to come and stay with me. One night he went to the kitchen and saw the man looking in at the window. My brother-in-law didn't let on he saw him, but went out of the kitchen, crept around the house to catch him. Just as he grabbed his coat the man pulled away from him and ran. We came to the conclusion it was only a 'peeping-tom.' We moved from that section, that was the only scare I ever experienced in Atlanta. We lived in Atlanta two and one -half years. I came back before my husband did in order to be with my mother when our little boy was born. When the baby was two weeks old Stephens gave up that $65 a week job and came back here to live. While we were living in Atlanta my husband's mother died. There was a brother brother
Page 6
and four sisters [??] left at home. Her death was a great blow for us, for she was a fine woman and I loved her almost as much as I did my own. It took Stephens a long time to get over his great grief.
"One thing that made him quite his Atlanta job was that the plant changed managers and a man from out west was sent to Atlanta to take charge. He had a friend he wanted to work in, Stephens didn't like him so decided to quit before there was any trouble. he packed up hag bag and baggage and moved back here with my mother, who was than living about six miles from town.
"Stephens first experience with a laundry was in 1930. While we were living with my mother in the country he got a job with a laundry here in town . That called for buying a truck . However, we had kept our own car and have never been without one more than three , months of our married life. He worked strictly on [a?] commission [?] basis and worked [covered?] all the small towns out of Athens this city. While he called on people soliciting business and picking up laundry and dry cleaning he had a [body?] boy to do the driving for him. He made about seventy five averaged making dollars $75 a week on that job. In June of 1931 we moved back to town so we could be near his work. He continued his work at this laundry about a year, than decided if he could make that much for the other fellow he could do even better for himself.
"He went in partnership with another man , and rented a building a couple of blocks up the street from where we are now. Installed As soon as the the machinery was installed we and opened up for business. The first week , we opened we took in exactly $218 . , and a couple of weeks later before the month was out our collections amounted between four and five hundred dollars a week. I went in there My task was to check any *5 in and out [the dry cleaning *5]. I saw to it that all everyone the garments
Page 7
were clean and inspected [????] before I entered them on the books. I have worked many a night until one and two o'clock before I went home and was back on the job next morning at eitht eight o'clock. That was the first [?] time I had ever been inside a dry cleaning plant. Our partner, his wife, my husband and I , and one Negro were all that worked in [?] the plant. [?] [?] in the beginning.
"A short time after we opened up for business we found ourselves in a terrible condition. We had spent all our cash and were was $11,000 in [?] debt. In order to cut expenses we moved in the house with Stephens folks. We paid them the small amount of $10.00 a month . for rent. We had our own cow, chicken , and garden.
"Our business grew and grew until we [?] had to get a larger place, than then we bought this building with our own personal money. When we started in the dry cleaning business we didn't have but one truck . At the time we moved into this plant we had six trucks, three in town and three in the country , and we had with fifteen employees inside the plant.
"Just about the time we moved our plant and got started my husband was taken sick with a terrible kidney trouble. I was not working when he was taken ill. We were not able to hire a nurse, and I couldn't leave him and come to the plant in his place, as for I could not couldn't leave him more than fifteen minutes at a time. The children even upset him and their noise made him so nervous I had to send them to his sisters' to stay. He was sick a month before he was able to come back to work. We got lots of dry cleaning
Page 8
"We [?] got lots of dry cleaning from a North Georgia town so we decided to open a plant in that place. [It was a paying propersition proposition. *6] There were two other plants in that town besides ours. They got together and paid us to get out of business there. *6 We [?] accepted it. Nowwe have our business all under one roof. With twenty folks people working for us." "The telephone rang Mrs. Bryant answered it [???.] After the conversation was over, she told the a man who was standing near. "Do you remember yesterday when Mr. Palmer called and asked about a bill fold [?] that had been left in his pocket? I told the girl who inspects the clothes to check and see if it was in his clothes . ' She told me it was not. ' " Well, it has been dry cleaned and delivered [?] without being removed from his pocket." ∥ The man made no reply , to that [?] [??] card, [?] make [a?] note of this. I found $8.50 in this a man's pocket . this morning."
Turning to me she began again. "Our plant is run by steam and electricity. The Negroes does The ironing in the laundry is done by We have eleven in all Negroes." Just At this time a large Negro woman in a blue uniform brought a shirt to the office with the bottom part torn from the yoke. "Why, Lucindy , what did you do that for? [?] Without a word the woman spread the shirt on the corner of he desk, covered her face with her hands , and walked away.
"All the ironing is done by steam preasure and they are touched up by hand. That is what the Negro women does do. We have one Negroe woman who does nothing [?] else but fold, inspect and sew buttons on shirts. Oh, we have to buy them buttons by the wholesale. Whenever the trouble comes in replacing them, People will even send
Page 8
whole suits of clothes as well as other garments to us without a button on them. We replace them [??] free of charge. "In dry cleaning the clothes. When they are brought in [?????] they are searched and all articles [??] saved for the customers. [The?] They are brushed and pre-spotted, than then they are cleaned and taken to the second floor for inspection and spotted again, before they are taken to be pressed. We have a man who does nothing else but inspect and spots spot the dry cleaning.
