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American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
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Stories Presented Exactly as Written.
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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

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American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 61 of 73
"The Poppy Lady"
February 8-9, 1939
Miss Moina Belle Michael
"The Poppy Lady
Georgian Hotel Fifty Fifth -floor Room 523
Athens, Georgia
Hornsby
Miss Michael
I entered the Georgian Hotel walked through its spacious lobby to the clerks desk and asked him if he would call Miss Michael's room, and find out if it was convenient for me to come up. She told him she was expecting me, as I had made an engagement the day before to visit her.
When I got on the elevator, to go to the fifth floor, I must admit I was a little nervous, I got off at the fifth floor walked down one long emply empty hall-way except for the carpet on the floor, and turned into a nother , a few doors down I found the number, knocked upon the door, a voice within said: "come in." I opened the door there stood Miss Moina Michael, she extended her hand to me saying, "welcome into my living room, library, office, dining room, kitchen and bed room. This is the only place I have to invite visitors. Do you know as much as I have done for the world they don't even so much as to five give me paper and stamps to do my letter writing in answer to the thousands of answers , and stamps to mail them with. Right now I am preparing a speech to give over the ? radio in New York, in the spring. That means new clothes, an evening dress to wear while I am giving my talk. The thoughts of all that makes me sick. You know I haven't been well for some time. One thing I simply don't like to do is pack for a trip. ???
"Now what is it you want? A story of my life, why that is very kind of you to think my life history is worth mentioning, but I am always doing things like that I have thousands of questions
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asked me every day. Why , I am just like a little wren just as simple as simple can be. My sister once said to my, 'why, Beckey you are just too simple for words.' That's why I remind myself of the little wren, just a simple little common place person. People will write the best things about me when I am gone.
Her room is neatly furnished, a walnut chest of drawers, which serves as a dresser on this sits a toilet set of blue glass. A large mirror hangs over the chest of drawers. A single bed with low square posts serves as a divan, a tapestry cover is placed spread over the bed and several large pillows are covered with the same material , are arranged upright across one end and around the back of the bed. A screen drapped with harmonizing material is placed to obscure from view the dest desk, typewriter, hot plate and other articles used for house keeping aid. Miss Michael was wearing a blue crepe dress trimmed at the neck with a chrochet crochet collar of a delicate pattern caught with a gold pin of full blown and buds of poppies bordered with pearls, perhaps a gift for some noble work she has done in regard to the work to immortalize "Poppy Day."
"Where do you want me to begin, way back to my childhood days.?? Well I was born in Walton County, just a short distance from Good-Hope, between Monroe and High Shoals, August 15, 1869. I was the oldest daughter, my mother was Alice Sherwood Wise and married John Marion Michael. I am of French Huguenot lineage, and borned in a cherry log cabin with a log floor, on the spot where the first cabin was built on which was the first clearing in that county. When my father built a better house the log floor was taken up and the building used for a smoke house. Often I was called from my playhouse to put oak chips on the fire when my parents were curing their meat; mother would say;
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'Beckey run and put just three chips on the fire.' It didn't mean anything to me than, oh, the mistakes I have made if I could call those times back, I could be of more service to the world.
"During the war the ashes were raked off the top of the ground in that smoke house the earth was run through an ash hopper and the salt from the meat that had dripped on the ground was extracted from it and used to season food. Oh, what a time people had in those days, I think it was ? remarkable how my grandmother carried on after her father died she was the youngest of nine she herself was only eighteen, how she took the plantation over and managed it successfully. He was a large land owner and had many slaves. But ' Shermon's Sherman's March through Georgia' changed all that. I think that the things in Margaret Mitchell's book 'Gone With The Wind' were true, I am sure it was that way around Atlanta or she would never have written it. To my mind Meloney was the true type of Southern Character. When I was a child and saw those stately men and women so noble and fine it never occured to me a bad person ever lived.
"Everyone in that community turned out on meeting day, we had two meetings each month one Sunday we went to the Baptist church and the next we went over to the Primitive Baptist. I can see them now, those good women and those grand old men with long white beard, praying and singing in church.
"I went to school at Braswell? Academy in Morgan County, and also attend / ed Martain Martin Institute from 1883 until 1886 however, I did not graduate. My parents were not able to send me to school the
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next term. The first week in June of 1885 I left school and went home. The next day I met the children of school-age of the neighborhood / a one-room, vacant negro cabin, on the hill, and launched my crude canoe on the educational sea. My immaturity, ignorance, guldness guidlness? and my mother's faith in me, together with her anxiety concerning the children younger than myself and the neighbors' children, was a cargo of this frail bark. I habe have taught in county schools / in rural one-room house, in town schools in larger buildings, in church schools, Bessie Tift College, state schools with big enrollments and large and ancient buildings , fifty-four years.
"South of my home on the old family plantation, some two miles distant across the fields, hills, woods and Indian Creek, was the little community, with the country post office, where we ? got our mail every Friday afternoon. There was a vacant chestnut log structure which had been the Robert Hale store. It had shuttered windows and front and back doors, an open fire-place, I taught school five months at this building in Good-Hope. I received eight cents per day for the sixteen children in school for the five months. It was paid to me January 1886. I used $30.00 $20.00 of it for dental work. The other I gave to my father.
"The same year I taught at Liberty, in Greene County in a one-room school building it also was used for a church and Sunday School, one Sunday in a month. I boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Watt Wray. Their young son, Willis, went to school with me each day. This "Old Wray" place is a dream place with me; the original forest which- made had tremendous groves boardered bordered flower garden and the strutting pea-cocks beyond the paled in yard and
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beyond this grove. Big vegetables gardens with real paper shell pecan trees which was immense. It is said of this old place that the owner used to fertilize his cotton rows with hog lard. But this generation of Wray's was living through "the relics of former grandeur," as the rest of us southerners were after, "The Surrender."
"I taught four 4 years in the Baptist Orphan*1's*1 Home; two 2 years in *2 Atlanta , on its? Courtland Street  School in *2 and two 2 years after it was moved to Hapevella? Haperville ?? sick Sickness overtook me and and had to go home when I was strong enough ???? I went back to the school room , I taught this time at Apalachee it was at this place that I conducted a funeral,? That was in 1897. A little girl in that community had been died from the result of burns. burned to death. I told my school children to bring flower to the funeral the next day to put on the grave. When the cortage? arrived we were waiting on the outside of the building waiting. In those days there were no hearses, so that casket was placed across the foot of a buggy, accompa*3in*3ed by two men, back of them was the family in a spring wagon. everyone *4 in those days *4 turned-out to a funeral. A runner was sent for the pastor, only to find learn that he was conducting another funeral at that time times. *5 Joe ? was attending court at High Shoals. who was the only other ? preacher living nearby that they could think of was *5 Turning to me crying, her mother she said: 'miss Moina I simply can't bury my child without a funersl, can't you do it for me?' I couldn't denigh deny her so I said a few words, had my children sing; 'When He Cometh To Make Up His Jewels,' and I closed with a prayer. There wasn't a man there, that didn't feel comdemned, they couldn't even pray in public, and had to get a little country school
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teacher to preach the funeral, that was forty years ago.
She laughed ? as she confessed: "I have had to pinched-hit at a funeral and wedding too. When I was at Columbia University, a friend of mine was marrying my cousin, Congressman Walter Wise, of Fayetteville, Georgia. At the last minute , Walter wired the girl he was to marry. 'Best man is sick, get Cousin Moina to act as best man.' She asked me and I accepted agreed to the plans. Walter arrived on the day of the wedding, which was also my friend's graduation day, my friend was dressing wore her wedding dress under the graduation? dress? ?? and after graduation after that exercises were over rode over Central Park. At six 7? o'clock we drove up to the Baptist Church. It was all very homey , no fuss about it, after the wedding, the witnesses had to sign ever so many papers, there were ten of us in all. The pastor, his wife, secretary, clerk and etc. When it came my time, to sign, I signed it wrote Moina Michael, best man, everyone laughed. Walter has taught his children to cut out every picture of me and paste it in a scrapbook and write underneath it 'best man at his Daddy's wedding.'
"I was house / mother at Winnie Davis Memorial Hall when ? our country was deckared declared the World War. I gave all each of the boys I had taught a some little remembrance to take with them him. Back at Apalachee, I had ? the brightest boy in school he beat at spelling in his lessons and in every game the boys played had that rarely found ability that enabled him to excel in studies and athletics too he played. He would run to me, and say: 'miss Michael I won that game.' I would say to him reply, 'yes, Louie you have won your spurs.' He was among the last to come by to say ? War? good-bye. I told him, " Louie , I want to give you something as a little remembrance to take with you. " He had joined the Calvary Cavalry so, I told him , ' I am going to give you a pair of spurs,' he said, 'Oh, Miss Michael I was h*6po*6ing you would say that, I have everything but ? spurs.' We tried to get them in Athens however, we but couldn't find them.
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So I gave him a five dollar $5 bill. I don't think I ever saw anyone as happy, he got then bought the spurs in Atlanta on his way to Fort McPherson. He told me;? he was going to write a note saying: 'I am wearing the spurs given me by Miss Moina Michael. in war, no matter what happens to me in this war, whether I die of a natural cause or am shot down on the battle field, I want them sent back to her.' Louie was in the first victorious battle fought in France, he was one of the men who kept the wires from being cut. It was a heavy-fight, but when that battle was over he sent a message to his commanding officer saying, ' we won the battle everything is O. K. signed Louie. ' That message was flashed over the world. When the war was over, he brought those spurs to me. I took them patted him on the shoulder , saying to him , Louie you won your spurs. " She showed them to me, also with the spurs was a whistle: "This" ? " was the ? whistle blown in France that ended that to announce ending of the war.
"I was in Europe when Archduke Ferdnand Ferdinand was killed, and I? hurried home with the other Americans American tourists to keep out of the war, but I soon discovered that our country would have to join in the hostilities. I will never forget that afternoon in April when I learned that ? the United States had entered in that great war. I waited impatiently on the steps at Winnie Davis Hall , where I was housemother, for the paper boy, after getting it the paper I went to my room to read every word. ∥ I took a leave of absence from the Normal school, now the Co-ordinate College, and went to the Y. M. C. A. training Conference of at Columbia University in New York.  ∥? It was there the final step in the generation of the poppy idea came, for it was there I read a challenging poem.
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"I met with a considerable difficulty, a French woman, Madame E. Guerin, took up the poppy cause for France, and brought poppies to this country. The result ? was competition for the disabled American veterans , who were fashioning the poppies in government hospitals for one cent each. I proved that I was the first to originate had originated the idea. She gave up her the work here and later took her poppies, make? made by the French war widows , to Earl Haig and in England. The memorial poppy has gain gained wide circulation, and created our annual poppy day,? in May, 30.
"I promised a mother whose only son went down at sea on a transport, that those who went down at sea soldiers whose bodies had found a watery grave should have their definate definite floral tributes as well as those whose graves were on the land. So a poppy ? anchor is placed on the waves at Savannah of the Atlantic Ocean on each Memorial Day.
"I saw no reason why the beautiful new bridges built in Georgia since 1918 shouldn't be dedicated to our World War men who died to keep civilization on the highways alive. Through me , the Teachers Teachers' College, established its own chartered Red Cross Chapter, the/ first early school in the United States to have such a chapter.
"My foreign services were done service was in Rome, Italy, where I assisted the Embassy and the Consulate in handling the difficulties created for American turists tourists by the war. The headquarters of this commitee were in the Hotel Royal. I was presented one of the two distinguished Service Medal's which have been awarded in the United States. Haig's Legion of London, England has adopted the Memorial poppy idea, which brought a total of over $20,000,000.00 profits on Poppy Day since 1921.
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"I was a war worker assistant secretary to Dr. Irwin, President of the Y. M. C. A. in New York, and it was in our quarters Hamilton Hall in the basement of Hamilton Hall that my idea of the memorial? poppy was worked out. I think the greatest thrill I ever had was when Columbia University celebrated its one-hundred and seventy-fifth anniversity. I was the only woman mentioned in their report of that great and gigantic institution with thousands of students scattered all over the world. I was too sick to get a thrill when the state unveiled a bust of me in the State Capitol however, I don't think it was so much in honor of me as it was just a record of the state's achievements.
"Just think what I have caused the world to realize has realized from the sale of poppies each year ! just seventy million dollars. yet the world don't donate one penny toward my support and and I have barely enough to buy actual necessities. I have a letter asking for a donation toward the World World's Fair. I think they ought to be ashame ashamed of thenselves as much as I have done all ready themselves to ask me for cash. However, I am going to New York to give a talk sometime during the Fair. I told them I wanted to make it to give my speech as near Poppy Day as I possibly can. My, expenses will be paid for that trip. Requests come to me daily from people are always asking who ask for donations , I get them every day. I donated gave $750.00 to help put over the Georgia Bi-Centennial. I do appreciate all the nice things said about me. Someone said of me: 'Betsy Ross is Uncle Sam's most famous seamstress and Miss Moina is his most celebrated gardner gardener, for she planted the Memorial Poppy in the heart of the English speaking world.' I also have a medal from Serbia Syria?, brought to me by Dr. Rosalie Mortan in 1930.
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"One day last week I had a letter from a mother in New Jersey, asking me; 'what in the world is wrong ...' with the University of Georgia I wrote my son in ? and asked him if he had met you he wrote, reflected that he had not. I told him to go to see you right away.' I wrote her that the University of Georgia didn't owe me anything and they knew I live very quietly here at the hotel, that everyone here knows where to find me. if they wanted their out-of-town students to know who I am. Why, ? I don't feel important and why should anyone want to know who I am ? What I did, and am doing was is no more than any other person would have done. I only thought of it first. Everyone has some good in them, all they need is a little get up and get about them to put over what they want accomplished "I have earned every dollar I have had *7 since I began working, back in my young days *7. I began work to educate my younger sisters. I helped supported support my parents , and paying paid all my subsequent expenses for my own educational advantages the years of misfortune had left my family Senniless penniless. I moved ? them into town and when I taught in the school at Monroe. One of my brothers married and died? ? only ? then died after? a short time my other brother died a very young man. Father's health was bad. I , being the oldest, had to support my our family. When my sister , Nell Colquitt, now (Mrs. J. W. Chambley Chamber? graduated at the University she was the first woman who had ever spoken ? from that stage ? graduation? platform? ? that institution.
" now? I am too old to do much work *8 now, I was housemother at Winnie Davis Memorial Hall twenty-five years, *8. I am not ? well enough to do my own work, such as sewing and darning. A woman came to me with a pitiful tale. she didn't have work, owed a large doctors bill and the drug stores were pushing her for their money. I let
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have the money and asked her to come to my room and fix mend my clothes for me she promised ? anything until she got the money , now she won't come near me.
"Did you read in Lucian Lamar Knight's book what he had to say about me? It is very good, but when he wrote it he sent the manuscript to me to read for my approval. In a note to ? me he told? said , ' I have only given Rebecca Felton ten 10 pages and have given allowed twelve 12 for you.' I wrote him a letter and quoted what a very distinguished person said about me when he introduced me to an ordinance ? before I gave an address. He said, 'rebecca Felton belongs to Georgia, Martha Berry , belongs to the mountains, Milly Rutherford belongs to Lucy Cobb, but Moina Michael belongs to the world.' Now I told Mr. Knight, 'decide for your self if I am worth twelver twelve whole pages ??? in your book.' When I received a copy of ???? the book ?? it contained a 12- twelve whole pages designated to me page sketch of my lifetime work. I thought it was very nice to be in 'Who's Who' in America from 1932-1933.
"I have a busy day ahead of me. I am expecting an out-of-town guest, and have just bought some lovely roses for her room. I wish I had the money to maintain a little home so I could have my friends, but this is the only home I can afford. I am not afraid here, the manager is awfully good to me they do my laundry and I don't even have to buy soap. I down go with you for my mail. Every time you ask one of the helpers to do something for you they expect a tip You feel like you must tip the help for errands like that. So I try every way I can to save my nickels. I am glad you came, and don't consider yourself under no my obligation, it is just like I going to your office and you coming to mine. I am always glad to
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help when ever do what I can. Some day I hope to be well again so I can have afford? a place large enough to display some of the many lovely gifts have been? presented to me." We rode down on the elevator together, and I left her in the lobby of the hotel.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 62 of 73
Principal of Grammar School
July 27, 1939
Mary Wright Hill (Negro)
525 West Hancock Avenue
Athens, Georgia
Principal of Grammar School
By {?} B. Hornsby
PRINCIPAL OF GRAMMAR SCHOOL THIRTY-THREE YEARS
"Do have a chair. They don't look so comfortable, but they are. I'm proud of them even if they are old and out of date. My daughter wants me to sell them, but I don't intend to as long as I live because they were sent to me from Africa as a wedding gift. Bishop Harrison of Atlanta was stationed there, and as he was a good friend of our family I sent him an invitation to my wedding. These are what I got from him for a wedding gift. You'll have to excuse me a minute. I picked a gallon of figs from my own bush this morning and had just put them on the stove to make preserves; they'll burn if I don't cut the electric current from under them."
Martha is of medium height and weight. Her curly black hair is streaked with gray and is cut very short in the back, which causes it to bush out around her face. She wears glasses and has piercing brown eyes. She was wearing a blue print dress buttoned down the back, black slippers and tan hose. Her dress was none too clean, and the hose were spotted and soiled. I thought the large smudge of soot on her arm was a birthmark until she took the hen of her dress and tried to wipe it off. The contents of the room were very old but well arranged, and the general appearance showed the use of a broom had long been neglected.
She soon returned, saying to me, "I will have to talk briefly because this is my husband's busy day and I have to help him. He is an interior decorator and has a large order of shades to put up at the co-ordinate college. I went with him out to Winterville last night to hang curtains he made for a lady. No, mam, I don't know what he makes for we have never asked each other that question,
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because he has his profession and I have mine. He makes a living all right and says he has never been without a day's work in his life. He works hard and saves some for a rainy day.
"No, I wasn't borned in Athens. I came here to teach. My mother and father were born in Greenville, North Carolina. After? they married they moved to Asheville, and there is where I was born on March 6, 1881. As you can see, I am more Indian and French than Negro. My grandmother was a Negro and my grandfather was an Indian. On my grandfather's side his mother was a Negro and his father a Frenchman. When Atlanta was on a building boom he moved his family there, where he could get plenty of work to do. He was a contractor for brick work. He made plenty of money, bought a home there, and educated the three oldest children. There were six of we children, all educated from Atlanta University, but one who graduates at Tuskegee under Booker T. Washington. He took up the same trade as my father.
"My father died when I was seven years of age. Before I finished high school my mother became an invalid, and before I finished Atlanta University she lost her eyesight. My desire was to become a medical doctor. Not having funds and no one to help me, I chose teaching to help my mother and educate the younger children. My older brother and sisters helped my mother and sent me to college, but I paid most of my own way working at school while I was there.
"After I had to quit school I was given a place teaching at Oxford, Georgia, at the age of thirteen. There were two grown people teaching under me. I was paid $30 a month. With that amount my living came out of it and the rest sent home to my mother. After teaching at Oxford two years I accepted work in Athens. I taught school out here in a section called Brooklyn. I taught at Brooklyn school two years making $35 a month. At the end of that time I was elected principal of East Athens School, there I am now serving and have been there thirty-three
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years this past January.
"I was the first female colored woman to be elected principal in Athens. There was a woman appointed to fill an unexpired term, but I was the first woman elected to serve. I filled the vacancy of the principal, who accepted a position in Panama for $100, and he only made $40 here.
"When I first took the place as principal it was just a four-room wooden building with no modern conveniences. The toilets were just topsoil privies, and we get our drinking water from wells. The enrollment was around one hundred and ninety children for the five grades, and three teachers. The school has grown to a ten-room building, has 'sanisap'? toilets, running water, electric lights, and a telephone. The enrollment used to run as high as six hundred; now we have around four hundred and fifty pupils and eight teachers. One reason our attendance have decreased in that section, lots of the Negroes have moved North in order to find work, as there are not enough work here for everybody, and people are not able to pay a high price for colored help.
"I would like to tell you how I managed to get running water in that school. Not long after I took charge and began to drink that well water I began to feel bad and didn't feel like doing my work as it should be done. No matter how hard I talked to the city officials they wouldn't do anything about it. I took my drinking water from home and began to work on the State Board of Health about the conditions of the water in the section. They seat a representative down to investigate the matter. They asked me a million questions, of which they had a perfect right to do. I sent a boy to the well to get a fresh bucket of water and saw to it that the bottle I put the sample in was thoroughly clean. They took it and went on back to Atlanta. In about a mouth I got a report an that water. Headquarters said they didn't understand why there wasn't typhoid fever and other contagious diseases over there. Water was put in and not long after that the
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Principal of Grammar? School Thirty-three Years
Health Department here employed a young lady to examine all those things as they were brought to the attention of the department, and specimens were brought in to be examined.
I have done everything over there but marry a couple and embalm? a body because of financial conditions which existed in that service. I used to teach the fifth grade. Seeing that wouldn't work, because the children who reached me I found didn't have a good foundation in the beginning. For it's like this - the first grade is where? the children get their foundation for the fundamentals of school work. If they are started wrong they will have a time for the rest of their lives.
"The ? I have seen over there would make you sick. Often I have had a kid? come to school sick. Their parents at work, I have put a pallet on the floor by the heater many days and lay a sick child on it, give them milk and food, and take that child home or to some friend's house until the mother came home late in the afternoon. When I first stated teaching in the school, I wore my good clothes. I have looked down on my dress and see lice crawling on it, or have a sick child to vomit, or have a bowel action and get it on me. I decided to wear white dresses in order to see the lice when they fell on my white dress. I have had people ask me, 'why do you wear white dresses to school the year round? Are you not a nurse?' I would give them some nice answer and go on.
"I found it was necessary to know something about nursing and the care of children, not only my own, but those I taught. So I took a correspondence? course by mail and received my diploma from the Chatauqua School of Nursing, at Jamestown, New York. That course has been my salvation in caring for those children. Now when things like? I have just mentioned occur, I immediately get the mercurochrome? and wet their head in it. It kills every nit and louse on a child's head.
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Principal of Grammar School Thirty-three Years
"The school is in a Baptist center. I had an awful time when I first went over there. The first exercise was a perfect flop, as those people are on the order of Primitive Baptist. If the children had to skip or take a few steps that looked like dancing their mother would take 'em out. Now they are educated to know all those things help a child to have grace and poise, as well as to help them overcome their timidity to perform before a crowd.
"Oh, I always have enemies and there are plenty of men and women who would stoop to do anything to get my job. The superintendent called me in his office one day. I couldn't imagine what he wanted. He said, 'martha, I want to talk to you about your work, for you may have heard there are some of your race trying to get your place, but I don't want you to worry about it, so long as you are doing as fine work as you are now. Two men came in my office the other day and one of them said to me, "I understand you have an opening." "An opening for what," I asked? Well", I told him, "I don't have an opening for a man and I won't have one for you soon." 'I thanked the superintendent and left his office. That shows you how people will do you behind your back.