"We can clean fifty suits at one time in the same cleaning tub , They are what [?] sometimes called the wheel. After they are taken [?] from the wheel they are put in an extractor. This takes out all the [?] surplus solvant solvent. This machine makes 18,000 revolutions a minute. After that they are put in a tumbler, [?] which has hot air going through it [?]. They are tumbled until the solvant solvent oder oder is out of the garments. After this they are taken to the second floor, inspected again , and steamed pressed. than Then they are inspected by two girls to see if all spots are removed and pressed correctly before checking out. When they are checked they are placed on their respective route-men's line. We also do repair work at a small charge. If there is no material used we do not charge for repairs.
"The laundry is handled practically the same way. Each driver has his own laundry vat, and every family had their [?] own mark. The smaller pieces are put in a net and [?] with the [?] mark on it.
"When we first moved to this building it was just a one-story plant the business [?] was growing rapidly. Our partner started drinking .
Page 9
Finally when he was on one of his drinking sprees, one night somebody backed a truck up to the back door, broke in and took off every garment we had in the plant. They were dry cleaned and hanging onx on the respective drivers' line lines. The clothes stolen amounted to over $3,000. After this My husband and the police searched everywhere for a trace of the clothes. They only found three of them the garments. They were in a pawn shop in Atlanta. When the search was ended we paid our partner his part of the business and ran him off.
"Taking the business plant in charge ourselves, we worked hard day and night to build up our business and at the same time paid very every one of our customers back for their [?] loss ?????. [in a years time?] ∥[????] a friend of ours wanted to come into business with us as a partner. After they came in the [?] business out grew the ground floor. Than Then we added the second story. We surely have had to work hard to get for what [?] we have [?] and it has taken cooperation on the part of [?] us to [?] to make our business a success build up our business. We do have a nice [?] business and take in between eight and nine hundred dollars a week. Our pau pay roll run around [$300.00?] a week.
"Since we have added the second-story the business has increased to the extent it has enabled us to buy a hundred acre farm with a good house and out buildings on it. There is a nice pasture and good farming land. We rent the house we live in [?] here in town. However, our partner [?] own owns his home here in [??] He has a wife and three sons, one of them are married.His wife works in the plant every day. [??????]
Page 10
[?]
"We are members of the Methodist church, I was brought up to go to church and Sundayschool, and still enjoy attending our church here. here in Athens.
"Last year we decided to speculate and go into another business . We tried selling fish and poultry. We found out we could couldn't handle two businesses successfully. After three months we [?] gave that up finding we had sunk $15,000 in that enterprise with no hopes of getting it back. [?????] We contributed that failure to our entering the business in an off season.
["In the last few fears *7] [???] *8 some nice trips *7, of which [Our business [?] afforded the as the pleasure of *8] We want went to Florida, Detroit, Charleston and Savannah. We take lots of trips on Sunday Sundays and always take our children with us. I am I'm not the kind to want to leave them at home while we are runing running around. [?] We do enjoy the privilege of a family car.
"Going back to our dry cleaning and laundry, we decided our pick-up [?] business in the country didn't bring in sufficiant sufficient revenue so we have called some of our drivers [?] in . Now , we have four trucks working in town and it surely keeps us busy keeping up with them and their work when tey they come in fromx from gathering laundry and xdry dry cleaning. We are very proud of our business and hope it will continue to grow."
"Veona," called Mr. Bryant, "hurry and go to the bank and deposit this money before it the bank closes." He came in the office with a handfull handful of checks. ∥ "Now , if we have finished with the story, come on and I'll give you a lift. She said, [??????] I got in the [?] Studebaker [???] " Oh, what a nice car !" I said to her. ∥ "This don't belong to us ," she said with evident amusement.
Page 11
ours "Ours is a Packard, it is it's in the garage being overhauled to take a trip in Sunday. I do hope it won't rain. ∥ [We had reached the post office.?] This is where I get our out I told her ," "You don't have an office in the post office do you?" No, in the court house. "Oh, I see," was her parting remark. As I closed the [?] door, [???? she put the gear in changed gears first and was [?] on her way to the bank.
 
 
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 58 of 73
[New Way Dry Cleaning and Laundry]
Page 2
March 10, 1939 Mr. and Mrs. L. S. Whitehead (Whit New Way Dry Cleaning and Laundry [???] tickets he addressed [incoming?] desk, and I will check them. I can do that and talk too." The girl did as she was instructed. "Now, go on [?] told the girl, if you are going want to see the baby, because some one lese others will want to go [?] and you can take their place places."
She was wearing a red crepe dress, blue checked sport coat blocked in red, tan hose and black suade suede slippery. She is of medium weight and height , and has black hair and brown eyes.