"I started in at $40 a mouth, but I have made $135. We teachers have been cut so I am ashamed to tell anybody what I make now. Aside from being the first woman principal, I was the first Negro woman to volunteer in this section to teach the illiterate adults, to raise Georgia in the seals of illiteracy, because she was way down. This school operated ten years and the board paid as $25 a month for nine years. I gave my services free the first year. We had an enrollment of over one hundred Negroes who could neither read or write. The classes were held two nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday, from eight until ten o'clock. The school closed because the Board of Education did not have money enough to pay the teachers.
"Also I have taught social service work for ten years. A representative
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from Washington, D. C., came down to thank me for my work. There was a contest put on in three large cities and some way Athens pulled strings and got it for the one small town to compete with all the schools here doing outstanding child health demonstration work. When I put on that demonstration and wrote my thesis I had a dream I would be the winner. When I was notified I had won the trophy, I couldn't believe my ears. And the funniest thing about it the superintendent? of our city schools didn't want me to take it home with me. His secretary said, 'Why, it doesn't belong to city. It was given by the ? and the Notary to the individual winning it. So by rights it belongs to Martha and we have no right to keep it.' Very reluctantly he presented the cup to me, saying. 'You should have civic pride enough to put it on display where everyone could see it.' I told him I surely had that and asked one of the jewelers to place it in their display windows for me. The jeweler did and insisted that I should let him polish it for me, but I liked it dull best.
Before I came to Athens to teach my mother called me to her, saying, 'daughter, there is something I want you to do. You know my days are numbered, and after I am gone there will be nobody to educate my younger children but you, so just as soon as you find a good man I want you to marry and make a home for yourself and the children, and educate them.' 'But, mama,' I said, 'why don't you tell Dora? that. She is older than I and, too, I want to study and become a medical doctor.' She plead with me and finally I told her I would. Soon after I came here to teach I met my first husband. We decided to marry. I had said I was going to have a church wedding and it took me two years to buy my clothes, as I had to send a certain part of my salary to my mother, as my sister was at Atlanta University and my brother was attending Tuskegee.
"My wedding dress and veil was beautiful and I paid a modiste who was well known in Atlanta $12.50 to make my wedding gown. I paid for every detail myself
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connected with the wedding except my bouquet, the flowers for the bridesmaids?, and boutonnieres? for the groomsmen. We were married on Christmas Day. One year from that day my oldest child was born, and eighteen months later another little girl came?. She was born on the Fourth of July. I just have the two girls. My oldest girl was four and a half years old when my husband died.
"We had just bought this home and he had just made one payment. I was determined not to lose it, and I set out to work harder than ever. I have taught all day and nursed at night. In the summer I closed my house, paid one of my sisters to keep my girls, and nursed the summer through. The girls went to the same school where I am principal. After they finished grammar school, they went to high school. After finishing there I sent my oldest girl to Fisk University, and the other one finished Atlanta University. My oldest daughter got her degree at Fisk University majoring in history. After she left Fisk she taught in Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her most outstanding work was done as social worker at that college. she was selected one of the two colored girls in America to travel in Europe with a group of white students to study students in other countries. She visited Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, Switzerland, and England. While in England a lady took a fancy to her and presented her with a lovely ring. It surely made the other students jealous. Now you need not mention this, for if you do, the Negroes will say if they know I told you, 'Old lady Martin is bragging'. Negroes are just like magpies?, always jabbering about what people are proud of. You bet I am, for I worked hard for my children and they have done well.
"The first time my daughter was offered that trip to Europe she couldn't accept it as we didn't have the money, but she told them she would be ready the next time that trip was offered to her. That trip cost us two thousand dollars. The head of the social work in New York sent a representative down to see if Viola had everything she needed. She went all through her clothes, checked her linen, and the
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only thing she didn't have was an air cushion to sit on while traveling in Europe. You know all the trains have wooden seats. I couldn't find one in Athens. Viola went to Atlanta? it? and paid $6 for that cushion. Then she returned from abroad she told me that $6 was well spent.
"That social worker told me while she was here, she had no idea Negroes in the South knew what such environment was or that they had such nice homes. We took her back to the hotel in our car. Don't misunderstand me, I am a Southern Negro and know my place. Therefore we treated her as we knew and were taught to act around white people. When she invited us to her room to have tea we refused, knowing the excitement it would create following a white woman in a hotel to have tea.
"My other daughter didn't apply herself, so she didn't do as well as the one I have just told you about. She got a job in New York as social worker. She met and married a musician. Nanette made good money, so her husband gave up his orchestra and sat down on her to support him. She had to stop work after her second child came. She lost her job and couldn't find work. After divorcing her husband, she got a job with the WPA as social worker and now is getting/ on all right.
"Viola married an Atlanta man. She has a little girl of her own and don't work any more. I often tell her she ought to do something after all the money she and I have spent on her education. However, I am proud of the man she married and hope they will make a go of it. I gave both of my girls church weddings, and as I have told you about my race, you have never heard of such a to-do as they did make over the girls' church weddings, and every one/ I heard that had anything ugly to say about it we excluded them from among our invited guests.
"I stayed single fourteen years before I married again, because I didn't want any other man having a say-so over my children. When I did marry after the girls were grown and cut on their own, the man was an overgrown, spoiled man. His people had money, and he thought because I had a nice home and a good job he would let me
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take care of him. I gave him all the chance in the world to get out and hunt work, still he wouldn't do it. So one day I said to him, 'Look here, haven't you found any work yet?' After I learned he hadn't tried, I told him it was time to get going. He thought I didn't mean it at first. When I let him know I meant what I said, he went back to his mother. About a month later she brought him back to me and begged me to take him back. I asked him if he had a job, and he told me he thought so. 'Well,' I told him, 'you didn't bring anything with you but yourself and a few clothes in a trunk, and you haven't bought one thing since you have been here. Now get your belongings and get out for good. This time I mean for you to stay out.'
"About three years ago I married my present husband, after I had got my divorce from my second husband. He is a good man and hard working. We work together and save our money so when we get too old to work we will have something to live on. He is getting old. He will be sixty-nine his next birthday and I do all I can to help him. I drive him where he has to go in my car. That saves him lots of steps. He is good to me and I try to be to him.
"He owns his own property but has it rented out. I didn't want to live in his house, so he stored his furniture and I am much happier where I have always lived. Many are the nights I have stayed awake crying when my children were asleep, wondering what I would do next and how to meet my bills, but I always found a way. Now I don't owe any money, and I rent another house I have built on the back of my lot. This was a large lot and I have often thought about that wasted space. So when I got this one paid for I bought lumber and had a nice four-room house built, and rent from it paid for the lumber. This house I live in has ten rooms. Come on and let as show it to you. I am proud of it because it represents many a hard day's work and worry."
I followed her into a bedroom. She continued to talk. "You can see how old
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my furniture is. Why, every piece in this room is at least thirty years old. You will have to excuse the dirt and dust, as we just came back Monday from a visit to my husband's daughters in Ohio." She laughed and said, "They wanted to see what their new step-mother looked like, so they sent us the money to go on. After visiting them for two weeks, we went to see my people in Chicago, then on to New York to visit my daughter. While there we took in the World's Fair.
"Come In here. I call this small room a den. I fixed this up for my husband so when his customers come he can work out their plans without being bothered." In this room was a studio couch with many bright cushions on it, Morris chair, desk, bookcase, a table with an electric lamp on it. On the floor was a gay-colored wool rug, while at the short windows were pink ? curtains and red drapes. She picked up a small notebook form the arm of the Morris chair, saying, "Well, bless my time, here is the book my husband has been looking for ever since he came back from our trip. This book he keeps his orders in and the style of curtains and draperies he draws for the customers. He will be lost without it, as he has several orders to fill right away. Now, come, let me show you the kitchen. You see I have all modern equipment as we are not able to hire our work done. Our electric stove and refrigerator are a perfect joy.
"As you can see, all the furniture in my diningroom is real old. Look at that fruit basket of Breaden china. Aren't those colors delicate and pretty? In this china cabinet I have several very old pieces of head-painted china. I want you to look at that tureen on the buffet. I never saw one like it before and I have never used it for fear of breaking it. The lamp on my dining table was a gift from a young man in California, in appreciation for what I did for his mother. I took my daughters out to Los Angeles on a visit to some school friends of mine. While I was there the woman next door was taken violently ill. We ran over to see what we could do for her. I administered first aid until the doctor arrived to keep her
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alive. When he arrived we both worked like wildfire to save her, but nothing revived her. She died three hours later with her head on my arm.
"Our time was up for us to leave to visit other places in that state. Before leaving I did all I could about the funeral arrangements before her only child could get there from Denver. After visiting several cities, we arrived home. Three weeks later I found a huge box at my front door, and when I unpacked it this is what I found. This bust of an Indian woman I bought while in Chicago. My girls laughed at me, but I didn't care. The only interest I had in it is because my mother was the image of that bust in her last days. I told you in the beginning I am more Indian and French than Negro. We are descendants of the Cherokee Indians, and my mother was only one-eighth Negro. The corner of the bust got broken some way, but I wouldn't take the world for it.
"I want you to see the room I pride more than any of the others in the house, because every place of the furniture in my living room was a wedding gift from my first husband, and other odds and ends are from close friends. A furniture store here offered me $75 for this suite, but I told him that was my price for the chairs only. Of course, the radio, piano, and that end table my trophy sits on are modern, but I have had them at least twenty years. Do you see those two large pictures of child subjects on the wall? One of my daughters told me they were so old-fashioned and out-of-date why didn't I take them to the back room. I told her they suited me and I meant to keep them where I could see them as long as I lived, for they represented the first money I ever made when I was eight years old. I kept a colored woman's children for her while she worked out for white people. She paid me $1.50 a week. I gave a $1 of it to my mother and put 50cts of it on the pictures. They cost $2.50 each, and I paid on them each week until I finished paying for them.
"No, man, I never worked for white people. Therefore, I missed my only chance
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of ever going to Europe. There was a very wealthy white man in Atlanta whose daughter married. He begged me to go with her as her maid to Europe, as he wanted an educated person who was old enough to advise her. Not having worked for white people, I was afraid I wouldn't fill my place efficiently at that age, so they sent to Washington and got a maid who was educated and had some knowledge of nursing.
"Come in the hall. I want to show you a picture of my mother that was taken after she went blind. I paid a photographer $25 to make that picture for me. One of my white friends who was a teacher - she is dead now - had a larger picture of the Madonna to fall from the wall in her room, and the corner was broken off the frame, and there were large dirty places on the canvas. The school wanted to have it repaired for her, but she told them, 'No, give it to Martha for her school. She will know just what to do with it. I took some brown wax crayon, went over the soiled places, and put each tiny piece of the broken frame back in place. It is now in my assembly room, and you can't even tell where the damaged part was. Every one of my friends know how I love pictures. That is why that lady gave me her broken picture.
"I want to show you upstairs. When the girls began to get large enough to have a room of their own, I had the roof of the house raised and added these bedrooms, bath, and sleeping porch. It is awfully hot up here. I don't use it now only when the girls come home on a visit. After I went to all this expense, my girls left home. this front room is Viola's. If you notice I have furnished the room in the color suited to her name in curtains at the window, scarves and bedspread, and scatter rugs. You can see the furniture is cheap, but good enough for us.
"This is my youngest daughter's room. It is done in pink. She isn't as fixy as Viola, and anything I did for her was all right, so that's why she had an iron bed and the other bed is wooden. Both rooms are just like they left them. This large room isn't as nice, so when they had company the girls slept in here with me.
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As you can see the furniture in this room are odds and ends of very old furniture.
"The coolest room up here is the sleeping porch". I followed her down the steps, through a curtain, and entered a small hall. The door in front of me opened into the bath room. Martha said, "I had this old wardrobe fitted in this space of the hall to hold my linens." She opened the double doors, and every shelf was filled with various household linens, put on the shelves at random. "This is the sleeping porch," she said, opening the door that leads into the room. There was a white iron bed with a candlewick spread on it, large dark oak dresser, and table with with a reading lamp on it. Martha said, "I am ashamed for you to see this room, everything so torn up. Clothes everywhere, but I did want you to see this old desk. My first husband was a barber and was employed by a Corman?, who when he went out of business gave it to my husband as a gift of appreciation for his faithful work. The man brought it to America from Germany when he came over.
"Let's go downstairs. I want to show you the goldfish pool. I made it myself with the help of a young boy I paid 50cts." When we reached the porch, she said, "Come this way to the terrace. Here is my pool. The water lilies haven't done so well this year. On real hot nights I come out here and sit in the pergola?. I am proud of my house because I bought and paid for it myself, which represents several thousand dollars. I get $10 a month for the one you see back of my house. Lots of Negroes will spend everything they make on their back, things to eat, and a car, but I try to even mine up, and I didn't buy my Dodge until I felt I could afford it.
"Then? my children were small, up the street nearer town, nothing but Jews lived along there. They used to tell me, 'martha, your children are going to be bowlegged, you walk them so far back and forth to school. Why don't you take a streetcar' 'Because I can't afford it.' I would tell them. 'that 30cts a day would buy food for us.' They stayed well, for I learned in my course the proper food to give them and
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how to prepare it. Therefore, I have been fortunate when it came to doctor bills.
"I contribute my success to hard work, saving, and praying. I joined the church when I was eleven years of age and am a member of the First Congregational Church of Atlanta, Georgia, and I promised the Lord if he would help me I would live a good Christian life and teach others the way they should live. When my children came and were old enough to understand I did my best to instill in them the way they should live. They have never disappointed me, and as a whole I am very proud of my family, for as far as I have been able to learn, generations back, all my people have been good Christian men and women.
"Yes, mam. I mean to teach as long as the Board of Education will let me. I put all there is in me in my work. Many a teacher goes to school and teaches enough to get by on. That isn't the way I do. While I am not teaching I am thinking of the children next fall, planning my work, things that are best for the children. So many children go to school without a scrap of paper or a pencil. During the summer I save every piece of paper that is useable and every pencil I find. Lots of times I find one in the street, and I pick it up even if they are not more than one or two inches long. Now next fall when school opens, when a child don't have pencil or paper, there will be plenty for those who need it."
Her husband came to the door and called his wife. "Baby, I am ready to go hang those shades now. Miss, if you hear of anybody who wants interior decorating done, I would appreciate it if you would tell them about me."
After thanking Martha for the story and telling her husband I would keep his work in mind, I left them scurrying toward the car with an armful of shades.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 63 of 73
Recovery
January 5, 1940
Mr. W. W. Tarpley (White)
5001 Nebraska Ave., N. W.
Washington, D. C.
Finance Officer in U. S. Treasury
(Bank Conservator)
By Bradley
RECOVERY
Yes, I really went through the depression. My story may not be so interesting to anyone else, but I'll be glad for you to write it."
The consultant is Mr. Raymond Tarver and he is being interviewed at his home, in a fashionable section in Washington, D. C. in appearance he is tall and rather slender. Though only in his early forties his hair is showing a decided grey and his face has lines in it that are the result of much care and responsibility. He is not a handsome man but has an expression on his face and a personality that immediately inspires one with confidence. His genuineness and his afrable disposition have won for him many friends.
His home is modern, with every comfort and convenience. The furnishings are of the best and most luxurious with an absence of any display of wealth.
"I guess, in a way," he resumed, "the depression was a blessing in disguise for me. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, you know. Of course I felt like I was ruined at the time, but if the crash had not come, I might have still been down in that little South Georgia town working for a small salary.
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"There were thousands who went down during the panic - lost fortunes, homes, business, and in fact everything. Some have survived, and many never will. A great many were too old to begin building up again. In the kind of work I'm in I have been in position to know some of the devastating effects of it, and it certainly gets on your sympathy.
"I guess you would say I am recovering from it. When I say that though, I'm not boasting, but I'm deeply grateful for the good fortunes that have came my way. Then, too, I feel under everlasting obligations to some of my friends who have helped me to get where I am.
"I had not accumulated a great deal at the time of the panic, but I did have some savings and a good job. That was the trouble, my savings and my job went at the same time. Now that was real trouble. Nobody but my wife and I knew just what we did go through.
"I was born and reared down in Laurens County, Georgia. I lived there until the depression came on, except for about a year and a half when I was drafted during the war. It seems now that I have left Georgia for good. Out of a family of seven there's only one left down there, so I haven't much to go back for.
"I came from fine old pioneer ancestors on both my father's and mother's side and I owe much to them. On my father's side there's quite a bit of interesting history. Since I have been here I find so many of my ancestors both in the District and in Virginia, I've been making a study of it. My great-great-grandfather was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, in 1765. He was a captain in the War of 1812 and also in an
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Indian war. He led the Virginia forces in 1830 which broke the South Hampton Insurrection, and captured the notorious Negro leader, Nat Turner. He received a reward of $500 from the Governor of Virginia for this. His sword belongs to a cousin of mine, down in South Georgia. My great-great-grandmother, the former Mary Manson of Virginia, was the great-great-granddaughter of Pocahontas, the Indian princess. My grandfather went from Virginia down to Irwinton, Georgia, Wilkinson County, and that's where my father was born. He went from there down to Laurens County, met my mother, and they married.
"My father was a pharmacist there for forty-five years. He was, besides that, a scholar of the highest type. He was considered one of the best read men in that section. I was one of seven children. There were eight but the first child died in infancy. My childhood was not very different to that of other children. I wasn't any better and, I suppose, no worse than other boys.
"Our parents were good old-fashioned orthodox Methodists. Father was Superintendent of Sunday School and mother always took the lead in church affairs. My! they were strict on us. Every Sunday all seven of us were carried to church and Sunday School. In the afternoons we stayed at home and read or someone read to us. We were not allowed to get out and run around and play like they do now. And reading the funnies on Sunday was unheard of. Times have certainly changed even though that has not been a great while ago. My mother changed, though, before she died, for she was much more lenient with the grandchildren than with us. Card playing, dancing, and drinking were things that we never saw in our home.
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"I graduated from high school and then went to the A & M School at Douglas, Georgia. I didn't stay there long for I got into some mischief and left and went home, I guess to keep from being sent. It wasn't so bad. A crowd of us boys raided the pantry one night and got caught up with. That was one time my daddy took my part. As a rule, if we got in trouble at school, we got in bad at home too. This was an exception. Anyway, he didn't make me go back. The next year I went to Tech. I didn't go there but one year for I was crazy to get a job and go to work.
"The first job I ever had was in my father's drug store. Then I wrote insurance awhile. I had several jobs. I've forgotten just what all I did do. Anyway, later on I got on as bookkeeper at the First National Bank. That was my first real good paying job. I had only myself to support then. I lived at home, so I began saving some money. I have been taught from childhood to put aside something out of everything you make, so I have tried to live up to it.
"There's one thing that has been a lot of help and satisfaction to me, and that is my ability to make and to hold friends. A real friend is certainly an asset. Of course, there are fair weather friends but they are not worth considering. I know something about that kind too.
"I volunteered when the United States got into war. When I was examined the doctors found me to have a slight leakage of the heart, so I was not accepted for oversea service, but was sent down to Quitman, Georgia, to serve on the local exemption board.
"That is a fine place to live, and I made some staunch friends while I was there. I identified myself with the church, sang in the
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choir, and took part in all social and civic affairs. When the Armistice was signed, I was offered a place in a bank there, so being without a job I was glad to get it. I was in this bank for two years.
"During that time many changes had taken place in my home. Two of my sisters and two brothers had married and left home. My youngest brother, who was a lieutenant in the Army, was located in Texas, so that left only one sister with my mother and father. Father was not in good health and mother had had a fall which injured her spine, so she was confined to a rolling chair five years before her death. I was really needed at home and that worried me.
"One day I got a long distance call from Dublin offering me a job back in the First National Bank where I worked before the war. My! I was glad, for while I had a good job there, I was needed at home. That, I suppose, was the turning point in my life. Had I not gone back, the depression might not have hit me so hard; on the other hand, I might not be where I am today. After I had been back in this bank awhile I was given a promotion, and that, of course, carried with it a raise in salary. I was still saving some too. I didn't invest it, but just had it on savings deposit.
"Not long after, my mother died. This was the first death in the family. It seemed so sad to think that of a family as large as ours, my sister, father, and I were the only ones left at home. The other children had all moved away to other states.
"I married the next year. For awhile we tried to live at home with
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my sister and father. Well, that didn't work so well. It seldom does, you know; no house was built big enough for two bosses.
"We moved out and began keeping house in two rooms and a bath. We didn't buy much furniture, just enough to get by with. We really began at the bottom. We were content to live that way until I saved enough to buy us a permanent home. We didn't stint ourselves by any means, but we didn't spend money extravagantly. Our first and only child, Gloria, was born while we were living in these two rooms. We needed more room, though, so we moved into a larger house and rented out half of it. We bought us a second-hand T-model Ford coupe. I don't suppose any couple ever started out life any happier then we. I was making a fine salary, had a growing savings account, and a host of friends, and no serious troubles to worry about. My wife is just the smartest , thriftiest person you have ever seen. To her I owe a lot of my successes. She is fine with her needle and crocheting, and you never saw her idle. She made all her spending money that way. Even now since we have been in Washington she keeps it up. And her fruit cake! People here rave about it. She cooks an enormous amount of it every Christmas and sells it for a big profit. She can't fill all the orders she gets. She is very resourceful and right now, if I were to die and not leave her a thing, she would manage some way. One of my hobbies was gardening and it proved to be a profitable one too. This place we rented had a fine garden spot, the finest in Dublin, so every one said. I worked in it early every morning and in the afternoon after banking hours. I sold lots of vegetables, and realized a lot on them - especially the early variety that
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that brought a good price."
"You haven't forgotten the cabbage patch, have you?" asked Mrs. Tarver, joining us. "That played an important part during the depression."
"Yes," said he, "Louise called the cabbage patch her own, and all the money she took in from it was hers. You have heard of Mrs. Wiggs and the cabbage patch. Well, the neighbors gave Louise that name.
"One morning we three were at the breakfast table when the phone rang. It was one of the fellows who worked at the bank.
"Tarver, he said, 'have you heard the news?'
"'What news? No, I haven't heard any news,' said I. What's it all about?'
"Well,' he said, "hurry on down and see.'
"If you will excuse the expression, when he said that, the seat of my britches almost dropped out. I felt like it meant trouble of some kind. I had had a terrible feeling of uneasiness over the bank for some time. Banks had been closing all over the country. There had been a run on our bank some time previous to that, but we tided that over, and since then it had seemed stronger than ever.
"I hurried down and, sure enough, in front of the bank, there stood a crowd of employees, as blank expressions on their faces as I've ever seen. They were too dumbfounded to be excited even.
"The bank was closed and a notice to that effect on the door. We stood there just looking at each other until finally one said, 'Well, boys, guess we had better go on the inside and see if we can find out what it's all about. I guess there goes our jobs.'