"Now, what is it you want me to tell you? Oh, I don't mind that, I have always thought I would write my own life history and send it to the True Story Magazine, Company. I was born right here in Clarke County, on a farm, and have worked all my life. I have done field worked work in the field, [many a day *1] such as carrying water, [*1] as well as doing other necessary things . I have even picked cotton.
"I went to school first at Princeton, and after I finished grammar school there I came to Athens high school one year. Then / I / quit school and went to work. My folks didn't like it one bit . However , one of my brothers was in college and another in high school, therefore I felt like it was too much of an effort for my parents to send me any longer.
"My father gave up farm work and moved to town. My first job was at a dime store ,/# I worked in that store [about two years, *2] as a clerk [*2] than then they made me floor [?] lady. After being on this job six minths months, I quit to take a vacation. They paid me $1.00 $1 a day as clerk and $10 a week when they promoted me to the floorlady job. My first money was spent on clothes and I sent money each week to my brother in college. I would buy clothes if I didn't have anything else. My husband says that is all I do anyway spend everything I make
Page 3
[?] [?] on them. I didn't have to pay board ,[?] and I could do as I pleased with my money.
"My second job was as saleslady at [??] [??] Department Store. I started in for $8 a week and was making $12 when I quit to get married. I though I couldn't keep house work too. I worked until five 5 o'clock Christmas Even and was married at nine 9 o'clock that same night.
"The way I met my husband was , like this. I had a date one night with a boy I didn't like. We were double dating with another couple. They were telling me about Stephens Bryant. I expresses a desire to meet him. Than they dared me to write him, I took the dare, and did it. Stephens and the boy I was with worked at the same place. Mother heard us and told me later I had better not do [?] such a thing. It was too late because I had all ready written the note. If she had told me that before I had, [???] it would have been called off. I wrote told him [???] how much I knew about him and said I would like to meet him - Signed,X Betty. That was on Monday after the dare was made on Sunday night. I really met him the last Sunday in June of that year. There were four girls in the car and all of us were introduced to him as Betty. After sizing us up he knew I was the one who wrote that note.
"He wanted a date and I gave him one for the following Saturday night. He made me so mad that night I could have murdered him. We were going to the show, I was sure he was going to put his coat on, but he didn't. I thought there was no excuse for gim not wearing it. We had a date dated [?] from than then on until we married. /# Infact fact every night he could get off. He worked on the night shift at the bakery and never knew when he
Page 4
[?] could get away as he worked at night. He made real good money working at the mixing machine. At the time we married he had a nice little bank account, and a good car.
"We lived on here in Athens for four months. than Then his boss sent him to Milledgeville to take charge of a bakery there. We During [ we lived there *3] the eighteen months *3. While we were living there our first child was born, and we got just what we wanted, a black-headed girl. [*4] I did all my own house work, and carried lunch to my husband every day. [That summer I canned 250 cans of fruit. *4] One day I was going to take my husband his lunch. I put the baby in her carriage, and sat the lunch in the [??] on the foot of it and started out. I had on a new pair of shoes , and when I started [?] down the [?] steps [???] of our house there were about six in all, my feet slipped. I let the carriage go , and it went flying down the steps and bumped into a tree. I was scared out of my wits for fear the baby would be [????] killed, but instead the food was knocked out on the ground. [?????] We soon grew tired of that place, as we had very little social life and no relatives living there, so my husband gave up his job and came back to Athens H[??] y.
Mrs. Bryant stopped talking [?] to answer one of phone phones.. In fact , it seemed to me that [?????] it rang constantly. There are two in the office and at times both are ringing. The machinery never stopped runing running even at lunch time. ∥ She began [?], "After we came back here my husband went into the restaurant business , and we made good and sold it at a profit. While [?] he was operating this cafe I helped him with it. One day a woman came in and tried to get Stephens to have a date with one of her grown daughters. It made me made mad enough to fight. I didn't let her know it and took it like a good sport, because she
Page 5
was a good customer. [????????]
"We decided to arm after we sold the restaurant. [?] We rented a house and four acres of land way out on Prince Avenue. It was a large house so mother and dad moved in with us. Each of us had our own garden about an acre in all and farmed on the other three. We made real good and our rent cost us very little. During the time we lived there, when my husband [???] worked at the post office. ∥ When I lease expired in December, Stephens went to Atlanta to find work. Lee Baking company had just opened their plant and my husband was the first man that company hired to work in their plant. I followed about a month later. We rented a small three-room apartment, but had so much company to drop in on us we had to get a larger place. While we were living in one section of the city I was scared to death. I knew somebody was snooping around the house at night but was never able to find out who it was. Whether white or black. I got my brother-in-law and his wife to come and stay with me. One night he went to the kitchen and saw the man looking in at the window. My brother-in-law didn't let on he saw him, but went out of the kitchen, crept around the house to catch him. Just as he grabbed his coat the man pulled away from him and ran. We came to the conclusion it was only a 'peeping-tom.' We moved from that section, that was the only scare I ever experienced in Atlanta. We lived in Atlanta two and one -half years. I came back before my husband did in order to be with my mother when our little boy was born. When the baby was two weeks old Stephens gave up that $65 a week job and came back here to live. While we were living in Atlanta my husband's mother died. There was a brother brother
Page 6
and four sisters [??] left at home. Her death was a great blow for us, for she was a fine woman and I loved her almost as much as I did my own. It took Stephens a long time to get over his great grief.