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"Not only my job was in the balance but my savings were gone, at least for the present.
"No one knows, unless they have experienced it, what it means to work in a place under such conditions. Of course, there were promises that the bank would soon open up and resume business and begin paying off. That gave the depositor something to hope for at least. The sad part was, this was the strongest bank in this town. In fact there had already been several failures, so this was almost the only bank open for business. It was a national bank too, so everybody thought their money was safe. We worked on awhile. To be frank, I didn't worry so much about my losses. I was so concerned about the other fellows. People were losing their homes and some their savings of a lifetime. The saddest part of it was to see widows who probably had been left a little insurance and had put it all in the bank. People have a feeling that all connected with a bank, from the directors, president, on down to the lowest employee, are responsible for a bank failure and that makes you feel bad.
"What do you think caused the depression?" he asked. "Well, almost everyone will tell you something different. Usually they will speak from a personal standpoint. Ask a farmer down in that section and they will say, 'the boll weevill'. The merchant will tell you, inflation in prices during the war and the slump following. The Florida boom eventually brought disaster in that state. I'll tell you more about that later. I haven't told you yet how the depression affected me personally. We worked on at the bank trying to get things in shape, with no hopes deep
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down in our hearts of ever opening up again. Of course, we couldn't tell people on the outside that. We tried to appear hopeful. One by one they began laying off employees and I knew, sooner or later, my time would come. I didn't worry very much right then because I was young and, with my experience and standing in the town, I just knew I would not have any trouble getting work. I soon found out, though, I was mistaken in that.
"Well, my turn came to be laid off. On my desk one morning I found a letter to that effect. Of course it read, 'With appreciation for my valuable service, deep regret, best wishes, etc.' But that didn't help my feelings much. My job was gone and my savings too. Except for the time I served during the war, that was the first day I was without a job since I was just a boy. I went on home to break the news to Louise. She was not suprised, for we had both been expecting it.
"I didn't lose any tine worrying but got my hoe and went to the garden. Oh, that garden was a lifesaver to me in more ways than one. Some way, you can't worry and watch things grow all at the same time.
"I don't remember just how long I went without work, but it seemed a long time to me. Funds were getting mighty low but we said nothing about it. My idea of stepping right into another job was erroneous. In normal times I could have, but then there were no jobs to be had. Of course, I preferred work in my line but soon saw I would do well to get a job at anything.
"I was blessed with friends and, even though we were cutting down expenses in every way and could not live as we always had, my friends
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were as staunch as ever. They tried to help me every way possible to get work.
"We were occupying four rooms then with a bath and a Kitchen. We were lucky enough to rent two of those rooms out to a couple who wanted to do light housekeeping. The rent from those rooms, together with the rent from the apartment already rented, took care of the rent, lights, and water of the whole house.
"When I saw there were no jobs to be gotten in Dublin, I began looking in other towns where I thought there were prospects. Soon my money was getting so low I couldn't afford to take any more trips in search of employment, so I just had to be patient. That is hard to do and I got awfully blue too.
"I got a temporary job in the office at the ice plant. That didn't pay much but it helped a lot. We counted our nickels too. Fall came on and business fell off at the plant. I wasn't laid off, but I realized they didn't need me but were just letting me stay on out of sympathy and I couldn't stand that so I simply quit.
"Then I was taken on as night clerk at one of the hotels. If I hadn't had a family that would have worked out fine until I could do better. I got all my meals and a nice room and I was supposed to sleep during the day. It didn't pay much in money and kept me away from home practically all the time.
"It almost never fails, though, that hard times and sickness go hand in hand. There was a terrible flu epidemic and Louise had a severe case of that, followed by pneumonia. I put her in the hospital and for several
Page 11
days it looked as if she would be taken from me. My friends truly rallied to me in those days. Part of the time Gloria stayed with me at the hotel, and friends by the score offered to keep her for me. Louise recovered but expenses pilled up, for she had to have good nursing and nourishment even after she was carried home.
"Just as I was getting in the dumps about a regular job, I was notified to report at once, to act as assistant receiver for a defunct bank in Florida. They were feeling the depression there even more than we were in Georgia, and banks were closing every day.
"To go back a little in my story. I had a good friend, in fact I went to school with her, who was secretary to one of our United States Senators from Georgia. Through her I was fortunate enough to gain his friendship and interest. I had my application and photograph on file with the banking department in Washington, and it was through his influence that this job opened up.
"That was a happy day for us. Our friends didn't know it, but I didn't even have enough money to take the trip but I borrowed it. The question was, how was the family to live until I got my first check? Of course I had to leave them there until I could get able to move them.
"Don't you worry,' said Louise, 'there's always a way. Don't forget I still have my cabbage patch.' That was no joke either.
"It was miraculous? the cabbage she did sell. Then she couldn't sell them she would swap them for other things she needed. She even paid off her help with cabbage.
"That was a happy day for us all when I drove my old T-model out of
Page 12
the yard headed for Florida. I left Louise and the baby on the porch waving at me.
" 'Now don't look so sad,' said she, 'well be down there with you before you have time to miss us.'
"From that day life has been a different thing to me. I have worked hard and had lots of responsibilities, but from a financial standpoint it has been on the up-grade. I don't mean at all that our troubles were over. We had to watch our expenses so close.


"I moved my little family, when I had been on my job just two months. She sold out everything we had except her machine and the baby bed. We rented a small house ready furnished. Luckily we went down before the tourist season opened up, so we got our rent cheap, and the people we rented from didn't raise our rent either when winter came on. By the way, we rented from Georgians.
"We soon became established in the civic and social life of the town and moved our church letters, so it didn't take us long to really feel at home.
"We owed some bills back home that had accumulated when I was out of work, and as soon as possible I began paying those up. It was a struggle but we paid them all up before we stopped. Another misfortune came to us. Our Ford was stolen from us, and not a penny of insurance. We did without a car for awhile for we didn't really need one then except for pleasure.
"That was right after the real estate boom and the whole state was in a panic. Banks were still closing until it was hard to get enough
Page 13
receivers for them. Oh, we did work. Banks in neighboring towns were added to our work until we were liquidating six banks at one time, all in different places. I had to have another car then but was lucky to pick up a good used car almost at my own price. People had lost their cars as well as their homes, so it was no trouble to buy a good used one.
"Sometimes I would ride to all six of these banks in one day and when night came I would be completely given out. I couldn't stop even then, for there was scarcely a night that we didn't work.
"One morning, after reading his mail, the receiver says, 'tarver, how would you like to go to Virginia?' I didn't answer for a minute.
" 'Well he says, 'I'm going to liquidate a big millionaire bank that has closed its doors, and you can come along, too, if you like.'
" 'sure I'll go, and be glad to.' Well, we made another move, to a better job and, of course, a bigger salary. We left Florida though, I'm glad to say, in better shape financially than we did Georgia. We were out of debt and beginning to save some money again. Mr. Despard, the receiver, and his wife went on ahead on the train and I followed with Louise, Gloria, and his two children in the car. We had discarded the baby bed by this time so only had the machine to ship. Louise just couldn't part with that. We lived in Virginia four years, and those were four of the most satisfactory years of my life. We had learned about hard times to teach us the value of money, and even though money was not so scarce we still lived conservatively. Virginia people are fine to live among. They were having failures there just as they were in
Page 14
Georgia and Florida, but they didn't talk hard times as much.
"One night after we had retired, the phone rang, and it was Mr. Despard. He had had a call from the banking department wanting to know if they could borrow me for two weeks. We were surely excited over that call and didn't sleep another wink that night.
"This was at the time the President declared the moratorium. All banks were closed, you remember, for a short period of time, and only those banks found to be in good condition were allowed to re-open. Well, a number of banks remained closed, so many they didn't have sufficient men in Washington to look after them. That was why they were calling for extra help.
"I went the next morning thinking it was only temporary, but had not been there two hours before I was asked how long before I could; move my family. Well, it looked like I was a fixture. I told him I could not move until June since my little girl was in school. I began work and, when school closed, my family moved and we have been here ever since. My salary was more than I ever hoped for and, since it was more or less due to political influence, I felt a little insecure in my job for a while. I have been here six years now. For awhile we lived in a furnished apartment, but last September we bought this home and furnished it. This property is a good investment. It is in a section that is developing and will increase in value all the time. I decided that I wouldn't put all my savings in the bank this time. I'm carrying good insurance, so in case anything happens to me my family will be well protected. My home is not entirely paid for but I have made a substantial
Page 15
payment down on it and am paying the balance monthly.
"My job is purely political, and one never knows what might happen. I enjoy my work but it carries with it many responsibilities and I work hard. I have a tremendous number of banks under my supervision. I employ eight stenographers and two secretaries. One office is in the Washington Building, just across from the White House. If you have time while you are here, come down and I'll show you through the building, and also the Treasury Building.
"Of course the depression made a decided difference in our mode of living. We cut expenses down to a minimum and, if it had not been for Louise's resourcefulness, I don't know how we would have weathered it.
"It did not make any material difference in our friends or standing in the community. I had the confidence of every one and was able to retain it. I have some fine friends here in Washington. It is due to some political friends that I'm here. I appreciate them, too. There are so many Georgians here that we have never felt lonely.
"Politics is something that I feel very strongly but talk little. I think our present administration the finest and most far reaching we have ever had. A tremendous lot has been done to help the country recover from the depression, and here in Washington we feel very keenly any harsh criticism of those in power.
"It is a great thing to be here in the merry-go-round but sometimes I get tired of it all and wish I could get out in my garden back down in Georgia, and Louise says she will never cease to miss her cabbage patch."
*