"One thing that made him quite his Atlanta job was that the plant changed managers and a man from out west was sent to Atlanta to take charge. He had a friend he wanted to work in, Stephens didn't like him so decided to quit before there was any trouble. he packed up hag bag and baggage and moved back here with my mother, who was than living about six miles from town.
"Stephens first experience with a laundry was in 1930. While we were living with my mother in the country he got a job with a laundry here in town . That called for buying a truck . However, we had kept our own car and have never been without one more than three , months of our married life. He worked strictly on [a?] commission [?] basis and worked [covered?] all the small towns out of Athens this city. While he called on people soliciting business and picking up laundry and dry cleaning he had a [body?] boy to do the driving for him. He made about seventy five averaged making dollars $75 a week on that job. In June of 1931 we moved back to town so we could be near his work. He continued his work at this laundry about a year, than decided if he could make that much for the other fellow he could do even better for himself.
"He went in partnership with another man , and rented a building a couple of blocks up the street from where we are now. Installed As soon as the the machinery was installed we and opened up for business. The first week , we opened we took in exactly $218 . , and a couple of weeks later before the month was out our collections amounted between four and five hundred dollars a week. I went in there My task was to check any *5 in and out [the dry cleaning *5]. I saw to it that all everyone the garments
Page 7
were clean and inspected [????] before I entered them on the books. I have worked many a night until one and two o'clock before I went home and was back on the job next morning at eitht eight o'clock. That was the first [?] time I had ever been inside a dry cleaning plant. Our partner, his wife, my husband and I , and one Negro were all that worked in [?] the plant. [?] [?] in the beginning.
"A short time after we opened up for business we found ourselves in a terrible condition. We had spent all our cash and were was $11,000 in [?] debt. In order to cut expenses we moved in the house with Stephens folks. We paid them the small amount of $10.00 a month . for rent. We had our own cow, chicken , and garden.
"Our business grew and grew until we [?] had to get a larger place, than then we bought this building with our own personal money. When we started in the dry cleaning business we didn't have but one truck . At the time we moved into this plant we had six trucks, three in town and three in the country , and we had with fifteen employees inside the plant.
"Just about the time we moved our plant and got started my husband was taken sick with a terrible kidney trouble. I was not working when he was taken ill. We were not able to hire a nurse, and I couldn't leave him and come to the plant in his place, as for I could not couldn't leave him more than fifteen minutes at a time. The children even upset him and their noise made him so nervous I had to send them to his sisters' to stay. He was sick a month before he was able to come back to work. We got lots of dry cleaning
Page 8
"We [?] got lots of dry cleaning from a North Georgia town so we decided to open a plant in that place. [It was a paying propersition proposition. *6] There were two other plants in that town besides ours. They got together and paid us to get out of business there. *6 We [?] accepted it. Nowwe have our business all under one roof. With twenty folks people working for us." "The telephone rang Mrs. Bryant answered it [???.] After the conversation was over, she told the a man who was standing near. "Do you remember yesterday when Mr. Palmer called and asked about a bill fold [?] that had been left in his pocket? I told the girl who inspects the clothes to check and see if it was in his clothes . ' She told me it was not. ' " Well, it has been dry cleaned and delivered [?] without being removed from his pocket." ∥ The man made no reply , to that [?] [??] card, [?] make [a?] note of this. I found $8.50 in this a man's pocket . this morning."
Turning to me she began again. "Our plant is run by steam and electricity. The Negroes does The ironing in the laundry is done by We have eleven in all Negroes." Just At this time a large Negro woman in a blue uniform brought a shirt to the office with the bottom part torn from the yoke. "Why, Lucindy , what did you do that for? [?] Without a word the woman spread the shirt on the corner of he desk, covered her face with her hands , and walked away.
"All the ironing is done by steam preasure and they are touched up by hand. That is what the Negro women does do. We have one Negroe woman who does nothing [?] else but fold, inspect and sew buttons on shirts. Oh, we have to buy them buttons by the wholesale. Whenever the trouble comes in replacing them, People will even send
Page 8
whole suits of clothes as well as other garments to us without a button on them. We replace them [??] free of charge. "In dry cleaning the clothes. When they are brought in [?????] they are searched and all articles [??] saved for the customers. [The?] They are brushed and pre-spotted, than then they are cleaned and taken to the second floor for inspection and spotted again, before they are taken to be pressed. We have a man who does nothing else but inspect and spots spot the dry cleaning.