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 64 of 73
Reminiscence
REMINISCENCE
Written By:
Mrs. Leola? T. Bradley
Research Field Worker
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
Edited By:
Mrs. Maggie B. Freeman
Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Athens -
WPA Area - 6
October 10, 1939
September 27, 1939
Mrs. Louie D. Bradley (White)
424 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, Georgia
Ex-teacher - WPA Worker
Bradley - REMINISCENCE
"My childhood was not very different from that of the average child. I was born down in Dublin, Georgia, Laurens County. My father was a Pharmacist there for forty-five years. I was one of seven children - four brothers and two sisters. My mother was one of the most devout Christians I have ever known. Father was a fine man too, but somehow children, as a rule look more to the mother for spiritual guidance. There has never been a happier home than ours was. Large families are happier than small ones I think. We had our squabbles as most children do. Sometimes we were sad then again we were glad. We loved a lot and fussed a lot. We lived comfortably but not luxuriously. Father did not believe in indulging children too much.
"My father and mother were both musical and with only one exception all of the children inherited that talent. Most of us had good voices and we played not only on the piano but other instruments. We had an old organ that had been handed down to my father from generations back. We would gather around at night and sing
Page 2
to mothers accompaniment. When we were old enough to take music lessons a piano was bought.
"I was the youngest girl so my brothers and sisters thought I was the favorite, but I really don't think there was any preference shown.
"Father, in those days did not believe in Public Schools, so along with three or four other families, we went to a private school. This teacher has now retired and lives in Milledgeville, Georgia. Since I went to this private school, I did not have to wait until the required age to enter, so began very early. After several years we entered the public school, and as I was well advanced, I graduated very young.
"I displayed a decided talent for music, at any rate every one thought so, and I was given every advantage both in piano and voice.
"I was too young, my parents thought, to go away to college so they decided to keep me at home a year.
"Funny how little things can turn your whole life.
"One night I was in bed just recuperating from a cold, the telephone rang and it was the school Superintendent under whom I had graduated. He had been called over long distance by a superintendent of a school, in a neighboring town, asking him to recommend
Page 3
a music teacher. The one they had run away and married.
"Well, to make a long story short I went down there to finish out the term. Never did any one feel so little and helpless as I did, when I started out on my first job. I never will forget my trip down to this place. I went on the train and though it was only a short distance, I had to change trains at a little junction. Well, much to my dismay when I reached this junction my train had left me. There was nothing to do but spend the night. I knew this depot agents wife, so he carried me to his home for the night. To go back a little I tried to dress myself up to look the part of a dignified teacher. I had a hat with a feather on it, of which I was very proud. That night we went up the street to visit some friends. When we returned there were feathers - feathers all over my room. Much to my chagrin the cat had gotton hold of my cherished hat and torn the feathers completely up. The next morning we got up, found some ribbon and fixed my hat and I went on my way, reaching my destination around eleven o'clock.
"In a small town the teacher forms, to a certain extent, the social life of the community so every one was curious to know how the new music teacher was going to look. I learned this later.
Page 4
"As no one met me at the train, I walked up the street to the little hotel, which was only a short distance. On my way I passed two men who scrutinized me rather closely, not rudely, but in an interested sort of a way. They were not old as we term age today but were considerably older than I - nice looking, well dressed. I hurried by but unfortunately I dropped my bag. As I paused to pick it up I heard this remark. 'You can have her, Drew. I'm not running a kindergarden'. I did not dare look back to see which one made this remark but it wasn't long before I found out. Well, anyway he changed his mind before the year was out. Five years later we were married.
"I did not accept a teachers place the following term for I wanted to go to college. In September I went away to a College and Conservatory of Music out in Mississippi. People wondered why I didn't go to one of our fine Georgia Schools but there were several reasons. One was, I was given a scholarship. Then, too, after the first year I was given a tutors place in the Conservatory and helped pay my own way through school. I went there four years and the last term I was a full fledged teacher. I was young to be on the faculty, but I have always been a hard worker and conscientious, so I think I made good. During that time I was also studying. The third year I was there I took my AB degree and my BM degree, majoring in
Page 5
voice. The fourth year I took a BM degree, majoring in piano.
"Well, I had promised Mr. Bailey I would marry him as soon as I finished college, but when I came home that summer my mother begged me so hard to stay at home with her a year, I did. I felt that I was due her that much. Mr. Bailey didn't like it much but he couldn't do anything about it, so he waited.
"I was elected to teach piano and voice in my home town school, so in that way, I could work and still be with my mother. My fiancee was not very far away in the little town where I had done my first teaching, so I got to see him several times a week. I've never regretted staying with my parents that year. I was really too young to marry anyway.
"The following June I was married. I won't say that my married life began with the very brightest outlook - that is too broad a statement, but I do know it seemed to me I was the happiest creature on earth. I just wondered if it would last. Well, in one respect it did. It was not unmixed with clouds, adversities and disappointments. We all have those if we live long enough. Our love was the one bright star that was never dimmed. But there, I'm getting ahead of my story.
"Mr. Bailey was a big merchant in a small town. He had only a high school education, but his many years of
Page 6
experience had taught him more, perhaps, than he ever would have learned in books. He was a number of years older than I - loved home and at meal-time and at night he loved to be there.
"People thought we would not be congenial for while I loved my home, I was not quite so settled in my ways. Those things adjusted themselves.
"He did not know one note from the other, nor could he carry a tune, but he learned to love opera and other cultural things as well an I. In other word the longer we lived together, the more congenial we became.
"Our first baby, a girl, was born when we had been married about two and a half years. That same fall we made enough to finish paying for our business. He did not have it entirely paid for when we married.
"Our next goal was a home of our own. We were paying rent then. I was a little inclined to want a car first. Numbers of my young friends had them; but my husband insisted that a home was more important right then. In January just as the World War broke out, we built our home. I see now, it was a mistake to have built the kind of home we did, in such a small place. I could not see what the future held for us. It never occured to me, but what we would both always be there
Page 7
and times just as prosperous as then.
"Like most merchants, Mr. Bailey prospered during the war. Afterwards, though, there was a terrible slump in merchandise and our business suffered a terrible blow. We took it with a smile; we just cut down our mode of living, but were just as happy.
"My husband was old fashioned in his ideas of what women should and should not do.
"One night he came hose from work with a part cross and part hurt expression on his face. I was worried for he was usually in a good humor. I didn't say anything, just waited for him to speak. 'Well', he said, 'I was certainly hurt end surprised at something I heard this afternoon.' Why, what have I done, I said? 'I never thought the time would come,' he said, 'when my wife would take part in politics.'
"Well, I didn't vote that year. After that his views began to change and soon he was taking me to the polls every election day. I don't take any active part in politics, but I vote my convictions. I think every woman should do that. I am interested in public affairs, but I don't go wild over elections like some people. Of course, I think we all get a 'kick' over seeing our man go in.
"I didn't do any work outside of my home the first years of our married life. It wasn't necessary from a financial standpoint. My husband thought I had plenty to
Page 8
do, to look after our home and little girl. I took an active part in church affairs. I am naturally religiously inclined and was reared in that kind of atmosphere. I kept up my music, especially voice. I did lots of club work too. At one time I was first District Director in the Georgia Federation of Music Clubs. So, even though I lived in a very small country town, my activities were not confined to my environment.
"My husband was unusual in this respect. He was very ambitious about my voice. Not many men would consent for their wives to leave them and go away for three months at a time to study. Well, he did, and not only that, he gave me the money. One thing, he knew that I had been accustomed to a larger town and felt that I needed a change. So instead of taking just pleasure trips each summer, I would go away to study.
"One summer I spent in Atlanta. I had only one child then, so I took a little apartment and kept house for three months. He spent his vacation with us and also came up for week-ends. I look back on that an being one of the happiest summers of my whole married life. I studied under Miss Lula Clark King. She is still teaching in Atlanta. She helped me lots.
"The next summer I went to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois. I continued my voice lessons and also studied Public School Music. The following summer
Page 9
I completed that course. I don't consider any musical education complete now without Public School Music, in fact; even school teachers now have to know how to teach it.
"After I completed this course in Chicago, I began coming to the University of Georgia summer school. That was during the time when the University had such a fine school of music. They had one whole week during each summer devoted to Grand Opera, concerts etc. The best of talent was assembled here for that week. It was truly a gala occasion. Mr. George Folsom Granberry, of New York, was director of the School of Music, and also directed Opera. He was nice to me and I feel that I owe more to him than any musician I have ever contacted. He gave me outstanding parts in Opera. That helped to broaden my musical career more than? all the study I had had. I kept that up for seven consecutive summers. Sometimes, I would feel badly over spending so much money on myself, but the time came later in life when I was truly glad that I had not spent my time in idle pleasure.
"We were a little disappointed that our family was? so small, for we still had one child. I like large families when you can give them what they need to become good citizens. Just as we had resigned ourselves to just one child, along came a little boy. No need to tell you we were happy, we were just thrilled to death. We named him Louie for his
Page 10
father.
"About that time I began to realize that finances were getting bad. Mr. Bailey said little about it, but I knew he was worried, though he tried to hide it. Our business had never quite recovered from the depression following the war.
"I had had several opportunities to help out the family budget by teaching, but my husband would not consent on account of the children. I was soon to find out, that life was not always to be as carefree as it had been so far. When our boy was one year old, he was stricken with colitis in its worst form. I nursed him, with the help of friends, for four weeks. He began to get better, but was in a terribly weakened condition. Then he developed double pneumonia. I felt that we could never pull him through that, but we did. The Lord certainly must have spared him for some good purpose. I don't know yet, for in some respects, he has had one of the sadest lives of any child I've ever known.
"Well, troubles never come singly. Since then my life has been full of adversities. Before Louie had regained his strength, our little girl was rushed to a neighboring town for an emergency appendix operation. All this sickness was a terrible strain on us, mentally, physically and financially. When Mary was able to return home from the hospital and little Louie was on the road to recovery, we thought surely our troubles were over for a while.
"One afternoon a short while later, I was on the porch
Page 11
with the baby, when two ladies drove up to the house. They introduced themselves, told me they were looking for a voice teacher, and asked if I would consider taking them. Well, I said, I have taught a good bit in my life, but not lately. I then told of all the sickness I had had, and what a care my children were. They insisted, so I finally told them I would teach them.
"They lived twenty miles away and were to drive over twice a week for their lessons. That was the beginning of my returning to my profession. Soon other pupils began coming and in a short while I had all the pupils I could teach, right in my own home.
"It was the wisest decision I ever made too, for in November we lost our business. Mr. Bailey did a big credit business. That, along with the depression, just ruined his. That left us about where? we first started out. We had our home though, and I was teaching, so we still felt that we had such to be thankful for.
"Well Mr. Bailey soon got him a job traveling, selling flour and feed-stuffs. He didn't make anything like the money we had been accustomed to having, but with my help we managed. Once more we thought our difficulties were over, for a while at least.
"One night we were sitting at the supper table and all at once he began gasping for breath. His face was ashy white. I hurried him to the room, ran to the phone
Page 12
and soon the doctor was there. I have never seen such suffering as my husband endured. The doctor sat by him all night, and just before dawn he seemed to rest a little easier. When the doctor left, he told me that the trouble was Angina Pectoria?, and in the worst form. I began to realize then what was before me, two children and a husband, who could likely be taken from us at any time.
"I was elected to teach piano-voice and public school music, in a school sixteen miles away. I knew it meant leaving my home and children, a good part of the time, but I accepted the place. It seemed that some kind providence was coming to our rescue in every emergency. I taught there in the same school for seven years, commuting in my car. Most of that? time Mr. Bailey was not able to work and I was the only support. He helped me lots with the children. Mary, of course, was in school, but little Louie was not old enough, so he was his dady's constant companion.
"After about six months my husband was able to go to work again. He bought out a small grocery store and things began to look brighter for us.
"Mary graduated from high school, and then came the question of sending her to college. With the help of a sister of my husbands, we entered her at the University of Georgia. I brought her to Athens on Monday, September 25th. The following Wednesday night she was called back. The death
Page 13
angel visited our home, taking the beloved husband and father. Even though I knew for several years he would probably go suddenly and at any time, I was not prepared for it. He dropped dead on his way home from work; little Louie and his dog were the only ones with him at the time. Those were truly dark days for us, and for a while, it seemed that I just could not take up life again. But I did, for I had my two children to live for and who had to depend on me for everything. Mary returned to the university after a week, and I resumed my teaching. Louie too was in school, had just entered. That fall was the loneliest I ever spent, but we made the best of it. I took a couple in to board with us and that helped lots.
"Mr. Bailey did not leave us a great deal. He had borrowed on his insurance, always hoping he would get in physical condition to take out more. But he never did. We owned our house though and had a few thousand in cash. I was not afraid of the future for I felt capable of earning a living for my children. Money takes wings though when sickness comes. When Mr. Bailey had been dead only three months, Louie was taken desperately ill, 'pneumonia!' the doctor said. After a few days though we noticed a slight swelling in his hip and he began complaining of pain. As soon as we could we got him to a hospital for Xray. Ostromylitis was the diagnosis, bone infection in the worst
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form. For six months it was a battle between life and death. Then, too, I was faced with the possibility of his being a cripple even if his life was spared.
"Doctors, hospital, nurses? and operations played havoc with my little bank account for I gave him the best attention I knew how. The strain was beginning to wear me out both physically and financially. I was trying to teach all day and stay with him at the hospital at night. I saw he was getting no better at that place, so with the help of friends, I got him at the Scottish Rite hospital at Decatur?. That was the saving of him. He was there for two years. They let me bring him home for Christmas, but I carried him right back. That is truly a wonderful place. It's true he is left a cripple, but had it not been for the Scottish Rite he would not be here now. He is still under their care. I have to carry him back at intervals for examinations. In another year he is scheduled for another operation on his hip. That is to try to lengthen his limb and correct his limping.
"When he was dismissed from there it seemed that there was nothing for me to do, but give up my teaching and stay at home with him. He was on crutches and had to have lots of special care. So I resigned my job. Thats how it happens that I am not teaching today I guess. You know when you once get out of your profession, it's hard
Page 15
to get back especially at my age. There are so many teachers without jobs.
"After Mary finished her second year at the University of Georgia I decided to give her a secretarial course. I took her to Washington D.C. and entered her at Strayers Sea School. She lived with my brother. She was very lucky for through influence of some political friends there, she got a job in three months time. It was only a short time though before she fell in love, almost at first sight, and married. That was a blow to me at first, but on second thought I was really happy over it. Then when I met her husband I was even more so. Yes, she married a fine man and into a fine family. Her husbands father is American Consul General to Liepzig?, Germany. I feel so sorry for him now during this European crisis. They have not been able to hear from his parents since early? in August. 'that is off my subject though.'
"Finances were getting so bad with me that on the advice of friends of mine, I moved to Athens, Georgia. My idea was to open up a boarding house. I thought I could do that and be at home with my crippled child, too.
Well, thats the last thing I should have done. I know how to keep a nice house and set a nice table, but I knew absolutely nothing about the financial side of it. I opened up a lovely place on Prince Avenue, and right there is where I lost the last of my little savings. The sad part
Page 16
is, I even sold my little hose in South Georgia and invested it. That too was gone. Then I began losing my nerve and my health. My boy too had several severe attacks of illness and that took more money. I saw there was no more boarding house for me, so I stored what I had in the way of furniture, sold part of it, and began looking for work
"As a last resort I went down to the Welfare Office and was certified for WPA work. My sister-in-law took my boy for me and found a little boarding school and put him there until I could get work. He just has to have good care. My first WPA assignment came right out of a clear sky - as they all do for me. I had given up hopes. Imagine my chagrin when I opened up my slip and read - 'Library Project' - book repairer 25¢ per hour. Of all things in the world I had never done, mending a book was the most unthought of. I soon learned it to be very fascinating work. Just to make an old book to look like new was really worth while. Anyway I was learning something I never expected to know. It was hard work and not much pay either, but it was honest. That project closed in two months. From September 10th to January 3rd of this year, I was without work. I can hardly tell you how I managed. My boy did not suffer though for he was still in this little school. By the way, it is a Catholic School and they certainly do take good care of him. He learns rapidly
Page 17
down there. You see, two years of his school life was spent in the hospital so he is behind in his studies.
"The WPA is a wonderful plan, I think, to give employment to people who really need it. The greatest trouble with me, it has not been continuous work. I get so behind with finances between jobs. Then too, while no one expects a big salary on WPA, I would like to make enough to give my boy the necessities of life. His shoes alone cost me twenty dollars per pair, besides the fare to Atlanta to get them fitted.
"My next WPA job began January 3rd of this year. It lasted six months, and the pay was better than on the first one. I liked that fine. I was a field worker on the Real Property Survey. We made two surveys of Athens.
"At first I felt funny going into all kinds of places and contacting all sorts of people, but I got over that. I have to meet people, so on the job I certainly had a good opportunity and made a lot of friends. I was not accustomed to walking either, but I learned to do that too. Since working on that survey I feel that I know every mook and corner of Athens.
"Well, that job closed and I was wondering what I would do next. It seemed for six weeks that I wouldn't do anything. Again unexpectedly came another slip assigning me to what was then called the Federal Writers' Project. Since then it has been changed to Georgia Writers' Project. I like it very much especially the interviews and the
Page 18
research work. As for my writing - well I'm trying, but I'm afraid those people in Atlanta think I'm hopeless.
"I think President Roosevelt is a wonderful man in many, many respects, especially his conceiving the idea of helping the unemployed. I appreciate the work, but of course I prefer private employment and I am striving for it all the time. There are other WPA jobs I might be better suited for. Music is my profession and of course I prefer something that I can do well. In other cities I understand, there are projects for musicians. Athens does not have one however.
"My mode of living of course is not what it once was, but my ideals are just as high. Money does not mean everything and even doing without luxuries does not kill. I attend church regularly and when Louie is at home he goes with me. We are both members of the First Methodist Church and I sing in the choir there. I can't take any part in social functions any more nor in club work. I don't have the time or money, but those are not essentials anyway. My one ambition now is to see my boy grow into manhood, with just an high aspirations as his parents had.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 65 of 73
Reminiscence of a Negro Preacher
REMINISCENSE OF A NEGRO PREACHER
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 7, 1939
October 31, 1939
Alonzo Power (Negro)
Danielsville, Road
Route # 1
Athens, Georgia
Preacher
I. B. Hawkes REMINISCENCE OF A NEGRO PREACHER
In talking to the owner of a tourist camp one day, I asked the whereabouts of a negro by the name of Lonnie Pondly. The owner replied, "Yes, he lives the third house down that lane. You know he is a preacher?"
I answered that I didn't and then added that I would be glad to have the chance to talk to a colored preacher.
I went down the white sandy lane and found a two room house. It had no front yard at all, no grass or trees for shade and no porch. I knocked on the door and a man answered.
"Who do you want to see?" he asked. I told him that I wanted to see Lonnie Pondly. In a short time I heard a door shut and I looked around and saw an old man walking around the house. "Yes Ma'am, this is Lonnie Pondly." He volunteered. "Good morning!" Good morning Uncle!" I said. "Do you have a little time to spare this morning?" "Yes Ma'am, he said, with a broad smile.
It was a cool day although the sun was shining very bright. I asked him to sit in the sun so we could talk better. I found that Uncle Lonnie had a very good education for a negro of his type and that his English was fairly good. He seemed to know what I came for because he said:
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"Well, I was born in Madison County, six miles from Danielsville about eighty years ago in 1859. I was a slave, Miss, but a happy one. My young Mistess and Marster's names were Nancy and John Lester. My father's Marster's name was Jimmie Nunn. He lived on the Danielsville Road. My father would have to get a pass from Mr. Jimmie to come to see my mother. You see they were on different plantations. He got to come to see my mother twice a week. If he slipped out without the pass the patterollers got after him and if he out run them and got back to his Marster he was safe, but if he didn't he got a whipping. Twenty-five licks was what he would get.
"As far back as I can remember is when us little niggers was just big enough to run around. Mistess would be so good to us. She would always pay us in some way to help her. She would say, 'Bring me some water; git me some on the north side of the spring so it will be cool' or 'pick up some bark for me and I will make some candy for my little niggers.' Lawd Miss, you ought to have seen us little niggers scramble after that water and pick up those chips. My Mistess would not let anyone whip us, not even my mother or father. Sometimes her daughter, Miss Sallie, would get mad with us for a trifle and start to whip us. You ought to have heard us yell, Old Mistess, Old Mistess, Out she would come. Her curse word was 'drat your infernal soul. You just want to beat my little niggers to death.' she would say. Then Miss Sallie would leave arunning.
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"Oh, we were the happiest little souls in the world. Old Miss would never consult a doctor. She was as good as any of them. When we got sick we didn't say stomach. We would holler Old Mistess and she would come a running and ask, 'What is the matter with my little niggers now?' My belly hurts, I'd day. She always kept some medicine made of chinaberry roots. 'Now take this and Mistess will give you some candy.'
"My grandma was the cook she would throw on a ten foot pole and let it burn to ashes and then make pones of bread. She would then put them in the ashes and when they cooked a while she took the shovel and throw ashes over them. When the were done she taken 'em out washed them and greased them. Yes Ma'am, they was good. We would go to the bottoms and find mussel shells, That is where we got our spoons that we ate with. We had plenty to eat; you see, Mistess and young Marster wanted their niggers to grow up healthy like our father. He was a big healthy nigger. They would say it aint no trouble for a big healthy nigger to get married.
"I remember one time they was sending us out to hoe? cotton. I decided I didn't want to go, so I pitched a big fit. Instead of hoeing the cotton I laid down and started grabbing it with my teeth. Marster came out and sent me to the house. He said I never would amount to nothing. He didn't let me go to the field no more that year. He thought I was sick.
"There was plenty of potatoes, corn, wheat and everything
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else that is raised on a farm, but Marster would never raise over one bale of cotton. We had ox carts in those days. I can remember when it taken two weeks to go to Augusta and back with that bale of cotton. Shoes were brought back for us all. Mistess got a dress and the rest was brought back in money. I remember when we didn't have no gins, us little niggers would pick out the seek with our hands. My mother would card it; my grandma would spin it. She put it on brooshes and made a bank, everytime it filled it would click, then she started another one. Young Mistess was the weaver and she made all our clothes. That reminds me, Miss, we just wore one garment, a long dress. The only way I could tell the difference in my sister's clothes and mine was mine had a little yoke on it.
"We used to all go to the same church, colored and white. We would sit on one side. I would always go with my grandma. She would put her shoes in her pockets and when we got in a mile of the church she put her shoes on. When we left she would pull them off and go on home bare-footed.
"The preacher made my uncle Harry a deacon and when they served bread and wine Uncle Harry would come down the aisle and pass it around. You know, Miss, they had to break the ice to baptise. Uncle Harry's churches was not up to date like they are now. Us niggers had to have a pass anywhere we went, church and all. They never kept you from going anywhere, but you had to have that pass and it read pass and repass. There would be twenty-five white men who were called
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patterollers, as I have told you before, and they would watch and could tell when one of the negroes didn't have a pass; his feet just would not stay on the ground, cause he was so nervous.
"When we had big dances the patterollers would be in the middle, us slaves would be on each end, and if the patterollers made a start to arrest one of the negroes for disobedience we would always have a fire and one of us would dip up a shovel of hot coals and throw it at them. By the time they got through dodging the hot coals we would be gone home to our white folks.
"Some of out happy days was when we hauled up the corn and we could swing on the wagons. They was sho happy days. You know, Miss, in slavery time if any of the slaves was disobedient their owner's would hold them 'till the speculators came around. Then they was sold. If the women had children it made no difference - they had to leave them - or if the man had a wife he had to go just the same. I remember when the Yankees came through, one big Yankee come up to my pa and said, 'I will give you my horse and blanket if you will show me all the old rich bugs.' Pa said, 'wait let me get my shoes.' Instead of putting on his shoes he run through the house and yelled, 'Everybody turn loose the horses.' All the Yankees horses were old broke down horses and they would take ours.
"If a man wore a vest the Yankees thought he had a watch. One big Yankee walked up to Uncle Harry and said, 'take off that vest.' Another one said, 'Let the dam fool alone, can't you see he has no watch.' All the time Uncle harry had it hid under the wood pile. Just as soon as Uncle Harry got a chance
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he threw his vest in the swamp. One Yankee walked up to Mistess and said, 'How come you got such a big bosom, give me all that money.' Mistess said, 'I haven't got any money.' The Yankee took his knife and cut Mistess' dress open and gold and silver went everywhere. It was awful.
"Mr. Franklin was my Marster's older brother. The Yankees got him and hung him up by his toes. He would not tell where his money was. Then they hung him up by his neck; he could hardly whisper, still he would not tell them where his money was. The Yankees yelled at one of his men to bring him the auger. He got poor old Mr. Franklin down and started boring in his head. Mr. Franklin said, 'Please don't kill me, I will tell, it is under a pile of rocks int he garden in an old trunk.' They got all of poor old Mr. Franklin's money.
"Yes Ma'am, Miss, we stuck to our Marster and Mistess. When they trusted their niggers they would give them all their valuables to keep or hide for them. I can see one of the niggers on the place now. Marster gave him his watch to keep form him. He put it in his vest pocket. The chain stretched across his stomach. he walked out where the other niggers was, pretending they was Yankee's. He rared back and put his fingers on his vest and said, 'Now take it away from me like you would old Marster.' He was so proud to get to wear his Marster's watch.
"The Yankees made my mother cook fifteen bushels of peas and three middlins of meat. They didn't wait for them to get
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done. The peas just got hot and swelled. They taken them and left with all the good horses they could catch of ours and all the money they could find.
"If our Marster and Mistess saw a big healthy nigger it won't no trouble to get him married for they would urge it on, Yes Ma'am, I know you have heard about when people got married - a saying of jump the broom. I will tell you about that. It didn't make no difference, white or colored, if there was a wedding you could hear it all around. 'Are you going to the broom jumping tonight?' Everybody would go. You see, Miss, we had straw brooms back in those days. One was fixed about the size around my arm, and five feet long. It was laid down on the floor. Everybody would gather around. The man and woman that was going to mary would stand by the broom. The preacher would say to the man, 'do you take this woman to be your wife.' He says, 'Yes.' 'Well jump the broom,' After he jumped the preacher would say the same to the woman. When she jumped the preacher said, 'I pronounce you man and wife.' That's how all marriage ceremonies were then.
"My young Marster went to war to substitute for Mr. Franklin. Miss, it seems as if I can see him now. He called me, Ding?. He said, 'Here Ding, take this big red apple and if you don't ever see Marster again remember me by it. I never did see him no more. He got killed fighting. Mistess got forty dollars, but it was no good because we lost young Marster.
"They called old John in to pray for Marster, he was a big nigger. His prayer was, 'God bless young Marster in the
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war and give them their victory and bless old Marster and Mistess at home.'
"Going home, his wife Mary said, 'John, how in the devil do you ever expect to be set free and you praying like that?' Old John looked at Mary and said 'God knows what I mean.'"
Uncle Lonnie sat very quiet for a moment as if he were seeing everything over again. He took a long breath and smiled.
"Lord Miss, them was some days.
"How old were you Uncle Lonnie at the time of the surrender," I asked.
"Thats where I began another life, Miss. I was ten years old. My father sent me to several different schools. We stayed on at the old plantation though, my father and mother could stay together now and they worked and we had plenty. Lots of the old niggers were left without anything. My father would raise a bunch of hogs and put them in the cellar and sell them at a very high price. I can remember him selling wheat at sixty dollars a bushel. He made a pair of raw hide shoes one time and sold them for one hundred dollars to Mr. Ledbetter. This is something else I want to tell you. My father cut down maple trees and let them dry. Then he made little pegs and used them for nails to make his shoes. He was a very smart man.
"I kept going to school walking fourteen miles every day, but I liked it and I finally got my liscence and taught for several years.
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"I met a girl than and fell in love with her. Mr. Bob Yerby? married Julia Johnson and me. We lived at New Grove, Georgia. I decided that I wanted to give my work and soul to God. So I worked in the field by myself and picked three hundred pounds of cotton every day. I could chop three acres a day and made twelve bales of cotton and all the food I needed for my mule and cows. I taken this and went to see about my studies for a preacher.
"I studied Theologey under Dr. Lions and Dr. Clark. I can't remember when I joined the church, but it was over fifty years ago. I have lived in Clarke County all my life except ten years and have been a pastor for over twenty churches: Atlanta, Green, Oglethorpe, Madison, Oconee, Jackson, Banks, Gwinett Counties. I have baptised over three thousand people. God help me how many knots have I tied.
"I lived on at New Grove. Julia and me had fourteen children - all good healthy children. I stayed on 'till all the children died but five and when Julia died I left New Grove. The children was grown anyway. I come to Athens, but I was pastor at Romer?, Georgia. Willie, Sue, and Ophelis went to Richmond, Virginia. My oldest some died in Johnstown, Pennsylvania during the World War."
"Uncle Lonnie, how about your other son. Where is he?" I asked.
"He lives here with me. He is a preacher, too. His church is at Allensville. Even though he is my son, Miss, I don't want to brag, but he is a very intelligent boy. As I have said I
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am still pastor at Romer. I failed in health some and I asked them to get another preacher, but they never have. I still go and preach when I can. I preached yesterday and my text was the Eighth? Chapter - the Psalm of David.