"We can clean fifty suits at one time in the same cleaning tub , They are what [?] sometimes called the wheel. After they are taken [?] from the wheel they are put in an extractor. This takes out all the [?] surplus solvant solvent. This machine makes 18,000 revolutions a minute. After that they are put in a tumbler, [?] which has hot air going through it [?]. They are tumbled until the solvant solvent oder oder is out of the garments. After this they are taken to the second floor, inspected again , and steamed pressed. than Then they are inspected by two girls to see if all spots are removed and pressed correctly before checking out. When they are checked they are placed on their respective route-men's line. We also do repair work at a small charge. If there is no material used we do not charge for repairs.
"The laundry is handled practically the same way. Each driver has his own laundry vat, and every family had their [?] own mark. The smaller pieces are put in a net and [?] with the [?] mark on it.
"When we first moved to this building it was just a one-story plant the business [?] was growing rapidly. Our partner started drinking .
Page 9
Finally when he was on one of his drinking sprees, one night somebody backed a truck up to the back door, broke in and took off every garment we had in the plant. They were dry cleaned and hanging onx on the respective drivers' line lines. The clothes stolen amounted to over $3,000. After this My husband and the police searched everywhere for a trace of the clothes. They only found three of them the garments. They were in a pawn shop in Atlanta. When the search was ended we paid our partner his part of the business and ran him off.
"Taking the business plant in charge ourselves, we worked hard day and night to build up our business and at the same time paid very every one of our customers back for their [?] loss ?????. [in a years time?] ∥[????] a friend of ours wanted to come into business with us as a partner. After they came in the [?] business out grew the ground floor. Than Then we added the second story. We surely have had to work hard to get for what [?] we have [?] and it has taken cooperation on the part of [?] us to [?] to make our business a success build up our business. We do have a nice [?] business and take in between eight and nine hundred dollars a week. Our pau pay roll run around [$300.00?] a week.
"Since we have added the second-story the business has increased to the extent it has enabled us to buy a hundred acre farm with a good house and out buildings on it. There is a nice pasture and good farming land. We rent the house we live in [?] here in town. However, our partner [?] own owns his home here in [??] He has a wife and three sons, one of them are married.His wife works in the plant every day. [??????]
Page 10
[?]
"We are members of the Methodist church, I was brought up to go to church and Sundayschool, and still enjoy attending our church here. here in Athens.
"Last year we decided to speculate and go into another business . We tried selling fish and poultry. We found out we could couldn't handle two businesses successfully. After three months we [?] gave that up finding we had sunk $15,000 in that enterprise with no hopes of getting it back. [?????] We contributed that failure to our entering the business in an off season.
["In the last few fears *7] [???] *8 some nice trips *7, of which [Our business [?] afforded the as the pleasure of *8] We want went to Florida, Detroit, Charleston and Savannah. We take lots of trips on Sunday Sundays and always take our children with us. I am I'm not the kind to want to leave them at home while we are runing running around. [?] We do enjoy the privilege of a family car.
"Going back to our dry cleaning and laundry, we decided our pick-up [?] business in the country didn't bring in sufficiant sufficient revenue so we have called some of our drivers [?] in . Now , we have four trucks working in town and it surely keeps us busy keeping up with them and their work when tey they come in fromx from gathering laundry and xdry dry cleaning. We are very proud of our business and hope it will continue to grow."
"Veona," called Mr. Bryant, "hurry and go to the bank and deposit this money before it the bank closes." He came in the office with a handfull handful of checks. ∥ "Now , if we have finished with the story, come on and I'll give you a lift. She said, [??????] I got in the [?] Studebaker [???] " Oh, what a nice car !" I said to her. ∥ "This don't belong to us ," she said with evident amusement.
Page 11
ours "Ours is a Packard, it is it's in the garage being overhauled to take a trip in Sunday. I do hope it won't rain. ∥ [We had reached the post office.?] This is where I get our out I told her ," "You don't have an office in the post office do you?" No, in the court house. "Oh, I see," was her parting remark. As I closed the [?] door, [???? she put the gear in changed gears first and was [?] on her way to the bank.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 60 of 73
[The Patent Medicine Vendor]
[LIFE HISTORY?]
February 28, 1939
Mrs. Grace Crowder (white)
250 Baxter St.
Athens, Georgia
Tailor assistant
Grace McCune THE PATENT MEDICINE VENDOR
"I was just about eight when I met my first husband. That sounds funny, but it is the truth, but I did not dream of such a thing as ever marrying that old man, but that just goes to prove that we never know what is in store for us."
A customer came in the shop where Mrs. Cherry works, and as she waited on him, I looked around the shop which was a large room, with several long tables that were used for cutting and marking clothes. A large clothes rack at one end of the room, held finished garments. A sewing table, with a machine on each side, one electric but the other was just a plain sewing machine with the foot peddle.
The large heater at one side of the room, and it was very warm, coming out of the cold wind and rain. Four large windows furnished a good light to work by. The room was very comfortable and as the customers chatted for a few minutes about the weather and to inquire about the woman who owned the shop and was at home sick.