"Yes Ma'am, Miss, I have been a great man. Then I walk in a church now men draw up in knots. God breathed 1 life in nostrils of man so we could do great things for Him.
"Yes Ma'am, Miss, I used to go to Mr. Walter Jones' home on Milledge Avenue one time a year and preach him a sermon as long as he lived. I am going there Christmas and preach a sermon for his son If I am living. All his kin folks from Baltimore are coming.
"I train all the bird dogs for them. You know they like to hunt and I do, too. Young Mr. Jones takes me now to the plantation for a week to hunt and train his dogs. He always pays my board to some of the tenants out there. I have a time with them dogs.
"Sometimes Mr. Jones's friend comes out on week-ends and hunts. This friend always brings his dogs with him. He had one great big dog. One of ours was small. These two dogs got to fighting one day and ours whipped. This man said, 'How is it your little dog can always whip my big dog?' I told him it wasn't always the size that whipped.
"Not long ago I was preaching in Green County. After the meeting was over the boys all wanted to go hunting. They insisted that I go with them. Well, I thought it would be good
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sport so I went. We hunted all around and finally spotted a 'possom on a limb way out over a river. Well, it was night and you know, Miss, how scary it looks out on a river bank at night. Everybody wanted to know who was going out after the possom. The big nigger said he would go, so he gave a big jump and caught the limb."
Uncle Lonnie was holding his hands up to show me how he did and laughing so he could hardly tell me.
"Well, he hung on there and saw he could not get down without falling in the water. He began to yell for some of us to come out and help him. We told him it was impossible for we could not go out there. 'Please come out and help me,' he cried. No we can't. 'Well,' he said, 'tell Nancy to meet me in heaven' - that's his wife. He began to pray, 'Oh Lord, please save me.' About that time the limb broke and he grabbed the one below. He kept on praying, 'Lord, have mercy.' The limb he was holding broke then, and into the water he went. It struck him just above the waist, he looked all around and said, 'Hell, it wasn't as deep as I thought it was.' It is all through life like that, Miss. I am old now, but the white folks are good to me though. God bless you.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 66 of 73
Reminiscences and Recollections
Hardee, Charles Seton Henry
Reminiscences and Recollections of Old Savannah
131 pages
Compiled 1928 by Martha Gallandet Waring.
no. np.
Publishers and printers not named.
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"I was sent to old Franklin College, Athens Georgia, in August 1844, when I was 14 years old. ? At Augusta I took the the Georgia Railroad to Union Point 90 miles away, from Union Point to Athens on a branch road of 40 miles, only very recently built. Five nights a week the passenger service on this road was by horsecar, and was an all night trip, and not a very comfortable one either...... There was a long bench running the whole length of the car on each side. On the sixth night the car was hitched to a freight train consisting of a baggage car and a freight car, and the whole attached to a small steam engine called "The Fire Fly." At one very steep ascent the train would be stopped and the engine would be fired up. When it was thought it has had steam enough to climb over the top of the grade, she sould be started off to make the climb. Often before reaching the top the engine stopped for lack of steam power and would roll back to the bottom of the incline to the starting point to be fired again. This procedure was sometimes repeated three or four times before the Fire Fly went over the top.
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"I recall a party given by Miss Callie Lumpkin, daughter of John Henry Lumpkin, who afterward became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia...... My borther brother Sydenham......had entered the University... Altho' he was only 16 yrs old and did not know a single note of music he was kind of musical genius. At this party he played a descriptive piece of his own composition called "The
Battle of Palo Alto.... Descriptive of the battle he would imitate the bugle calls, roll of drums, boom of cannon and the rattle of musketry. And when the battle was at its height there would be apparent confusion, but through it all you could occasionally hear the booming of the cannon, roar of the drums, bugle calls, and the rattle of musketry. As the battle ended, and the victory was won by the Americans, the piece ended with the ? playing of Yankee Doodle in the liveliest and most spirited manner.
"Another thing, I recall in regard to this party - a long table was set and a place assigned to each of us by name. At each place an ? iced? cake was placed and on each cake a motto of some sort, of? two lines of? rhyme. The one next to me was this: "Grace by name and Grace by nature, Oh Grace thou art a charming creature. " And mine was: "In books, nor love, nor courting tardy, A nice young man is Charlie Hardee. "
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 67 of 73
The Successful Farmer
August 8, 1939
Mr. James L. McElroy
Farmer
295 Olgethorpe Avenue
Athens, Georgia
By Sadie B. Hornsby
THE SUCCESSFUL FARMER
Mr. McMurray? was sitting at his desk in the front hall near the door engaged in thumbing over one paper after another. The papers were evidently of importance and pertaining to his business affairs, for some he lingered over longer than others. It was obvious that he was so absorbed in his task that he didn't hear my approach to the front porch, for when I knocked on the door it startled the old man, and he jumped as if something unexpected had happened.
"Mr. McMurray is tall and portly, with white hair, faded blue eyes, and a face which is criss-crossed with wrinkles and deeply tanned and roughened by the sun, wind, and rain of eighty-two years. His gray, shaggy eyebrows hang over his silver-rimmed glasses.
It was an effort for him to get up from the chair as he is badly crippled in his right leg from the waist down. He hobbled to the door saying, "Good morning," and before I had a chance to state my mission he added, "Now if it's something you want to sell, young woman, I'm not interested, and don't have the money to invest in anything. I don't read much now, for I can't see good like I used to."
After I had explained the object of my visit, he invited me in. "Come in, won't you, or had you rather sit on the porch? But if it's all the same to you we'll sit here in the hall, 'cause the sun hurts my eyes. You'll have to excuse the house; the woman folks are cleaning house and have everything
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torn up."
There was a loud noise in the back of the house, and asking to be excused a minute, he called out, "Sue, are you moving the Frigidaire? You go careful. If you jar some of the electrical parts loose it will cost me several dollars to have it fixed." The noise stopped and a Negro boy and an older Negro went into a room down the hall and came out carrying an old-fashioned dresser.
Mr. McMurray said to the woman who made her appearance about that time, "What in tarnation are you going to do with that dresser?"
"Taking it up the stairs," she replied.
"What for?" he wanted to know.
"Because there is no sense having two dressers in one room, and there is nothing else up there." Nothing more was said and he resumed his conversation.
"Now, just to tell you the truth, I don't know anything about legends connected with Athens or any place near by. All I ever heard connected with Athens was when the Yankees came through. A man, who was in the crowd at that time, told me when the Yankees came through here a band of them began to steal everything they could get their hands on, as well as molested the women and children. Our boys caught the ringleader of the gang, hung him up by his thumbs in a clump of woods on the other side of town, and the others got away."
I heard the one he called Sue call, "Sister Ruth, have you put your vacuum cleaner up?"
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"No".
"Well, let me use it for a while."
"All right, go in my room and get it."
The noise from the cleaner began in the room the dresser was removed from. Mr. McMurray called in a sharp voice, "Sue, cut that blame thing off. I can't hear a word this lady had to say".
There was no response, and the noise continued. He got up from his chair, hobbled into the room, and closed the door. The noise within ceased. He seemed embarassed over the condition of the torn-up house, as there was a conglomeration of furniture throughout the full length of the hall - many old-fashioned chairs, sofas, tables, and what not. Through an open door in what appeared to be the dining room, I saw an old square dining table with a lovely crocheted cloth on it.
My host returned and sat down in a large rocker, after he had stopped the noise and confusion. "Now, where do you want me to begin? Would you like to know about my father first? Well, he was a famous Baptist preacher. He served as pastor for a number of churches for years. Some of them he preached at as long as twenty-five years hand running.
"I was born at Watkinsville, in Clarke County then but Ocenee? County now, on June 21, the longest day in the year, 1857. My father left Watkinsville when I was quite a child. He moved out here about a quarter of a mile on Mitchell's Bridge Road. My father owned a large gin and grist mill. He ginned cotton and ground corn into meal for everybody around Athens. I know one thing I did as a boy. I have hauled hundreds of bushels of corn in
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winter right by this very house in those days when the road was a foot deep in mud. The corn was ground between two huge stones pulled around and round by mules or horses. Now all that is done by electricity and the meal is ground by wheels pulled by belts connected to the grinder.
"When I was a boy I had to walk four miles to school every day, four there and four back, making eight miles a day. Now children can't walk up here several blocks to college. I went to school here in Athens to a private school for boys, taught by Mr. Scudder. The school in recent years has been converted into a dwelling house. It is standing on the original spot, next to the First Presbyterian Church. After I finished there, which took me three years, I went to another private school taught by Sylvamis Morris and Judge Lumpkin. I went there three years. Among other subjects I took was bookkeeping. I have never used it only in my own business. That old school stood where the Fowler house is now, and recently bought by a fraternity. The school I went to was a residence converted into a schoolhouse and was known at that time as the Old Charbonnie House. Schools won't as good in those days as they are now, and that was the last place I went to school. I didn't go to college. It took a heap of money to go to college back in my young days.
"Yes, mam, I have been here a long time. Why, I remember when there won't nothing but houses on Clayton Street with the exception of where Sun's Drug Store is now was a blacksmith shop. And I have seen mud half a leg deep on Broad Street after a heavy rain, and I remember when the first paving was laid, but of course I don't remember the year as my mind is too short now to recall the exact year.
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"I helped my father on the farm and at the cotton gin until I was twenty-one years of age, doing everything that came to hand, working on the farm in season and at the cotton gin and grist mill in the fall and winter. When I became a free man I married and went to farming for myself. I still farm, but it is run by tenant labor. I've been very successful handling labor. One Negro family has been on my farm twenty-five years and another has been with me twenty-three. I have a twenty-five horse farm; therefore, I have several other families living on it. The cotton gins are quite different now from what they were when I was a boy. The old ones were fed by hand.
"After my father died I moved to town. A man had bought and built this house. He also owned two lots next to this one. Times got tight with him and he came near losing his property and this house he lived in at the time. I bought this property from him, which caused him to get on his feet and start all over again. That was twenty-seven years ago.
"When I moved to town I built a modern gin, grist mill, and shingle mill, also a feed mill. I have ginned as high as three thousand bales of cotton in one season, but the Government has cut the cotton acreage down so my boys didn't gin but a little better than six hundred bales last year. The report on cotton is it seems much larger than last year.
"I have been nearly killed several times fooling around the cotton gin. When I was running a water pipe to the gin, I had to connect it with the water main over here at the Co-ordinate College. Of course I had secured permission from the proper authorities. You have to be careful that the pipes are free of dirt, so I picked up a long pipe to knock the dirt out before
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the men working on the main laid it. In doing so I struck ? pipe and it knocked me flat on the ground senseless. If I had not been standing on grass and it was dry I wouldn't have known what death I died with.
"One day while working around the gin, the cuff of my shirt caught on a line shaft and ?? around for some time before the machinery could be stopped and I was pulled out. Every stitch of clothing was torn from my right side but the cuff of my shirt. My hip was badly mangled and it was thought for a long time I would never walk again without the aid of crutches. I was about fifty-five years old when that happened.
"I told you that I ran a shingle mill in connection with my cotton gin. Do you see my hand, with the two fingers gone? Well, let me tell you how it happened. I had an emery? wheel attached to the machinery on my shingle mill. I had just finished whetting a saw. I noticed the shingles were banking up, and very carefully I reached my hand down between the saws to scatter the shingles. When I pulled my hand out it was in some way knocked up against the saw. It sawed two fingers off in less than a second, and they flew out and hit the wall about ten feet from me.
"W-e-l-l, it's like this, what I made on my gin, grist, and shingle mill, has enabled my to buy what property I cared to own. I fed, clothed, educated, and gave my children a few opportunities those times could afford. I have started each of my ten children out in business. I think that is evident of what the success the gins and farm has been.
"I was the father of thirteen children, buy only eleven of them lived to
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be grown and married. One of my daughters died soon after her first child was born, and the child died a few weeks later, but her husband is dead now. All of my children have a high school education, and four or five of them finished college. The rest of them wouldn't go. My wife and I were married sixty-one years before her death. She died this past December, and my oldest child will be sixty years old his next birthday.
"My widowed daughter and her little boy are living with me now, sorter keeping things together for me. But I am going to get married again just as soon as I can find some nice lady that will have me. You don't know a nice woman about fifty or sixty who would like a nice home and a good husband? If you do, tell them about me. If I married again my children would have a fit, but I don't see why, because as fast as their wives or husbands died they were ready to get them somebody else.
"Due to my father being a Baptist preacher, nautrally all of us belong to the Baptist church, and so to speak I was born in the church. Rain or shine, snow or blow, that is one thing my father demanded of us. My mother made preparations on Saturday, and bright and early Sunday morning if it was a country church my father served and it was a good distance from home we set forth to be there on time."
The telephone rang, and the young woman he called Sue answered. Then she called to Mr. McMurray, "Papa, hurry and come on. Maybelle is waiting on us."
He said to me, "Everything is so turn up here today, one of my daughters has invited us to have dinner with her. I am sorry to have to go, but you
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know when a woman gets a meal ready it makes them mad to keep 'em waiting. Suppose you go by the gin on the way to town and look the gin over. But, before you go, I want to show you something I picked up in the field on my farm. Here it is. I used it for a paper weight all these years. Some people tell me it looks like a pine cone petrified. It does resemble one, but the sections that form the burr are diamond shaped and clear as crystal. Some of my folks took ink and traced around each of the sections that form the burr. I meant to take it down town and have it cleaned, but I have never gotten around to it. Here is a rock I found. It looks like it was shaped by an expert. I have found many arrow-heads, pots, and things in days gone by left by the Indians. I have often been sorry my wife let the children break them. It has always puzzled me what the Indians used these two rocks for. The round one is an inch thick and of solid black rock, and the other one is oblong and exactly a half inch through, and of perfectly white rock."
The girls called him again, and he hobbled to the door with me, saying, "Be sure and go by the gin and ask the boys to show you how it is operated."
When I reached the McMurray Brothers Gin the next morning there was a middle-aged man sitting on a split-bottom chair leaning against the building, holding the reins of the mules standing in front of the mill, while their master was unloading corn to be ground into meal. I asked the man if he was Mr. McMurray.
"No, mam, I am just their first cousin, but I hang around here when I don't have nothing else to do. You will find them inside. Just go on in." The man who was standing at the grinder, grinding meal when I entered
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the building didn't see me at first. Finally he looked up and came toward me. "Good morning. What can I do for you?"
"I explained my visit to him. He nodded his head, pointed his thumb over his shoulder, and said in a gruff voice, "Go in the gin house. You will find my brother in there mending a belt. He will tell you what you want to know. I haven't got time myself. I have fifty bushels of corn to grind into meal right away."
As I started to thank him, he said, "Not at all," and, scratching his head vigorously, he returned to his task.
I followed his directions and found his brother mending the belt. After I had explained what I wanted, he said, "I never was a hand to explain things so a person could understand what I'm talking about, but I'll be glad to show you around and tell you what I know about it.
"My father turned this over to us? five boys about twenty years ago. If you like this kind of work it is very interesting. There used to be money in this sort of work when we took/ it over. All of us have families and from the proceeds of this we have done the best we could by them. Educated our children and have given them a few advantages of life.
"I've seen the time when we ginned cotton day and night, of course in season. And have ginned as high as thirty-three hundred bales of cotton in one season. Times were good then, but since that time there has come an awful change. Each year we have ginned less and less cotton. Last year was our shortest year and we only ginned six hundred and thirty bales. As a rule,
Page 10
a man can pay for his ginning out of his seed from the cotton. It cost around $2.50 to gin a bale, but this year, as I see it now, the seed from a bale won't pay for it; as cotton seed is selling for 75¢ a hundred pounds.
"Do you see that pipe that begins over there by the door? The cotton is hauled here and the people drive on those scales in front of the door. After the cotton is weighted, that suction pipe is placed in the wagon of cotton and draws the cotton into the gin. This wheel here is governed by air control and when that large pipe is full it trips the wheel. The air is cut off until the pipe is cleared and it cuts on again." He opened the drums, explaining, "This is where the seed is taken from the cotton. The brushes back of the saw cut and card the cotton as it is cut from the seed by the saws in front of the brush. These seed go through the trough until they reach the trap door here. Do you see this roller? Well, it turns the seed into the pipe below and they are carried through that pipe until they reach the seed house at the corner of the lot cut there.
"While that is going on, the cotton drops in this hopper. When it is full, do you see this round circle in the floor? We spring the trap and this round section revolves to where the bale is shaped. Where the bagging and ties are placed, as this hopper fills with cotton to be pressed into bales, it gradually rises until the bottom of the bale reaches the level of the floor. Then the ties are buckled over the bagging that holds the cotton.
"These stalls are used for storing seed. Do you see those trap doors at the back of the stalls near the floor? They open into a suction pipe. Often we store the seed for a man, and he will decide to sell us the seed. After
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the purchase is made, we open those doors and the seed are carried to the seed house through a pipe. Lots of times a man will haul cotton here in the rain and the cotton is stored in those stalls until it is dry enough to gin. We don't make no extra charge for those things, for a fellow in business has to do lots of accommodating to hold their customers.
"During ginning season we work night and day. It keeps all of us on the jump, and we hire quite a lot of help. Some we pay $2 a day and others $3. Of course we do pay a few as low as 75¢. $3 a day includes day and night work. I couldn't say how much we make, as what we make is divided among us boys, and we at least make enough to keep our families from starving. However, fifteen or say eighteen years ago we made a good living out of ginning and gave our children a few advantages and a college education. So far our children don't have to help us, but we are getting old now, and if the ginning business keeps dropping off there is no telling what they will have to do.
"Since this country has cut down on cotton acreage, other countries are doubling theirs. Take Australia, which at one time was considered a small cotton country. It doubled its acreage in the last two years. Instead of this country exporting our cotton and cotton goods to other countries raising cotton, they are importing it to us each year by the million bales of both cotton and cloth. But I'm sure the reduction of acreage in this country is all right in its way, and these in charge surely know better than we what it is all about.
"Now come this way, and I'll show you the grist mill. All this machinery
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in here controls it. This is the corn sifter. After the corn is shelled it is put in the sifter. This ? sifter has a fan under it that blows the cornsilk from the corn, and the sifter catches the large pieces of cobs. The corn is then taken through the overhead pipe controlled by those belts you see, and is spilled into a smaller sifter where every particle of dust, dirt, and small bits of cobs are either blown out or left in the sifter. It then goes to the grinder and comes out nice clean meal. You won't find any worms, weevils, and trash in our meal. Some people just grind all that up in the meal, but we try to be careful about ours. We used to grind lots of meal, but now we grind just whatever amount of corn is brought to us.
"Look out of the window, and you'll see our mill for chopping oats up into food? stuff ? stock. It is over to the left. That small contraption to the right is where we saw shingles. We take the lumber and saw it into the desired length, them feed it to the machine, and as you know one end of the shingle is much thicker than the other. Since composition and tin roofs are used now, we have very few calls for our shingles.
"The sacks? you see back of you here in the building are full of meal and corn. You are right, this machinery is dangerous, and you have to be on your guard at all times. But so far, none of us have been hurt in the past twenty years, but we did have a Negro to get his hand cut off in the cotton gin, and another his arm."
While we were talking, a woman dressed in a pink crepe? dress and a boy in overalls drove up in front, with two miles hitched to a wagon. The woman and boy were sitting on a board laid across the front of the wagon. There
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were several sacks of corn, chickens, eggs, and watermelons in the back. The woman had her straight hair tucked back of her ears. She spit a mouthful of snuff on the ground, addressing Mr. ?. "Do you have time to grind this corn by twelve o'clock?"
"Yes, I think so."
"All right," said the woman. "Git out of this here wagon, boy, and yank them there sacks of corn out. You know I've got to git to town and sell my chicken and watermelons before folks beat me selling theirs."
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 68 of 73
The Sunshine Lady
THE SUNSHINE LADY
Written by: Mrs. Ada Radford
Augusta
Edited by: Mrs. Leila H. Harris
Supervising Editor
Georgia Writers'
Project
Area 7
December 29, 1939
Mrs. Neille Wesenger
Richmond County Home
December 4, 1939
A. R.
Some years ago our Sunday School class discovered the "Sunshine Lady" of the Richmond County Home. One Sunday afternoon the little prayer band? went out to the institution to hold services with the shut-ins. When we arrived, we told the superintendent that we had heard of her and asked if she was still there.
"Yes, she is here." He replied. "But I know that you girls belong to a Protestant church. She is a Catholic and the Priest comes out to see her once a week."
This dampened our spirits to some extent, but we decided to visit her even if? she did not want to take part in the services. The superintendent directed us to a two-story clapboard structure with iron-barred windows, that resembled a prison. Later we learned that the partly insane and the feeble-minded patients were housed there.
A very old lady with her head bound in a cloth answered our knock at the door.
"May we see Miss Mary," I asked with many misgivings.
"Yes, she's in the back room." she replied with a blank look.
We walked through the dimly lighted hall about seven feet wide where several inmates were sitting around a large heater. When they saw us coming they scuttled away into the adjoining rooms like rats seeking shelter.
When we reached Miss Mary's room she was reclining in her rolling chair close by the window. Disease had cruelly deformed
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her hands. In one of them she held the Sunday paper. The other grasped a 16-inch forked reed, with which she turned the pages. Sensing our presence she looked up with the friendliest blue eyes I have ever seen,. Her cordial greeting dispelled all of our fears and as? we informed her of our mission she said softly:
"I'm so glad you came. Indeed! I do want you to hold services. Jennie!" she called, as a rather stout black-haired woman came in to replenish the fire, "Call the others into my room. These young ladies have come to sing and pray with us."
Upon hearing her voice, several of the inmates ventured out and joined us. When the services were over, to all felt that it had been good to be there. As we bade? her goodbye she said sincerely:
"Come back soon. I am a member of the Catholic Church but? I am deeply interested in all denominations."
During the years since that day we have kept in close touch with Miss Mary. As we have come to know her better, her undying faith in her friends and her God have been a constant inspiration.
Today when I called to ask for her life history the same cheery smile greeted me.
"Oh! I'm so glad to see you. Come right in and give an account of yourself. I haven't seen you since Easter."
"I have thought of you a great deal, Miss Mary." I explained. "Although many things have kept me away."
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"I understand, and now that you are here tell me about yourself. Jennie, cut off the radio, we want to talk."
"Me, Miss Mary," I said quickly, "I want you to talk and tell me the story of your life. I know it will be interesting."
"How could I tell anything that would be of interest to anyone. I have spent the past 37 years in a rolling chair. However?, I will be glad to tell you what? I can."
She chuckled and went on: "I am like the woman who moved off the big road who said, 'I don't know nothin'!'
"The old couple moved back in the woods off the big road and on Sunday they went to a church close by. The sermon was on the Crucifixion of Christ. The old woman said:
"'thar now they done killed Christ and we didn't know nothin' about it.'
"A few weeks later they attended church again and the sermon this time was an the Resurrection. The old woman said to her husband:
"'that settles it John, we are movin' back up on the big road where we will know sumpin', for now Christ has been back and we never got to see him! I tells you I'm movin' back, I'm not stayin' here.'"
Glancing up at the clock Miss Mary said hurriedly:
"Excuse me please and tell Jennie it is time to make coffee. I keep a pot and some coffee in my room and have Jennie make it on the heater for Mrs. Lyons and the others, who would not eat their lunch if they didn't have a cup of hot coffee. They only serve coffee night and morning from the kitchen.
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"I don't believe I told you about Jennie. She was in Milledgeville? at the State Sanitarium but because they were so crowded they sent her here. She is perfectly harmless unless some one crosses her. I have taken here under my care and she helps me in a great many ways. I try to keep her busy and in this way keep her out of trouble. If she does get mad with anybody, the superintendent has to lock her up for several days."
"She must be quite a problem," I commented.
"Oh, no! she said quickly, "I am kind to her and divide what I have with her. She as sufficient mentality to realize that I am her friend and I get along well with her. My friends marvel that I am not afraid of her, for she has stood over me many times with a stick and threatened me, but I'm not afraid. Usually, she soon realizes what she is doing and begs me not to tell the superintendent."
At this point the Negro convict woman began bringing in the trays with the noon meal for the inmates, who were not physically able to go to the kitchen or were insane and not permitted there. The convict woman brought the cups to Miss Mary's room and filled them with the steaming coffee. Her tray was placed on the table and after everybody had been served, one of? the women placed it on her ? breast for she can barely raise her head and her body is only elevated slightly. She managed to feed herself in an amazingly deft manner for on in such an apparently helpless condition. The tray was arranged attractively and was adorned with an embroidery scalloped cloth, which was her own handiwork. When she had finished she called softly:
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"Emma? take the tray now. Be sure to put the bread in the box on the dresser and the scraps in my cat box." Looking up at me she explained: "I always keep enough to feed Tom, my cat. One day last week I was looking out of the window and saw a cat, that had apparently been struck by a car and was badly crippled. I had it brought in to me and fed it until it was well."
"What are you saving the bread for?" I asked curiously.
"Oh! the bread, that is for my birds. Every morning they gather in the yard under my window and chirp to let me know they are there. Then I call Jennie to feed them. They are really my friends, for when I plant my flowers garden they catch the worms that would destroy the flowers before they could bloom."
"Do you mean you have a flower garden?" I asked in amazement.
"Oh yes!" she replied with a smile. "The superintendent is very kind. He always has a man to prepare the ground in the spring, my friends furnish the plants and seeds, and I direct from my window. There is always someone kind enough to water the flowers for me and I enjoy watching them grow and bloom, so much. Last spring my sweet peas were very pretty. Had you come to see me you could have had all you could pick. Fore three Sundays I sent enough for the altar at my church, and one day I furnished 37 dozen to decorate the parsonage for a wedding. I had a few roses, but I'm not so successful with them, because I don't have anybody to spray them for me. My chrysanthemums were also very beautiful.
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"Our superintendent's son died a short time ago." Miss Mary continued. "He was sick for a long time and I sent him a bouquet every other day during his entire illness. I used the last of the chrysanthemums for the funeral of Mr. Bishop, one of the inmates, who was killed by and automobile last week. He was deaf and partially blind.
"Jennie, hand me my work. I want to finish? the applique on this scarf for Miss Grace. She wants it for a Christmas present.
"You won't mind?"; she questioned. "You see my eyes give me trouble and I can't work fast. I'll work and talk at the same time."
When she had gotten comfortable she asked: "Now, where do we begin?"
"Start as far back as you can/ /and tell everything." I answered.
"My father, John Thomas Lindsey," she began. "was a native of England. He was born near Liverpool and came to America when he was 15 years old. His older brother, Michael, was the first of the family to come over and as soon as he had accumulated enough money he returned to England and brought my grandmother, my Aunt Harriet, and my father with him.
"He, my father, completed his education after he came to the United States and was a professor in the Leesville College (South Carolina) when he died. My mother, Frances Shirley was born in Leesville but her parents were native Germans. I was only 20 months old when my father died and my mother moved to Columbia
Page 7
to live with my uncle Michael.
"Two years later my mother married again and my uncle asked to be allowed to keep me with him. She consented readily and that was the only home I have ever known.
"Oh yes, I saw my mother once a week but she was very busy with her new family. There were twelve in all. I still have four half brothers and two half sisters living in South Carolina. I also have one sister living in Augusta. She came out to see me one day last week.
"My troubles began early in life." Miss Mary continued. "For when I was only ten years old I was stricken with anchylosis, and for six months I was unable to walk or otherwise help myself. The whole family was so eager and willing to do for me that my recovery was somewhat retarded. It required effort on my part to get well, but I did improve slowly.
"I was in the fifth grade at St. Peter's School in Columbia when I took sick and the following September I returned to school and again took up my 5th grade work and was promoted to the 6th grade at Christmas.
"My health remained good and I was graduated from High School at the age of 16.
"All during that time the disease remained dormant and only occasionally after running or walking fast would I feel the slightest discomfort. I never had a pain after I was 17 or 18 years old and I thought I was entirely cured."
Page 8
Miss Mary continued thoughtfully: "There was no reason now why I shouldn't be happy and when my husband asked me to marry him I consented gladly. When I found I was to become a mother I was overjoyed. My baby girl came on January 6, 1893 but she only lived 8? weeks. The next year my boy was born and lived 4 hours, and in 1898 I gave birth to a still-born child.
"My old trouble began to worry me again after my first child was born and for three years I used crutches. My husband sent me? to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I went away? walking with crutches and was brought back on a stretcher. The doctors pronounced my case hopeless. I next went to a specialist in Philadelphia who? gave me electrical treatments. This only made me sore and more painful so we bought a rolling chair and in it I have spent my days since that time.
"Yes, I go to bed? at night. Two of these girls turn my chair around by the side of the bed and roll me on it. My husband spent a lot of money trying to cure me, in fact all that he had. I now began to be resigned to my fate and to try to plan some way to help him as we had four children to raise and educate."
I inquired with great surprise: "Children?"
"Yes, she answered smilingly. "You see, I married a widower with four children. The oldest was three years and 2 months and the youngest were twins of 14 months. The children's grandmother lived with us and took care of them.
"About this time I had completed my plans to increase our income.
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I rented a house with twenty-nine rooms, and every bit of it that was not required for the family, I furnished for boarders. With the help of the foreman of the railroad shops, who recommended my place to his men, I soon had about twenty regular boarders and about thirty-five or forty who took their meals with me. This friend also collected the money from the men and I never lost a penny.
"I knew you would ask how I managed," she said with amusement. "Well, I had two good cooks and housemaids. I planned the meals for each day, giving the order to a clerk who came to the house each morning. I did all of the buying and paid all of the bills.


"My stepchildren were very little trouble. William, the oldest boy, graduated from Clemson? College. Charles, on of the twins, was in his last yea at Clemson when he was killed while working with a bridge gang during his vacation. The two girls married while they were still in High School.
"I operated the boarding house for 15 years but, when the children's grandmother died I had to close it. The children were all married and my husband and I decided to live for a while just for ourselves. We rented a small cottage next door to the big place and were so happy. My husband had been working for the Shad Building Company for twenty-eight years, eleven or which he had served as foreman of the shop. I kept two servants and although I was confined to my chair and was
Page 10
scarcely ever free from pain, I was contented and happy."
Miss Mary seemed to be enjoying greatly these reminiscences of happier days. She went on thoughtfully: "Wanting something to occupy my mind during the daytime, I joined the Conevelent? Society of our Church, and began to plan ways in which I could help. At that time I could sit up in my chair and had fairly good use of my hands. I bought an electric motor for my machine and took in plain sewing. I made quite a bit of money and was truly happy for them I was able to help those less fortunate than I, especially little children. I was amply rewarded when I could bring a smile to a little face. At Christmas and at Thanksgiving I always arranged a dozen or more baskets for the poor."
"And you did all this yourself Miss Mary?" I asked in amazement.
"Yes, I cut and did the sewing and directed all of the work. Of course, I had to have someone always at hand for I couldn't walk even with a crutch, as my legs were stiff. I know that God was using me for his work, because I had prayed so hard that if it could be in accordance with his will, to restore my health. I also prayed, however, that if I could serve him better in my chair, to let me stay in my chair, so I know that it is His will.
"And then my greatest trouble came. In 1909 my husband was stricken with intestinal trouble and after/ a two weeks illness he passed away. I was indeed alone then for all of the family had moved away. My sister, who lived in Augusta, had been urging me for some time to come to her and let Dr. Michel treat me.
Page 11
So to please her I sold out and came to live with her. The doctor broke all of my joints and put them in plaster of paris. When he finally removed the casts my arms and legs were straight. I told him that it would never do, that he must rebreak and fix them back like they were. For I must have even the little use I had of them restored if there was any possible way.
"The doctor was astounded and couldn't understand why I wanted to undergo the agony of having my joints broken again. But, you see, I have been able to work with my hands and still be of service. I have earned on an average of $110 a year with my embroidery hoop and needle. I furnish my room, my bed linen, clothes, and pay for my laundry.
"During the war I saved $125." And now there was real pride in her voice.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. "So you have a bank account."
"Not now," she answered. "I spent it long ago."
"Well," I said with assurance, "I'm certain of one thing, you didn't spend it on yourself."
"No," she replied smilingly, "But it went for a good cause. However, I do have enough to bury me. My grandmother deposited $150 in the bank for my burial expenses more than thirty years ago. She knew I couldn't get any insurance and the interest has helped a little too.
"I came to the home twenty-eight years ago last July. My sister was good to me but I couldn't see plainly that taking care
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of me was killing her. We were not able to hire a servant and she insisted upon lifting me from the bed to the chair. I took matters? in my own hands and had friends make the necessary arrangements for me to be brought here. Sister was very much hurt when I told her about it, but I knew that she has come to realize that it was for the best. She lost her home during the depression and her husband hasn't had regular work for years."
"Have you been happy here, Miss Mary?" I asked.
"Well," she answered slowly. "I can't say I haven't been happy. For a long time they would roll me out on the porch when the weather was pretty and I enjoyed the sunshine as much. I also liked to talk to the inmates. But for the past 7 years I have stayed in my room and sat by the window looking out on my garden, and to the Heavens form whence cometh my help. Some day all the knots and bumps in my body will be straight and I will walk again in the Glory of God."
"You must have indeed been lonely during all these years." I told her. "A person of your intelligence to spend every day surrounded by insane and feeble-minded people. Have you been here all the time?"
"Yes, I have been right in this room for 28 years. Perhaps I would have been lonely had I spent my time just being sorry for myself. You see I have had a wonderful opportunity for serving others."
"I know you have done much to brighten other lives." I said.
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"Would you mind telling me some of the things you've done?"
"I don't like to talk about what I've done for others." She said slowly. "Do you really want to know?"
"Yes." I replied. "Please tell me."
"Well, to begin with, all of the inmates in this building are old, and they are sick for a good part of the time. When one of them is seriously ill I stay awake at night and see that his medicine is given on time, measuring the dose myself to be sure its right. When one dies I have an electric switch on my bed and I ring for the matron. However, while this small service has been its own reward there have been three outstanding days that were the happiest of my entire life:
"One day while I was out on the porch, news was brought to me that one of the men had died suddenly. I was talking to another of the inmates at the time and he said quickly: 'A good thing too?, for he was too mean to live. He just curses? all the time and is awful to live around.'
"'don't say that.'" I told him. "'I'm so sorry to know that he died without a moment to repent. If he had been a good man it wouldn't worry me.' The small seed thus sewn fell on fertile ground, for the next day Mr. Franklin came back and seemed to be worried. After a while he began to talk. 'Why are you upset and worried over the death of an unsaved man, especially one of that class? And I also want to know what church you belong to.'
"I told him I was a Catholic and he exclaimed: 'A Catholic interested in other people! I never heard of such a thing!
Page 14
He then went away quickly without another word.
"Several days passed before I saw him again. After talking for a few minutes he asked me if I would send the priest to see him, which I did. In a very short time Mr. Franklin's health began to fail rapidly. One day he came to see me and asked me to write a letter for him and also to make out a check for him to sign, which would take care of his burial expenses. When I had done these things for him, I asked him about his soul: 'Have you made your peace with God?'
"'Yes, Miss Mary," he answered softly." Three months ago I joined the church and I'm all right. And I want to tell you that it wasn't any preaching that did it. All of it was due to the life you live and the example you set.'
"Another of my happiest days was the time when a lewd woman was sent out here from the stockade. She saw the priest come out one morning and give me communion. She came over a little later and told me that she would like to have a pricher notice her. Later, she confessed her sins, repented, and was ready to go when she died a short time afterward.
"Another time there was a terribly wicked old couple here. One day the wife had an awful fight with her husband, because he had given a chew of tobacco to another woman. The superintendent heard about the fight and told her that it must never happen again. She accused me of tattling on her and gave me a good cursing out, using terrible language.
"For five long years I pleaded with that woman, begging her to
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change her ways and asking her to pray. When I would mention prayer she would rave and say all sorts of dreadful things. One day she said: 'My brains will be clabber when I believe in all that rot?.' But would you believe it, before she died she accepted Christ and prayed daily. This was the last of the three happiest experiences of my life here in the home."
Disease has taken heavy toll through the years and today every joint in Miss Mary's body is stiff. Her arms are bent at the elbows and she has not been able to straighten them for? years. Her fingers are drawn and are gradually dwindling. She can only move one of her hands at the wrist and it is impossible to bring them nearer than 6 inches apart. She is also unable to touch her face. Despite these handicaps she continues to work. By using a 7-inch embroidery hoop she makes pillowcases, tablecloths, and scarfs? in drawn work, embroidery and applique. She has also make several silk and velvet quilts.
"There is just one more question I would like to ask, Miss Mary." I said. "Why are you always cheerful and never complain in spite of the pain you must bear?"
"That, my friend, is for a selfish reason. If I was a complaining?, faultfinding person with a tale of woe to tell everyone, I would soon lose all of my friends and nobody would want to come about me. I would then be a very lonely person, for I love people and not to have them come about me would be like closing the door to Paradise."
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 69 of 73
Unable to Stage a Comeback
F. Hodge
610 Parsons Street, S.W. A WPA worker - Librarian, Government Housing Project
by
Geneva Tonsill October 27, 1939
UNABLE TO STAGE A COMEBACK
"My early education was done at Atlanta University when they used to have a kindergarten there, and I stayed in that school until I reached the fifth grade. This was at the time that Atlanta University was an undergraduate school. The grades were not offered and I finished the rest of my elementary education at the Mitchell Street /Public? /School?. The old building that housed the school still stands , ? but has been renovated and turned into apartments. I went back to Atlanta University after completing the eighth grade work and spent six years there. I had a four-year normal course and two years of college work. I didn't complete my college work on account of my mother not being able to finance me. I hate it that I was unable to continue in school because I had looked forward to a college education.
"During my summer months I taught? school in the county every year from the time I was first year until my graduation. I had to do this in order to be able to go back to school during the regular term. The first year I taught in the county I was only thirteen years old. Yes, this was at a very young age but I had always had every advantage of good schools and my parents helped in every way possible. My mother tutored me and, therefore, I was far advanced for my age. On the other hand, not many years ago the /Superintendents? in the counties accepted teachers who were still in the grades and unlike today, strictness as to classification was not so pronounced. Then too the teaching profession was not so crowded as it is now, so teachers were in great demand.
"I took the examination for this school in the county and was successful in passing the test. I ventured out and taught, quite successfully. I attribute some of my success to the fact that I
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lived with my cousin, also a teacher, who helped me with the problems that came up in school.
"I spoke of my advantages and my parents' hope for me in the educational field, and I am reminded of my grandfather who was so interested in education, not only for his family but the race as a whole, that he was one of the pioneers of Atlanta University. Soon after the War between the States and after the war clouds had cleared away there were a number of northern whites who gave up home conforts and lucrative positions to come South to devote their lives to the education of the Negro. This was a great humanitarian gesture and took much courage on the part of those brave men and women, for they did have a hard road ahead of them. This was entirely now, figuratively speaking, for the South, because heretofore Negroes were looked on as property. Their health and fitness to work were greatly considered because the strong robust ones were counted quite valuable to their owners. They had never given a thought to education for a Negro. In fact, they had prohibited the education of Negroes, who, until after Emancipation, were merely looked upon as machines Well, when Atlanta University was first begun my grandfather was one who assisted in getting food and other necessities for the teachers. As a child, my mother used to tell me and my sisters, how grandfather had worked hard to support his family and gave generously to the teachers at Atlanta University who were paving a way for the education of the Negro. She said he would purchase his groceries on Saturday for his immediate family and then carry all he could to Atlanta University for the teacher. He sent his children there. He had four children, two sons and two daughters. Three of his children graduated from Atlanta University, one of whom happened to be my mother.
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"My mother as a great church worker and she was a teacher in the city schools of Atlanta. She also taught in one of the colleges in Atlanta. She worked as a city patron? for the City of Atlanta? until her health failed. All of mother's girls, four, finished from Atlanta University. She also had a son. My father was very industrious, as well as ambitious for his family. He felt that he could make better wages if he left Atlanta? and so he and mother agreed on this and he left. He was successful and secured a nice job, sent money to support the family? and saved a nice amount. When he felt that/ he had been away long enough he took a vacation and came home. On his way back home he was sandbagged, robbed,and died before he was able to return home. After his death mother had the responsibility of supporting five children. She did it beautifully. She lived to see her four girls graduated from Atlanta University. The son saw fit to stop school before he graduated, as he felt he wanted to go out and support himself and relieve mother of this responsibility. Mother, who had so much hope for her children, didn't want him to do this but , seeing him so set on it and he had gone far toward his education, she felt he could succeed and granted him permission to stop school. Mother had to sacrifice and struggle to rear us but she had faith in God and confidence in herself? and so she was successful.
"She and my father purchased property and she held on to this after father's death. The property was about paid for and we were practically out of debt when the fire of 1917 occurred. This fire destroyed everything we had, just swept away everything , and we were never able to come back from this disaster.
"The fire started in a small dwelling near fort and Decatur Streets, just a little shack. There didn't seem to be a much
Page 4
significance attached to the fire at first. I was teaching at this? time at the Parochial School. I continued, my classes, although some? of the parents had become alarmed and came for their children, I permitted those to go whose parents came but not without trying to discourage them from taking their children out because I felt the fire would soon be over. The fire kept coming as though by leaps a and bounds. It was the greatest fire in the history of Atlanta. The fire continued to sweep the colored section and still the whites didn't seemed so concerned about it. On and on the fire swept with destruction in its wake and finally it reached the white section - Druid Hills. Then the City of Atlanta busied itself to stop the fire. Well, the fire had such a headway that it was necessary for houses directly in the path of the fire to be dynamited and houses was blown up. Of course, the entire fourth ward mostly inhabited by Negroes, was entirely burned before anything was done. It was said that two white men had started the fire and went from house to house putting something on the house and then that house caught. It was during the time we were in the midst of the World War an whether this was ? or not I could not say with any authority but I do know two white men were in my house when I got home from my school. They asked if there was anything they could do to assist and soon afterwards my house was on fire. The houses that they didn't go in were not burned.
"Friends of mine came and moved everything I had on the sidewalk. Most of my furniture was destroyed by fire even after being removed from the house and the rest was lost. There were men going around? in trucks, picking up furniture off the street and the stuff that was taken up by those men was never recovered. I had a piano and typewriter that disappeared and I have felt that the men who went about the section that was burned
Page 5
picking up the furniture, took the piano and typewriter. I shall never forget that fire. I lost practically everything that I had and , to tell the truth , I have never seemed able to stage a comeback.
"Men, or rather soldiers from Ft. McPherson were sent out to patrol the streets, directing the people where to walk because of live wires everywhere.
"The Red Cross did a splendid piece of work during that time. I worked with the Red Cross, helping to get homes for the people. The people of Atlanta were loyal and generous to the unfortunates. They took in as many as they could. It was nothing to see six or ten people in two or three rooms.
"We used the card system keeping record of the homeless. We went from house to house, working long hours caring for the people. I had a certain number that I visited each day. My work was commended and , after the people were about restored to normalcy and the services of the workers no longer needed, I was given a bonus of $25.00. I was paid $10.00 a week for my services.
"Most of the people who were burned out were of meager means and lived in the southeast part of the city. There were just a few good livers who were burned out. Of course, this was true of my people but there were a number of white people who were in good circumstances who lost all that they had. Some of their houses were not only burned but dynamited.
"After the fire the city talked of building a park for the colored people in fourth ward but the people didn't want to part with their houses, which consisted of dwellings and little places of business. Of course most of the homes that were burned were replaced with apartments which ruined a good many homes of the colored people in the section of Cain , Hilliard, Highland Avenue and Felton Drive.
Page 6
We? didn't owe much on the home at the time of the fire but , having suffered this great loss, we had to start all over again. My mother never was able to be her real self after this disaster.
"Later, the section having been turned into apartment houses , we took the insurance money, $2,500, and built an apartment. Lumber was high because of world conditions, being in the midst of the World War. After we built the apartment then along came adversities, as is the case following all wars. People were not able to pay their rent and we nearly? lost our home. We struggled along, however, until the Home Owners Loan Corporation was started and then I got a loan. At the time, to me, it was a life saver but after the HOLC took over, made various repairs , added this cost and that cost , and then revamped the value, we were in debt for $6,000. I have regretted many a day since that I turned my home over to HOLC. The cost has nearly doubled. I got behind with my notes and the HOLC? took over the property to handle the rents. All the rents coming from the place and $10 extra which I pay each month are turned over to HOLC. I hope some day the property will be clear and I can again have it in my charge. And do you know it is really a great problem to pay for a Home after it has been turned over to HOLC? I really don't see where it as been such a great help as it was expected when first started. In fact , they don't give as much consideration as a private realtor does and the interest is terrible. About half received from the rent and the $10 I pay is applied? to principal , and the other goes for interest. Whenever I hear anyone talking about trying to get a HOLC on their property I try to discourage the ideal? for I know what fix I have been put in.
"I was born in Atlanta, and after completing school I was able to get work in ? very good jobs. My first job, after finishing
Page 7
school, was teacher in the Parochial School and I taught here ten years. After that I entered the business world. I worked in the insurance work? a number of years. I worked for the Standard Life Insurance Company. At that time one made very good in insurance. of course it was new to our people, as far as Negro ownership was concerned. It took hard work but the profit was good. The reason I did insurance work, it was a new adventure for women but the men, so many of them, were taken out of these jobs and sent to war. These men were sent to France and other war zones and a deal of their jobs had been taken over by women, as is the case at the time of any war. I worked as a clerk when first going into the work. My work was good and so pleased were the officials that I was made secretary of one of the departments , and I worked in the insurance field for ten years. In fact, I did this work until the /Company? failed. After this insurance company failed , I left Atlanta and went to Hot Springs, Ark. , where I worked two years. I had to come back to Atlanta because my mother's health failed and I had to be with her. I then got work in the Pioneer Saving Bank as cashier. I?
"I didn't know anything about the ? banking business but the /Comptroller? from down town was furnished the bank to train the workers. I left out one of my jobs and may as well mention it here. I worked as office secretary for the Y. M. C. A. , and this work gave out eleven months after I had started. I worked at the bank from 1932 until 1937. I gue guess I would still be working at the bank had not th the manager decided to put a relative of his in my place.
"I tried several places after loosing losing the job in the bank to get other private work but failed. As a last resort I made application for WPA work.
Page 8
"My first assignment was on the sewing project where I worked severl? several months , and then I was transferred to the library. This library is part of University Homes, one of the government projects.
"I enjoy the work as librarian quite a bit and hope that WPA will keep this as one of its projects. I would like to remain here. I have decided to take a course in library work so that , should there be changes wherein WPA will have to withdraw its help , I shall be able to take over for University homes.
"I don't know what I would have done had not there been a chance to work on WPA. Likewise I don't see what most of the folk would do if there was no WPA. It has given great numbers of people courage and self respect, wherein they wouldn't have had anything to look forward to.
"I like the work here in the library. It gives me a chance to help the young people who come in , and you would be surprised to know just how man people do frequent this library during the day. I do much toward directing the children as to the best books to read and it is interesting to note just how eager they are to read. One wouldn't believe it, perhaps, but let me show you my circulation for today. See, 94 books have passed through my hands today to tenants here in University Homes. We operate the library for the benefit of this project alone. I have noticed they certainly do have a reading people here and you know what they say about a reading man and that is
'A reading man is a full man.'
I really like this work and hope I can stay on and on, because I feel there is much I can do here.
"Well, I don't suppose there is anything else I could tell you , as I just haven't had a very interesting life. I do feel, however, that I have given you an idea of just why I am on WPA.
Page 9
I am here because I simply couldn't find any other work. Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds on for the same reason. There seem seems nothing else to do but WPA employment and if it would cease I don't know what the people would do. I notice the unrest and uncertainty cause caused by the recent ruling, releasing the workers who have been on WPA 18 months. Those people are desperate , most of them I know. They can't seem to find anything and frankly there isn't anything for them to do.
"I will have to stop now because I have to list and label all of those books you see over there. They just came in today.
"You must come in again to see me. I've enjoyed talking with you and wish I had something really interesting to talk about. I do hope you can get what you want from what I have told you, and it can be seen just why I had to get on WPA.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 70 of 73The Unwelcome Caller
September 20, 1939