As the customers left, Mrs. Cherry came back to the fire. "It is cold," she said, "and all this rain is awful but there is nothing we can do about it, except grin and get wet.
Page 2
"But just where did I get In the story. I believe I was telling how I met my first husband. We had just moved to that house, which was near a university and he was one of the stewards in the school. The school grounds joined our lot on the back, and they raised their vegetables. The corn and potato patch joined our lot. They had cows also and there was a branch running through their pasture. This branch was a good place to wade, and all the kids around played in it.
"I was one of the smallest kids in the crowd and he would pick me lots of times and carry me to keep the weeds and briars from hurting my feet. I thought he was great, especially as he was always giving me candy, chewing gum or apples. Why, I just knew he was the best man I knew, and he would tell us about his little girl. She was a year or so older than I and lived with an aunt, as her mother was dead.
"He was good to all the children but I was his favorite. They thought it was because I was the smallest one of them, and too I played in the pasture lots of times when they were in school for I couldn't go to school because my eyes were bad. I got sick, I just caught the measles but I was pretty sick. He never missed a day coming to see me and would always bring me something. He told mama one day that he wished she would give me to him. Mama just laughed and said, 'Why I couldn't give my baby away; we couldn't do without her.
"He laughed also and said, 'Well, when she gets older I am coming back after her. Of course they all laughed and told him alright, for they didn't think as old as he was he would
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ever think about me, except as a kid. They teased me all the time about him, and kid like it pleased me, but he petted me as long as he stayed there which was for several years after I first saw him.
"When he did leave the university; he came by the house to tell us good-bye and that he was going to Atlanta, but said 'I am coming back after you.' I guess I was about eleven then. Mama just laughed and said, 'alright.' She thought he was just talking, and I didn't hear from him for about a year. Then one day I got a letter from him saying that he had not forgotten and was still coming back for me, and kid like I felt flattered. I just didn't have any sense.
"He kept writing to me and when I was fifteen he came back and said he had come for me. I didn't realize what I was doing, and thought I was just head over heels in love. Nothing would do except that I must marry him. We had a home wedding. The house was really lovely. It was decorated with large palsm, ferns and flowers of all kinds.
"I was married in the afternoon about four o'clock. My wedding dress was gray chiffon and I had grey accessories. My flowers were white roses. I wall scared almost to death and turned his hand lose several times during the ceremony. The preacher had to keep reminding me that I would have to hold hands. The preacher was an old friend of our family. In fact we were then living in his house and he had married my sister just about a year before in this same house, and in the room next to the one he married me. It seemed to me as if he never would get through praying.
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"We did not have a reception for we left immediately after the ceremony for the city where he lived, but there was a large crowd of people and we received many nice presents. The man he worked for gave us a check for one hundred dollars, and when we reached the city where he lived his boss had our house all furnished and ready for us.
"My husband as I have told you was years older than I, and he was working for an old Indian medicine company. The main office or plant where the medicine was made was in this city. He would stay in the plant until a large supply was made and ready to ship and then he went on the road to advertise it. This kept him on the road most of the time.
"The office and plant was in a large lovely old home, that the company had bought, and it was fixed up to be convenient in every way, both for the work and the ones that worked there. Why they even had a large swimming pool for the use of the people that worked for them. They were mighty good people to work for.
"I went to work for my husband and started in the laboratory to learn the business from the beginning and I started in at six dollars a week. My husband was getting fifty dollars a week. The first thing I did was label bottles. At first this was done by hand, but business grew so that we had to have a machine to label as well as fill the bottles and it wasn't long until I could label more bottles than anyone else. I was paid more. I think it was raised to ten dollars a week.
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"It wasn't long then until I was taken in the laboratory where the medicine was made, and the doctor in charge of this department taught me how to make the medicine up. I really enjoyed this work for it was really interesting and you know it was really a good medicine. We used it ourselves so you know it was good. I could soon make it as good as the doctor. When we had a good supply made we were ready for the road work. I was looking forward to this for I didn't realize what it meant and thought it would be fun.
"But I soon learned better than that. As I said the medicine was really good and was in demand. It was sold all over the United States. Why one man that run a chain of drug stores bought about one hundred carloads at one time. We had salesmen on the road to make the sales and then we did the advertising also giving out circulars and coupons and for this my husband carried several crew managers with him. But the others were hired to work under them in the towns where we were working.
"As it was an Indian medicine all the people that advertised were made up as Indians. The crew managers went on a day ahead. Yes they had enough of them so they could do this. They carried a supply of the Indian suits for the men giving out the circulars wore the Indian suits also. The medicine sold for a dollar a bottle and the coupons that we gave away was good for thirty five cents on a bottle of medicine.
"My job was to advertise at the drugstores while the crew managers and their men canvassed the town. My husband saw that
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it was all done and the first day or so it was alright. I thought it was fun. I was dressed in a soft leather suit, all trimmed up in beads and fringe, leather moccassim shoes with beads, my face and hands were stained and I wore a wig with corse balck hair and feathers in my hair, and hanging down over my shoulders. You know how it all looked for I know you have seen pictures of them. I stood at the door of the drugstore and gave away coupons.