September 20, 1939
Mrs. H. G. Moon (White)
645 Baxter Street
126 Milledge Ave.
Athens, Georgia
Bill Collector
By Mrs. Leola Bradley

THE UNWELCOME CALLER

Mildred Mooney is a bill collector. As I approached the house I was a little dismayed to find everything looking desolate, and I was afraid I had missed Mildred. The plain ugly little cottage did not have the usual neat appearance and the yards were rather unkempt. Just as I walked up the steps the door opened and out she walked with a broom in her hand.

"Come right in", said Mildred, "for even though, as you see my morning's work is not yet done, I'm glad of an excuse to rest. John had a bad night so I have not had much sleep. Otherwise, I'm afraid you would not have found me at home.

After debating a minute, we decided it would be cooler on the porch, for it was a fearfully hot morning.

 "Before we sit down", she said, "let's go in and speak to John. He is resting now and will be so glad to see you".

Mildred's home consisted of four rooms, living room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen with a little eating nook in one corner. These rooms were furnished neatly but not luxuriously. Here and there were odd pieces of really good wood but much the worse for wear. Appearances denoted the fact that the Mooneys have seen better days, but unemployment, sickness, and other misfortunes have taken their toll.

As I entered the sick-room I was greeted with a cheery, "Good morning! How are you".

{Begin page no. 2}
Mr. Mooney was lying in bed all drawn with arthritis. He had been a sufferer for five years, unable to make a living for his family. At times he can get around with the use of a crutch or sometimes a stick but is never free of pain. His eyes were bright and he displayed a cheerfulness that made me wonder if it was assumed.

By the side of his bed was his radio, with which he could get the current news. A magazine stand filled with reading matter was in reach so he could pass the time away when unable to be up and about.

"It is good to see someone from the outside", he said. "Sit down and tell me some war news". Since I had not seen the morning paper, there was not much that I could tell him. After we had chatted a few minutes his wife and I went back to the front porch.

Mildred gave a faint sigh as she sat down. "It seems to me that if I could sleep one whole night without being disturbed I would be a new person. Yesterday was an unusually hard day with me. Now one seemed to have any money and, since I only get a commission, my day's work did not prove very profitable. I came home tired and discouraged and, of all nights, John had about the most restless one in a long time."

"Well," I said, "if I had to make my living collecting bills - every day would be hard".

In spite of all her responsibilities and years of hard work to maintain the family, Mildred has not lost her good looks. She is around forty-five years of age, and has brown hair, eyes that fairly beam with enthusiasm, and lines in her face that are visible only under close scrutiny. She always makes a neat appearance. The small sum with which she has to clothe herself obviously is spent to good advantage.

{Begin page no. 3}

The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Mooney, a seventeen-year-old daughter, a married daughter, separated from her husband, and a little granddaughter of four.

"I married young", said Mildred, "and, while I don't regret it and I love my family, I do think young people should think more seriously before jumping into a thing that can bring so many cares. There is Laura", referring to her married daughter, "married to the sorriest man in the world. He has left her now and doesn't even support his child. Well, one thing is sure. I'll take care of her and the baby, but he had better not put his foot back here."

Mildred shook her head vehemently and I could see she was getting rather warmed up over her son-in-law, so I thought best to lead her out along other lines.

"How is Nancy?" I asked, speaking of the young granddaughter.

"Oh, Nancy is just as meddlesome as she ever has been. The child just can't keep still. And dirty! I have never seen a child pick up as much dirt, and a girl at that. It's just a blessing that it doesn't kill. And her mother is so busy trying to do our housework when I'm out, and sewing for the family she just doesn't have the time to care for Nancy as she should.

"I'm crazy about my family and my grandchild. I didn't use to believe in limiting your family, but I declare to you when troubles come and money is so hard to get it's a blessing I didn't have any more.

"And there's Laura. S'pose she had more with that sorry husband of hers. I tell you no matter how much you love your children, if you haven't had 'em you don't miss 'em.

 "Then, too, there's not only taking care of them while they are little but they have to be educated. Now, as for me, I didn't have so much education but I've managed to get by. I was one of a large family and my parents were not

{Begin page no. 4}

able to give me more than just high school education. And we have not been able to educate our own much. Caroline, here, has had some business training and has worked some but is out of work right now. We do expect to do our best for little Nancy.

"We want a house, though, first of all and, by the way, we are fixing to move. This house is shabby and the street so dusty. I'm trying to get a large house and rent some rooms, for we are just obliged to have more money. We have never owned a home but we used to live in better houses. Mr. Mooney made good money when he worked, but our income now is so little we can hardly live. In other words we just pay rent and have a little to eat. Why, one hundred dollars a month would seem like a gold mine.

"Of course, I need a car in my work but I can't have it, so that's that. I walk everywhere I go. That's one thing about my job I like. I'm in the open and I get lots of exercise. Of course there's plenty of work I'd like better but I don't seem to be able to get it. It's honest but not always so pleasant. I've done other work before I began collecting. Why, I clerked in one store for fifteen years. After that I was without work so I applied for work on WPA and I worked on several projects. The first was a canning job. Let me show you something."

She went into the house and brought out a picture. "Here I am in my uniform," she said." They made us wear white. See that cat on that bush?" I looked and sure enough there was s big white cat perched up on a piece of shrubbery. "Well, she said, "that cat died two hours after that picture was made. Guess it was the shock.

"Well, the next project I worked on was the sewing room and, boy, howdy, that's where my troubles began. it was this way", she continued. "I like to work when I have a good supervisor and one who knows the work, but sometimes

{Begin page no. 5}

they'll put some little upstart over you who just doesn't know what it's all about. And it goes to their head too, and it turns them fool. Well, we had one of them things. To start with I wasn't able to sew on a machine, so they put me and Mrs. Davis to cutting. We got on fine. They generally cut slow but the way we did we folded the cloth several times and would cut a lot at one time. We turned off work fast. One day that hell cat came and told us we'd better slow down or we would cut ourselves out of a job. `Fool along,' she would say, `don't be so smart.' I flared up, so I said, `There's not a lazy bone in me and I'll be damned if I'm going to laze around here all day!' Then Mrs. Davis and I decided we would cut a lot, then the rest on our backs for awhile, so e tried that. That woman came around and found us sitting down. `Well,' she said, `if you can't find something to do you'd better go home'. I said, `I won't do that either,' so she went for the head of the whole thing. She came and listened to that gal's tale. She didn't tell it straight, by the way, so Mrs. Davis and I had to set her right. The big boss told us to cut any way it suited us best just so we kept ahead of the machines. So we began again. After that she picked on us worse than ever. To start with I had forgotten more about cutting than she would ever have sense enough to learn. One day she tried to make me cut a collar wrong so I said, `To hell with your collar. If you want it cut that way, cut it your dam self!' So I walked out and that was my last WPA job.

"Another time I was collecting some bills for two or three men here and once or twice one of them came to the sewing room to see me on some business. I found out some of them women were making catty remarks about me, so I had to get them told. No, I guess I don't make a very good WPA worker. I can't `stretch it out' as they say. I want to do what I'm gonna do and get through with it.

{Begin page no. 6}

"Now Understand", she said in a more serious mood, "I think the WPA is doing a lot to help people who need it but, of course, it's only to give jobs to people who can't get them. If I can keep in a job I don't want anything from the government.

"Anyway after I quit, they certified Caroline and gave her work, so that was all the same. She's off right now. She was with the Soil Conservation but her job just played out and she's not been put on again.

Well, just look coming up the street!", she said in a surprised tone of voice. "If that don't beat all, there comes the `buzzard' poking back here.

That's my son-in-law I'm so proud of. Well, one thing sure, if he gets him a job and goes to work, okay, but he'll not lay around here for me to support".

I decided it best to discontinue my interview for the present so after arranging for another visit, I took my departure.

The following Tuesday afternoon, I went back. On the house was a sign - FOR RENT. I knew Mildred had moved. I inquired next door and got her address. I went just a few blocks down the street and found her number.

In the yard there was a sign which read - ROOMS, and I knew Mildred had started on her new venture, that of renting rooms.

This house was a large rambling affair in need of repair but very comfortable looking. The yard although neglected, was spacious and cool looking. I rang the bell and again Mildred met me with the dust cloth and broom in her hands. "Well", she laughed, "I guess you think I'm always after someone with a broom. I'm only raising cain with the dust and dirt. Come in though; I'll stop a while to talk to you. I'm not going out collecting today.

"You know collecting bills is a funny business. You have to use real psychology. If you hit a person in the right mood they will pay their last

{Begin page no. 7}

penny on a bill, but if you meet them when they are in a bad humor they wouldn't give you a dime if they had all sorts of money. I had a funny experience not long ago. I had a long past due bill for an optometrist to collect out of a mill worker. I went and every time she would put up a hard-luck tale, so I left off going for about three months. Finally one morning I decided I would try again. It was a terribly hot day and a long way and I had walked every step of the way. I knocked on the door and a child answered. I asked for her mother and the little girl invited me in. I just stepped inside more or less to get out of the heat. The woman at first tried to hide, but when she knew I had seen her she came up the hall fiery mad. `What are you doing in my house?', she asked.

`I was invited in', I answered.

`Well, yer ken git right out agin'.

I kept calm but was burning down inside. `I won't get out and you can't put me out. I'm not so large, but you put your hands on me and see what will happen'.

Then followed some nasty words. `Let me tell you something', I said. I came inside for two reasons: First, to get out of the heat; second to keep the neighbors from hearing you. I was trying to protect you for I knew what kind of a tongue you had'.

She kept trying to get me out. `I'll call my husband', she said. Her husband came out and was as insulting as his wife.

"I told them, `Now here I am. You can't kill me and if you did you can't eat me and if you could eat me you would have more brains in your stomach than you have ever had in your head'. Well, I don't have to tell you I didn't get any money.

{Begin page no. 8}

"Another time I had was collecting a florist bill from a rich woman. She had been denying it for some time, but finally she admitted that she owed it. One morning I went to her house. She came to the door and tried to shut it in my face, but I just put my foot inside the door and stopped her. `Now listen', I said `this is my way of making my living and I've treated you nice. Now you be as nice to me. When you bought those flowers the man didn't slam the door in your face, did he? Now you treat me with the same courtesy'. Well, I collected that one after so long a time.

"Most of the time the poor people pay up better than the rich. Funny to me how people will buy flowers when they know they are not going to pay for them. I have more florist bills than a few, and they are always hard to collect.

"Of course the wealthy people can always send a maid to the front door to tell you 'She ain't home'. One day I rang a door bell and a dumb looking Negro came to the door. In answer to my inquiries about her mistress, she said, 'No, no, she say she ain't home. Anyway I heard her say she didn't have no money. Lady, she don't pay nobody. I'se quittin' her myse'f.

"Oh yes, I forgot to tell you - abruptly getting off the subject of collecting - Laura's husband has a job. It's WPA, too. He's going to Atlanta today to take a course in Safety Driving though he will come back and work in Clarke County. That will be a big help. Now if I can just rent these rooms maybe we can make it.

"Are you keeping up with the war? I just wonder if we are going to get into it. The President says we won't. I'm crazy about Roosevelt, but I don't take much part in politics. Governor Rivers sure did have things in a mess awhile, but maybe if he gets the right kind of help he'll pull out.

"Yes, we all go to church when we can. Of course, I don't take any active part for I never know when John is going to be too sick for me to leave him.”

The door bell rang and, excusing herself, she went to the door. The callers were college boys looking for a room. Presently Mildred came back with a smile on her face.

“Hot dog,” she said, “I’ve rented one room to four boys. If I can just make my room pay rent, then I can use the other change for necessities. John, for instance needs medicine right now. I just can’t make my money stretch.”

Some other prospective roomers walked up on the porch so I thanked Mildred and went on my way.