"Yes, I made good money for when I went on the road I was paid twenty-five dollars a week and all expenses. My husband made fifty dollars. The crew managers were paid fifteen dollars. Of course all our expenses were paid by the company. The men or boys that he hired in the towns were paid twelve dollars a week or two dollars a day for it was a large town if they stayed there for a week. My husband and I only stayed one day at a town and then we went on to the next town.
"We didn't travel in cars but went on the trains. I soon grew tired of it for standing all day and then getting the make up off and rushing to catch trains sometimes didn't have time to eat and very little sleep and very often we could not get a good place to stay for this was during war times and you know how things were then.
"Sometimes we almost froze to death in the winter time. Maybe we would get in about day light and have to get ready for the day's work, probably have to get on the job before we had time to eat and we had to be on the job for that was in the
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the company {Omitted text} was to do all the advertising. I was the only woman on the road, but my husband saw that I did my part.
"We didn't go to the small towns where there were no trains. The salesmen and crew managers took care of them. But hard as the work was I would want to laugh sometimes especially at the kids. They would get off and look at me just knew they were looking at an honest to goodness Indian woman, but then some of the grown ups were as bad as the children and have asked me all kinds of questions. I was not supposed to be able to talk any English and I even had one to pinch me one day to see if I was real. She laughed and said, "That is one time I could hardly keep still.
"One time we went into a town to work. It had been raining for days. I was just tired and worn out. The rivers were all high and especially so at this town. The trains were the only means of getting in and that was dangerous. But we had to go. It was late at night when we got in. We were both tired, sleepy and hungry. We did not take all of our baggage out of the depot that night, thinking we would just wait until morning to get them.
"But that is where we made a mistake for the river kept getting higher during the night and by morning was in the streets and the depot also. All of our clothes were ruined. It was three days before we could get away from that town. I never was so tired of looking at water, and it was cold and we had colds and I was glad to get back in our hometown for we had to go back and get up another supply of medicine
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ready. It was just that way all the time.
"We would stay on the road until the medicine gave out and then we had to come back in and help get another supply made up. I did hate for time to come to go back on the road. I begged my husband to let me stay in the office, but would not hear to that. I don't know why it was but he was extremely jealous of me and I had to go with him all the time. so there was nothing for me to do except keep going.
"We had to keep up with all those Indian suits that were used by the crew managers for their boys that distributed circulars. This was not as easy as one might think for they sent in from many different towns at time to laundered and we had to send out fresh ones. There was always something to keep you on the move. I did not get very much in the evenings for any past time or pleasure for when we were on the road I was really too tired to think of it and too I had no time for it was catch a train by the time I was off so I could be at another town by morning.
"And when we were at home we worked also and in the evening my husband was old and enjoyed sitting around reading his paper and discussing the days work, and he was not willing for me to go without him. I was young and grew tired of all this. I realized then what I had done and every day it grew worse but I didn't know what to do and I just stood it for three years and we separated.
"He changed jobs then and went to work as a landscape gardener on a large private estate. He kept begging until I finally went back to him but we just couldn't make a go then
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and I finally decided the best thing for both of us, and after being married three years, we separated for good. He went to another town and I went to work there in a paper mill.
"But before I get off of that part of my story I am going to tell you about one of the doors in the office of the medicine plant. I don't expect you to believe it for I didn't until I saw it happen myself. But when I first went there to work one of the girls told me about this door. She said that everytime it was locked it would come open.
"I just laughed and passed it up for I was a new hand and thought they weretrying to have a little fun with me. I didn't think of it again for sometime. Then one day I just happened to think about it and I told my husband about the girls trying to play a joke on me. He said, 'Haven't you ever seen that door? Come on and I will show it to you.
"He carried me in the office and told me to lock the door. I still thought they were trying to play a joke on me. But I locked the door and took the key out. I then tried it to see if it was really locked. It was and I laughed and started to a chair to set down saying I guess it wont come open this time. My husband said, 'Well, what do you say now? I looked and the door was coming open just as if some one was opening it, but there was no one there. I tried it two or three times and everytime I locked it, it came open. But if you just pushed it to then it would stay closed. It was that way all the time I was there. But that was a real old home and I am sure it must have an interesting history.
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But not so long after we left the medicine company, the owner of it died and he had really made money out of it, and took care of it, but after his death, his brother took charge of it and just went through with everything and it was soon broke and sold to pay up the debts.
"After I had been separated sometime from my husband and he had left town, I got my divorce. I was still working and so sure that I was through with men for the rest of my life. The girl that I roomed with would laugh at me and say just wait young women, you are just getting old enough to have a good time, and to start to thinking of getting married.
"I did not think she was right. In fact, I just knew I would never marry again. I did have a good time, just went some where most every evening, shows, dances, or sometimes we would have a card party for my room mate although a little older than I was enjoyed a good time also. We always went out together. It was not so many months before I met my second husband.
"He was so nice and kind all together different from the first one for we were nearer the same age. I met him in May and we were married in September. He worked in a large railroad machine shop and made sixty dollars a week. I wanted to work on, but he wouldn't listen to me, he said that he didn't want me to work and we were so happy and got along so good.
"His father run a blacksmith shop in another town. He got kicked by a mule and was hurt pretty bad. He sent for my husband to come and look after his shop until he was able to work again. We went. He gave up his job in the railroad shop. We stayed at his fathers until he was able to look after his
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set up the wheels on the shovels, which were pulled by two mules.
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shop again. He didn't want my husband to leave, but we wanted to get out to ourselves again. He went to work for a highway construction company that was grading the highway going into Alabama.
He worked for them as a blacksmith and he also set up the wheels on the steam shovels set up the wheels on the shovels, which were pulled by two mules. I don't know whether you know anything about these things or not, but they have to be adjusted just right to pick up the same amount of dirt all the way around or it will tilt it all over. He was the only one that could do this kind of work and they paid him a good salary.
"We were on the road all the time, following the crew of workers, but still it was not like it was before for I didn't have anything to do. But it was lonesome. For most of the time, there was only two or three white people with about a hundred Negroes. We never had any trouble with them. They all liked my husband and were very nice to me and we stayed with them until just a short time before our first child was born.
"My husband settled down in a small town in Alabama in a small town in Alabama and opened a shop of his own. We did fine there. He did a lot of work for the construction company as long as they were near enough to him. His boss didn't want him to quit, said he could send me to a hospital and work on. He wouldn't do it. He said that he wasn't going to leave me. After our baby came we stayed on there until his father got hurt again and wrote for him to come and run his shop for him. He was making good with his own shop and we did hate to
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give it up. His father was old and begged so hard for him to come, we decided that we would go, but only until his father was able to look after his work again for we did not like to stay there. His father was really in a bad condition from being kicked again by a mule. The doctors didn't think he would ever be able to work again, but he finally got up and after a few months he was strong enough to look after his shop again. And we left. My husband went back to his old job in the railroad shop and we were very glad to get back. Of course, we were foolish over the baby but he just thought that he had the only child in the world just worshipped that little girl.
"We stayed there for a long time. His old boss kept writing for him to come back to work for him in the construction company. He did not want to go, he said it was no place to rear a baby. Then we were expecting another baby. But all at once they had to put off some of the men in the shop and as my husband was one of the last ones to go to work, he felt sure he would he one of them.
"He was right. It was not many weeks until he was laid off. They let him work as long as they could for he was a good worker and knew how to do it, and they told him that they were going to put him back just as soon as they possibly could. But he said he couldn't depend on that with a family to take care of and we decided that maybe he had better go back with the construction company.
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He was worried to death about me and how we could manage and him away from home, but I told him I could come home and stay for a while and perhaps by that time I was well again. We could arrange things so that we could go with him at least part of the time, if not all the time, but he just couldn't hardly stand the idea of being away from me and the baby.
"We went with him for a few weeks, rented a room nearby, where the gang was working on a large dam, and he could come home at night and then I came home. He came part of the way with me and said he was just a good mind not to leave us and go back. He just seemed to feel that he wouldn't see us any more. I tried to reason with him that we would soon be back, but I don't know why he felt as he did. But he was right and that was the last time I ever saw him.
"I wired him as soon as I got here and wrote him the next day. I had one letter from him telling me to be sure and let him hear from me every day for he was uneasy about me. But that is the last I ever heard from him. I knew something was wrong, for it was not like him to treat me that way and we had never had any fusses or disagreements. They said at home, 'Oh, well, he just wanted to get rid of you.'
"I wrote to his boss, but when the letter came I was so sick they would not tell anything about it. But when my baby was about a month old they gave me the letter and he wrote me that my husband was killed in an accident a few days after I left. He said that he knew my condition and didn't know where I was, but thought I was with my husband's people and that he wired them.
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"They didn't let me know anything about it. They didn't like it because we didn't stay on with them. I wrote to them and asked them to tell me more about it and they never answered my letter but one of the men that worked with him told me later that he was in one of the trucks and was crossing the railroad when a train came around a curve and hit the truck, and tore it to pieces and that my husband's body was crushed.
"I knew when I didn't hear from him that something was wrong, for it was not like him to treat anyone that way, and especially his family. I have thought many times since then that he must have had some warning that something was going to happen the reason that he hated for us to leave so bad.
"I have had a tough time since then trying to raise my two little girls. It has been a hard fight. I am trying to do the best I can and get them through school and for the last few years I have had one of my sisters little girls to take care of since her mother died and she will tell you today that there is not one bit of difference shown between her and my children for I do not make any difference. What one has they all have.
"But I do the best I can. My eyes are so bad that I can't work like I need to, but I feel like that if I try and do the best I can that there will be a way provided for me to take care of them for I still have my faith."