Submitted by Hazel Kimbrell

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 71 of 73
A Visit to a Flower Shop
Augusta, Georgia?
A VISIT TO A FLOWER SHOP
Written by: Miss Grace McCune
Area 6 - Athens
Edited by: Mrs. Sarah H. Hall
Area 6 - Athens
and
John N. Booth
Area Supervisor
Federal Writers' Project
Areas 6 and 7
Augusta, Georgia
March 3, 1939
February 21, 1939
Miss Willie Jones, Proprietor (white)
Jones Flower Shop
Cor. Clayton & College Ave.
Athens, Georgia
Florist
G.M.
A VISIT TO A FLOWER SHOP
Miss Smith's Flower Shop seemed more like a spring garden in full bloom than a business place when I came in out of the bleek? cold of a February day. There were flowers on every hand. Cut flowers were in wall baskets, vases, and tall standing baskets. Pots of blossoming plants were arranged on tables at the windows. A long table extending down the center of the room was laden with vases of cut flowers and potted plants, and tall palms added distinction to the attractive room. Across the back of the shop were huge refrigerators filled with cut flowers. For the convenience and comfort of customers a settee and a number of large chairs were placed near the wall where their occupants could have a good view of the flower-filled room as they waited.
The florist was talking with two young men, and as I waited bits of the conversation attracted my attention. The youths wanted her prices on corsages for their "dates" to wear to a dance. It seemed that they priced every variety of flower in her store before they finally selected orchids. After receiving her positive assurance that the flowers would be ready and delivered in ample time for the dance, they left.
Page 2
"Now, what can I do for you?" she asked. After I had explained that I wanted to know something of her life and her business experiences, she said, "I don't mind but I'll have to talk as I work, for the orders that came in the morning mail are yet to be gotten out. Most of them are for flowers ordered sent to patients in the hospitals here. Just come on back in the workroom with me."
"Do you receive much business of that kind?" I asked.
"Oh yes," she said. "These orders come in almost daily, and I appreciate mail orders. I'm proud of them, for I realize they mean that my customers have confidence in me. Why sometimes the orders simply state the price, leaving the selection of flowers to my taste. For instance, here's an order that came in this morning's mail from a woman in a nearby town that simply says for me to send a three dollar order of flowers to a friend in a hospital here. When I receive an order like that I do the best I can and send what I would want for myself. On this particular order I think I'll send pink carnations, for I think they are lovely in a sick room. Anyway, this order is an easy one for the sick woman is a good friend of mine, and I happen to know that carnations are her favorite flower.
"Very often new customers tell me that some of my old customers sent them to me. I try to let them know of my appreciation. One especially nice customer has sent me many new customers through her connections with several fraternal organizations, and
Page 3
this has meant quite a bit of business for me. I had an opportunity not long ago to show my appreciation when she lost her brother in a nearby town. A good many orders came in for that funeral, but when she called me and asked me to fix her own offering, I asked her if I might make my own selection of flowers and design. She readily gave her consent saying, 'You have never disappointed me yet.' I used all white flowers in the casket spray that I sent, and it seemed to me that it was a really lovely offering. I wanted it to be especially so, but I was not expecting the many messages I received about those flowers. One was from the undertaker in charge of the funeral. He wrote me that they were often asked by the families that they served to order flowers for them. He said that all of the flowers that came from my shop had been beautiful and that this particular casket spray was the loveliest they had ever handled. He wanted to know if I would fill orders for his firm regularly. That request came from a much larger town than this one."
She left me momentarily to wait on a customer. As I waited, I looked over the little workroom. High stools were placed around the long work table. Built-in cabinets hold supplies and accessories. Conveniently at hand on a long rod at one side of the table was waxed paper, cellophane, and tissue paper to be used in packing flowers for delivery. A supply of tulle and ribbons in a wide variety of shades and colors was in a large cabinet with glass doors. A large and very business-like desk was evidence that this room was also used as her office.
Page 4
The florist was laughing when she returned to the workroom. "Poor boy," she said, "This is the third time he has been here today to look at those red roses. Tomorrow is his girl friend's birthday. She will be 20, and he wants to send her 20 red roses. Red roses are rather expensive at this time of the year, but he'll get them yet; he wants them so bad.
"Last week I had a large order for corsages for a valentine ball. They wanted sweetheart roses. I did have a time trying to get those sweetheart roses, but finally I found one place that said they could send me all I wanted, so I sent them a large order. It was delivered on the morning of the very day I was to deliver the corsages in the evening. When I unpacked that shipment I found a note saying they were sorry that they did not know they were out of sweetheart roses when they accepted my order, but they were sending some fine large roses and hoped I could use them. It was too late to try anywhere else, and then too I had already tried everywhere. Well, I just had to make the small roses out of the larger ones. Yes, you may be sure it was a job, but in this kind of work you come up against all sorts of difficulties. Our orders have to be delivered on the very hour, and to get out large orders we sometimes have to work day and night in order to have them ready in time. One thing we have to do is to be prompt in our deliveries. We would not last long in this business if we failed in timing a few deliveries."
"How long have you been in the flower business?" I asked.
"Most all my life," she promptly replied, "but I have only been in business for myself 16 years. It was a hard pull but I have
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advanced from a very small beginning to the shop that you see now, and don't you think I'm not proud of it. I am more than proud of my establishment, although it still means work all the time. Why, I spent all of this morning writing checks for every bill that I owe. I meant to do that yesterday, but was just so busy I didn't have the time.
"To get back to how I started, it all came about through my love of flowers. We always grew lovely ones at our home. Father was not what you would call wealthy, but we had a good living and a large roomy home. There were six of us children and while we were still in school father lost 'most everything he had except our home by going on notes for his friends. That has been a lesson to me in my business.
"We children had to stop school and go to work, and that is when I began to realize that we could make money out of our flowers. One of my sisters and I worked with the flowers, and we soon cleared enough to have a large greenhouse built for the hothouse plants. We planted every available bit of land around our home in flowers. We had many things to learn, but we kept at it until we did learn and built up a good business. We were both determined to see it through and we are both at it yet, although we no longer work together.
"A few years after we started, we built a swimming pool and a dancing pavilion on our place. This soon became a popular resort in the summer months. In addition to those who came/ simply for swimming and dancing, many picnic parties patronized our place. We kept the
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pool cleaned out and had it cemented. It filled from a large spring. We were making good with it, as well as with our floral business, but when my sister got to where she left most of the hard work for me to do, our partnership was soon dissolved.
"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 set 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 belonged to both of us together, but that's when I decided to get out and see if I couldn't 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 hadn't 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 couldn't 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
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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.
"We had built a nice large greenhouse together, and we owned a car together that we had been using to deliver our flowers. In fact, I had paid more on the car than she had, but, bless you soul, she went up in the air and wouldn't even let me use the car to deliver my orders until I could get another one.
"I've always detested the idea of giving up anything that I had started, so the more she tried to stop me, the harder I tried to get ahead with my new business, but it was hard. I had to build a new greenhouse that cost me $2,500 and I had to buy another car, for those were two things that I had to have if I was to stay in business. Soon I started building my own residence. I would get a little done and then would have to stop and wait until I had more money. The contractor would say, 'Just let me go ahead and finish the house, and then you can pay me later.' I wouldn't consent to that for I always want to see where I am, and I didn't know then, the way my sister was trying to hinder my business, if I was going to be able to keep my shop going. In the fall of that year my partner asked me to use some of his money to finish the house so I could move in it before cold weather, for I would need someone there to see that the heat was kept properly regulated in my new greenhouse. Seeing that he was right about it, I did borrow the
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money from him, had my house finished, and moved in before time to heat the greenhouse. But, let me tell you right now, I paid him back every cent by the early spring of the next year. Since then I have kept on making improvements on my home until now I have a lovely eight-room house, modern in every respect except for gas. Yes, it was tough going, but, as my partner said one day when I was unusually blue, 'remember that old saying, you can't keep a good women down.'
"My people continue to impose on me since I have worked and made good. In addition to improvements on my residence and its grounds, I have built several cottages. This might seem to be a jumbled-up story, but you'll soon see the connection in the impositions of my family, my cottages, and my business.
"Two young married men work for me. One of them is my nephew. I provide a house, lights, and water for each of those couples, and I guess I furnish their coal too, for my coal bill is not less than $17? every two weeks. I pay them good salaries too, for our work is not like 'most any other kind of business on account of the irregular hours I'm compelled to require them to be on duty. There are times when we have to work day and night.
"My nephew is supposed to help me here in the shop when he is not busy out at my greenhouse and garden, and I especially count on him to help with deliveries, but half the time I don't even know where he is. His wife helps me in the shop in rush times, but I sure do have to pay her. In spite of the fact that I'm always doing
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something for them, they do not offer to do anything for me unless I pay them for it.
"I'm always buying something for this nephew's two little children, but he and his wife don't appreciate what I do for them. I pay bills for things that I never see. He and the other young man that I hire to work out at my place just do pretty much as they please. Why, just let me get in a big rush here at 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 I have had to move twice because I needed more room for my business, for it has grown from year to year, and now I'm getting just about all the trade that I can take care of. That sister of mine thinks that I should do more/ /for my kinfolks than I do, but I can't see it that way, and, in fact, I don't see how I could do much more for them. True, I don't keep any of them in my own house any more. That just didn't work out well when I tried it; we couldn't get along together, but I do provide a house for one of my sisters and one for a brother and his family, and I help to feed them. Father and mother are both dead, and I am sure that/ I do as much for the remaining members of the family, as any of them do for each other, or for anyone.
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"All of them think they are keeping up with what I make through my nephew. What they don't know is that I have learned not to let him know about my financial affairs. He takes no interest in the work and in the problems of the shop and greenhouse and just will not look after the shop at all. Right now I need to get out and take a trip or a rest somewhere, but bad as I need rest I can't afford to leave my business to run itself."
Someone came in the shop and the florist went to join the prospective customer. I noticed some pictures over her desk. They were pastel tinted pictures of lovely little girls, and one of a baby boy, but my attention was especially attracted to a photograph of a cemetery scene. It was the grave of a child, and beside it was a Christmas tree with all the decorations needed to make a child happy. A large illuminated star crowned the tree. Evidently someone had celebrated the birthday of Christ by the grave of a beloved child.
A triumphant smile of a good natured I-told-you-so style wreathed the face of the florist as she came back to the workroom, and sure enough her first words were:
"I told you so; that boy couldn't resist the red roses for his sweetheart. He came back and ordered them. Now he's so happy, and I hope she will be just as thrilled when she gets them, as he is over sending them."
The next two customers were young men. One ordered talisman roses sent to a young woman, and the other wanted a pot of flowers
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for a sick friend. She patiently and tactfully showed one pot of flowers after another, explaining its merits and giving prices until at last a choice was made. One customer followed another so rapidly that it was nearly two hours before she was at liberty to talk with me again.
She had just finished waiting on a rather shabbily dressed boy, but she was just as friendly and helpful in showing him her stock of flowers as she had been with the more prosperous looking visitors. When he had gone she said, "I wish I knew who that boy is. He comes in nearly every day just to look at my flowers. He really is a lover of flowers. I often give him a few for I imagine he can't afford to buy them. In some respects he's more of a child than a man, even if he is grown in size."
She finished recording her orders for the morning, and I took the opportunity to ask about the pictures of the children, taking care to let her know of my interest in the one of the Christmas tree by a child's grave.
"Those are all children of my nephews," she replied. "This one," she said, handing me the photograph of the eldest child, "is the one that is buried in that grave. She was my favorite. I love them all dearly, but she just seemed to think more of me. A few years ago she was accidentally killed by a truck just a few weeks before Christmas. How she did love Christmas trees! Every Christmas we keep a brightly lighted tree by her grave throughout the holiday season. She was a bright child and everybody loved her." The tears were brimming in her eyes, but they were quickly wiped away as Miss Smith arose to greet the person who was entering the shop.
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I thought I detected a sudden stiffening of her manner as the person, who proved to be a salesman, attempted to interest her in the idea of giving him an order for supplies. "I don't need a thing," she told him. He kept on urging. "How about some pots?" Again she replied, "No, I don't need a thing." He flushed. "Aren't you ever going to forget about that old matter?" he argued. "I told you that I am not in need of anything," she repeated more frigidly than before. His "thank you," was in tones of annoyance and discouragement as he went out.
"I wish that man would stop coming in here," she explained. He gave me a dirty deal on an order once, and I just won't forget about it. It was a rather large order, for hundreds of pots for one thing. There were pots of every size and the order totaled hundreds of dollars. Well, he proceeded to overcharge me on every item on that order. I found it out when a price list came in the shipment of goods. I guess I should have reported him, but I didn't. I just stopped giving any more of my business to him, and he does hate to miss the large orders he used to get from me. You see, I try to buy in large orders, for the larger the quantity ordered, the better price they give you, and then I keep an extensive stock on hand and watch it to be sure that I do not run out of anything.
"A good deal of my stock of supplies is stored at my house, but I'm going to have to stop keeping it there or make some sort of change in my system of handling it." She laughed heartily, as she continued, "I always buy my galax? leaves and other foliage green
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stuffs in large quantities, not less than one hundred pounds at a time, and keep it at the house, bringing it in with me in the mornings as I need it. Well, just before last Christmas one day when I had just about used up all we had here in the shop, I phoned to my house and told one of the boys to bring me in a supply. A few minutes later he called me back and said there was none? there. I sent him back to look again, but he couldn't find a scrap? of foliage. My nephew had come in the store and was standing by me as I phoned but he didn't say anything.
"When I went home that night I found that the boy had been right. I didn't have any foliage on hand. I couldn't imagine what in the world had happened to the supply I had stored away at home. Finally, after Christmas had come and gone, I found out what went with it. One day my nephew was boasting that his wife had sold more than a hundred dollars worth of these little Christmas flower pots at the dime stores. I realized then where my supplies had gone. No, they never said a word to me about it, never even mentioned it to me, but they don't pull as many things over me as they think they do. That nephew of mine thought he was smart when he built a cow stall, and had a cow in it before I knew anything at all about it because he had built a high trellis between my house and the cow stall." She laughed rather bitterly as she added, "They feel so sure they will get all I have when I'm gone that I guess they think they might as well us it now."
She waited on more customers and when she returned she said, "Trade has been rather dull today, but I guess I need a slack day occasionally for I have been in such a rush lately."
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Her hands were moving swiftly as she talked and when the orders were ready for delivery she phoned the number listed as her house. She waited impatiently for some time, finally the phone was answered by her nephew's wife who said he was not there. It was necessary that the flowers be delivered without further delay, so she called a taxi and made her deliveries. "Just see how it is," she said. "It's this way 'most all the time. People that I pay to help me think they can do me just any old way, but one of these days they'll go too far.
"Why last spring when it seemed like they were getting behind with the work out at my place, and I really don't like to overwork anyone, I got a settled man to go out there and help them until the rush was over. It was some special work. When he had finished and I was paying him off he said to me, 'Miss Smith, I don't like to tell things on other folks, but you just don't know how things are going on out there at your place. When I first went out there on this job they said I must heed their advice to 'see nothing, hear nothing, know nothing,' for as your nephew had been getting by, they didn't want me to tell on him and them.'"
Miss Smith's laugh was rather hollow as she said, 'I fired both of those couples last fall, for going off at a time when I needed them very bad. They didn't think I'd do it, but I did, and sent for another boy to work in their stead. Well, do you know what those two boys did? They went and told the other boy that I had changed my mind. Next morning when I came out to go to work, my nephew was there waiting in my car, and the other helper was already at work trimming the
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hedges - or pretending to - and both of them were watching me close. They had good jobs and knew they couldn't do anyone else like they do me. Well, for a time they did fine after that, and I got more work out of them than I ever had before.
"I'll have to hire my nephew's wife to help me get out those corsages for the dance tomorrow, but I always have to pay her four or five dollars for every day that she works here. She is good help and really knows how to turn off the work, so she's worth what I pay her, but what annoys me is that she never offers to help me unless I ask her and then she is sure she'll get paid for it.
"My family are always borrowing money from me, but they never pay it back. They wouldn't think of trying to do anyone else that way. I guess they just figure that I don't need it, but it just isn't fair, for I pay them well for all they ever do for me, and they have all the flowers they want, whenever they want them. I like to see them put flowers in their houses.
"It's the children that give me real pleasure running around the house when I'm at home. Without them to run in I would get mighty lonesome, especially on Sundays. I do my own cooking but I hire someone to come in and do the cleaning.
"Last Sunday one of my friends was visiting me and she said, 'I knew you were crazy about flowers, but I didn't know that you were as bad off as you are. Do you know how many vases of flowers I have counted in your house today? Fifty-two, and I don't know how many more I might find if I hunted for them.' This friend
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really likes my home, and it's natural that she should, for I do have a nice place. It's just outside the city limits, and it seems to me I've already mentioned to you about the cottages that I built on the place to rent. I don't have any trouble keeping those convenient little houses rented.
"The electric power lines go right by our place, so of course we have had everything wired for electricity. I use an electric pump to furnish water for the house and greenhouse and we have plenty of it. About the only thing we miss is gas to cook with, but we prefer to cook with electricity. While we live in the country, we have all the conveniences of city life, and as our place is on a paved highway we have no trouble in getting to town.
"I often come back in town at night to shows, as that is about all the recreation I have time for. I go to church on Sundays unless I have to work, but when a big funeral is on hand, I work harder on Sunday than on other days. Sometimes when I can get one of my helpers to stay at the house on Sunday, I get away for a whole day, and the change of scene always does me good. Those days-off are seldom, for you can never tell when someone will phone in an order on Sunday and want it in a hurry, and I am usually the one that has to stay there and tend to business.
"I often think of what our old Negro cook told me once when I was little. She was trying to get me to do something that I didn't want to do. Well, after trying every other way she knew, she just turned me across her lap and gave me the only whipping I ever received.
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As she spanked me she was saying, 'some of dese days, youse gwine'er haf to do fer yo'self, and how's you gwine'er git along, lessen you larns how"'
"How right she was! I really have/ had to work, but in spite of all my handicaps, I've made a good living, and now I'm trying to lay aside enough to take care of me when I get to where I can't work. I have several very good investments in stocks, and that seems a better investment than building houses to rent, for there's something to be spent on repairing rented property all the time. Most of the renting class of people will not take care of a house, simply because it is not their own property.
"I do have a time with my social security payments and records. In fact, I still don't entirely understand them; I really don't know what it all means. I don't object to it, and I'm willing to do my part. It was just a little complicated at first, but my reports pass all right now, I guess, for I don't hear any more from them after I send them off.
"Last Sunday my sister wanted to know just how much insurance I'm carrying on myself.
" 'Not any at all,' I replied.
"She was shocked and gave me a 'raking over the coals,' as our old cook used to say.
" 'Why should I carry insurance?' I asked. 'I have no husband or children of my own to leave it to, and I think I can take care of myself financially as long as I live.' I guess they want all
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they can get.
"The first of this year I made a resolution not to lend any money to anyone during this year."
"Have you kept that resolution?" I asked.
"I did for one day," she said as she laughed heartily. "Maybe it was two days I kept it, and then my nephew and my other helper wanted $10 each. Of course they got it. They know exactly how to get around me."
After stopping to wait on customers again she came back to the workroom saying, "The rain is coming down in torrents, and I have to send out some of these flowers. Guess I'll have to use a taxi again for that nephew of mine has not come back yet and it's 'most time to close up the shop and go home. He knows I can't drive an automobile, so I'm pretty sure he'll get here in time to take me home. It's a good thing this hasn't been a busy day, for I couldn't have gotten hold of him if I'd needed him ever so much."
I wondered why she spoke of business as dull, for she had worked hard all day. As I left, I stopped to thank her for giving me so much of her time, and I told her that the interview had been a most interesting and informative one for me. "I enjoyed talking to you," she said, and added, "I'm glad you came in, for I don't like to be by myself."
A man passed me in the doorway. Evidently he was her truant nephew, for I heard her greet him, "Where have you been all day?" As I walked down the street I wondered if he was able to present an excuse sufficiently plausible to satisfy the florist. It would certainly have to be a good one.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 72 of 73
A Visit with Aunt Joe
CONTINUITY
Mrs. Josephine Wood
250 Baxter St.
Athens, Ga.
January 13, 1939
Grace McCune
A VISIT WITH AUNT JOE
It was in a heavy downpour of rain, and on Friday, "the thirteenth," that I started out for an interview with Mrs. Wood Hill, and contrary to all of the old superstitious beliefs, that Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky day, I caught a ride, right to the house. But as the car turned off the pavement of Lumpkin Street, and I looked at the long, old red hill, that is Baxter  Erma? Street, I held my breath and wondered if I was lucky after all.
My friend laughed at me, and said, "I have made it over worse looking places than this, and she made it again, after a little slipping and sliding we were there. Stepping out of the car, my foot slid into a mud hole that filled my shoe with muddy water, but I felt lucky at that. Thanking my friend for the ride, I stepped on the sidewalk and mired in the soft mud, walking up the steps, I found water standing in the walk, seeing no way around it, I went through it, and at least washed the mud off of my shoes.
As I reached the porch, the door was opened by Mrs. Woods' Hills daughter, and she said, "come right in to the fire,
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and dry your feet or you will sure have a cold. " I stopped to remove my coat and hat in a large hall that was furnished with bookcases, libary table and several large rocking chairs. I was then ushered in Mrs. Woods' Hills room. This was a large comfortable bedroom. The red sides of the heater, showed where the heat was coming from, that made one forget the disagreeable weather outside. Mrs. Woods' Hills other daughter, Mrs. Shetton Davis, and her baby was were in the room, and as they stood up when I went in, ( Mrs. Wood's other daughter, Mrs. Shetton Davis, and her baby, was in the room, and as they stood up when I went in,) Mrs. Wood Hill said "I did not think you would be able to get out in all this rain, but I am so glad that you did for it will sure help pass away this bad day.
Mrs. Wood Hill suggested that she have a fire made in the living room, as she was afraid the baby might worry me. The thought of going in a cold room was too much for me, I said the baby would not worry me, and it was so warm and comfortable where we were: that decided it, and we remained in Mrs. Woods Hills room. I had made the appointment several days before with Mrs. Wood Hill. After she insisted that I move nearer the stove, where my feet would dry. She started talking.
"I don't know if I will be able to tell you anything that will be of any interest or not, for I was born and raised in the country. My mother and father, Jesse Robert and
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Martha Hill Mary Head? were living between here and Barnett Shoals and about two miles from Whitehall. When I was still very small, my daddy moved to Whitehall, but it was called Georgia Factory then, and about the first thing that I can remember that would be important is when Sherman came through Georgia.
"We were living at Georgia Factory then, and it was not like it is now. Every house and lot was fenced off to itself. The White's had their home there also at that time. All the men that were not too old to go was in the war, except the White's, they were at home. Everyone was scared when they heard the Yankee's were coming, and people buried everything they could.
"The Yankees came through Franklin and Hart County, just tore up everything as they came through, took all the stock, cows, horses, mules and killed the hogs in the pens, and carried them along for the yankee soldiers to eat, went through houses also, took anything they wanted especially everything they had to eat, and what they didn't want, they tore it up so badly that the people could not use it any more.
"My grandfather lived on Mr. Mauldin's place near Lavonia, Ga. and the yankees came by their place. Mr. Mauldin got all his provisions and other things buried before they got there. He took up the floor of his kitchen and buried his things there. But my grandfather was not so lucky, as they caught him while he was trying
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to hide his provisions. Them yankees took every bite they had to eat. Grandmother got down on her knees, prayed and begged them to leave her just enough of syrup and bread for her children's breakfast, but they wouldn't do even that, just poured the syrup out on the ground, and left them without anything to eat.
"At that time Augusta was the nearest place that you could buy anything, and it was a five day's trip from Grandfather's to Augusta in a wagon, and that was the only way people traveled then. One of my aunts had raised a little heifer and she cried and begged them not to take her calf, but to leave her just that one thing, but it was carried off with the rest of the stock. They also killed their hogs and carried them off. After the Yankees left, Mr. Mauldin came down to Grandfathers, and told him that he would let him have enough to eat to last him until he could get to Augusta and buy something to eat.
"When they got near Georgia Factory, the people were so scared they didn't know what to do, for there was no one there except women and children, and they were working in the mill to make a living for the men were fighting. All of the White's left and came to Athens to hide, except old man White's oldest son, Jim, he stayed hid out down on the river in an old hollow tree, with some blankets to sleep on.
There was just one old man, Mr. Connelly, who was so old that he couldn't hardly get about left to look out for all the women and children. I was just about four
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years old at that time and I guess I was scared so bad, is why I remembered so well. We children climbed up on the gate post to watch as the long line of yankees could be seen coming down the long hill. They said there were four hundred yankees in that company.
"They were searching the houses as they came to them, said they were hunting for all the men, sex? and that they were going to kill all the rich folks. They just went through everything in the houses. Then they went to the mill, said they were going to burn it up. The women got down on their knees and begged them not to burn up the mill, for that was the only way they had to make a living for their children.
"At first the soldiers would not listen to the women. Then they went into the mill, got all the cloth and thread, even tore the cloth off of the looms. Then they divided it among the women, and told them that they would kill them if they gave any of it back to the Whites. I guess you know that Whites run the mill at that time. Next, they went to the company store. Of course, it was locked up. They just busted out the doors and windows, went in, and brought out everything that was in it, piled it all up in front of the store. They then called all of the women on the place, divided all the stuff up among them, made them hold out their aprons and poured syrup in them. One woman asked them to let her get a pan to put the syrup in, but they told her to take that way or not at all.
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"They stayed around there for several days, hunting for the Whites, and the old man Connelly was sliping something to eat to Jim White in the old hollow tree when he could. When they left, people did not see anything of them for about a week, and everyone just knew they were gone. Jim White came up to the Connelly's one day to get him something to eat, and just as soon as he got in the house, someone run to the door and said, the Yankees are coming. Mr. White was scared so bad, he didn't know what to do, because he knew they would kill him if they found him. Mrs. Connelly had more mind about her than anyone else for she pulled the covers off the bed, and made him get between the feather bed and mattress.
The Yankees were searching the houses again and when some of them got to her house, she was very busy making the bed. They asked her if any of the Whites were hid around there anywhere, and being a very truthful woman, she would not tell a story about it, but she didn't say there was either. She just told them that they could search the place and see if they could find anything. She told them to look upstairs, and in the kitchen, talking all the time to keep them from looking at the bed, finally tucking the cover around tight, she carried them out to search the smokehouse. After she got them out of the house, Mr. Connelly raised one corner of the cover a little so that Mr. White would not smother. But them Yankees stayed around there so long that he was almost
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dead. They just tore up the White home, even took the girls dresses out and gave them to the mill women, but after they left that time, they never came back any more.
"Times were sure different in them days from what they are today. Why, I never got to go to school much, as the only time we went to school was when all the work in the field was done, and then we would have to walk two or three miles. And had to stay all day then. I remember one time when I was seven, we had a celebration at the Old Standing Methodist Church. They used it for a school during the week, and church on Sunday. But this was a school celebration, people call them entertainments now. The children all had to recite. They were marched inside the church. The people were all on the outside under the trees where seats or benches had been fixed for them to sit on. The children would come out one at a time to say their piece. When it came time for me to go out I was just scared so bad, that I was shaking all over, and it wasn't much that I had to say, let me see, I believe I can even say that now. The name of it was 'I am five years old Today' and went like this:
'One I was a very little child
And months have passed since then
I am bigger and have taller grown
I am five years old today.
'At first I could not talk or walk
But now I can talk and walk about
Can eat, run and play all day long
For I am five years old today.
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Not much to get scared about was it, but I sure had stage fright then, only we didn't know what that was, and because I said I was five years old, every one thought I was five instead of seven.
"But them school celebration was big days, everybody went, because they didn't have many places to go then. They would always have dinner on the ground, and you know right there in that old church was the first preaching I ever remember hearing. The old Preacher, Ellison Stone, was the preacher, but I still think they were good old days.
"I went to school at the paper mill and then at Princeton also. It was there at Princeton that we hated to go so bad, for we had a man teacher, Mr. Marion Dunaway and he was the meanest man I ever saw, none of the children liked him. He didn't have but one arm, but he sure would whip the little children. The big boys that he was afraid of, he would make them stand in front of the classes, on one foot. The spring where we got water was a pretty good distance from the school, or rather church, for he taught school in the church. And he would not let us get a drink of water, even at dinner time, we were not allowed to leave the school grounds unless we lived near enough to go home for dinner.
"One day it rained awful hard, and there was mud holes out in the yard, and we took our tin cups and drank water out of those mud holes. I told my father about that, and he was so mad, he bought a bucket and dipper for me to
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carry to school, and said Mr. Dunaway had better let us have water to drink. The next morning I carried the bucket and dipper to school with me. He wanted to know what I brought that thing to school for, I told him what my father said, and he sent one of the older boys to the spring for a bucket of water and we did not have any more trouble about getting water.
"The older boys liked to worry him. One day, they didn't know their lesson, and he put two of them in a small closet under the altar and told them they had to stay there. Later he got uneasy about them, afraid that they might smother, and he tried to get them to come out. They refused told him they were going to stay there all night, and let the people find them there, then they would know what kind of a man they were paying to teach school. This scared him, for he knew that none of the children liked him and that it would ruin him. So he begged, and pleaded with them, but they worried him till time to go home before they would come out. and how we kids did enjoy seeing him beg.
"His children went to school also, and his girl Cora and I were good friends. She was always wanting me to go home with her and spend the night. I went one time but never wanted to go again. For he made us study until eight o'clock and then go to bed. He wouldn't let us play at all. He was just as mean at home as he was at school.
"I tell you things and times are changed. I was raised by candle lights for we didn't even have oil lamps
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for a long time and I bet I have made a million candles. We had molds to make them, put a string in then poured the hot tallow on them and they were put aside to get cold. We had homemade wooden candles sticks to burn the candles in. That was all the light we had for years.
"We burned oak and hickory wood in the fireplace, and let me tell you something right now, that fire was very carefully covered at night. For matches were scarce and hard to get. If we went visiting and our fire went out, then we had to borrow a little fire from our nearest neighbor, or start it with Flint and gun powder. I have watched my father start it that way many a time.
"We cooked on fireplaces too, had what we called pot racks. They were built in the fireplace and we hung the pots on them to boil, baked in ovens, and things seemed much better then than they do now. People were hardly ever sick. Why, I was nine years old before I ever heard of anybody dying. Then a little Negro boy died not so far from our place. Mamma told us that she would carry us to see him, for they was going to bury him down in the ground. I couldn't believe that he was dead, and told mamam that he was just asleep. We just couldn't believe that he was really deed, until we saw him buried.
"I guess I was in the first cyclone that was ever in Georgia. I was small, but was large enough to work in
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the field. Me and my little brother, wanted to go to see our grandmother. I remember that it was one Saturday morning. Mama at first said we could go. Then she said we had better wait, as it looked like it? might rain. We went on to the field, and about two hours later, the sun came out. father came to the field and told us that we could go now, for they didn't think it was going to rain.
"It was about four miles to grandma's house and we had to walk, part of the way was through woods, but we were use to it and did not mind the walk. It didn't seem like we had got anyway until it began to turn so dark, and the wind started blowing, and when we got through the wood we could hardley see how to walk, and the wind was getting worse, we started to run, for we was really scared. Just as we got in sight of grandma's house it began to pour down rain, and we was soaked through to the skin, and do you know that wind blow down most of the trees in those woods that we had just come through. Houses, barns, and stables were torn up all through that section and a man that owned a fine tract of wood about ten miles square, lost every tree in it. Several different people had been trying to buy the timber from him and he wouldn't sell, holding it for more money. Folks said that was why everyone of his trees were torn up by the roots. It rained so hard, that two cows had to swim across the road in front of grandma's house. It was an awful storm and people said it was the worst
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one they had ever heard of.
Yes, I was raised in the country and we have had to card and spin the thread to make our clothes. Mama would weave the cloth and I used to make my own stockings knit cotton for summer, and for winter we had yarn stockings, and sometimes we would dye the thread. We used dyes made out of barks. Red oak bark and elder made a light red. Dogwood bark and alder, made a dark purple, almost black.
"Mens suits were all made out of jeans, and I want you to know we didn't have no sewing machines either. It was all done with our hands. Mama could really make a nice suit of clothes, and our underwear was made out of cloth that they called drilling. It was not like the drilling you buy now, for it was made at home.
"Church days, especially protracted meetings was big times for country folks. Everybody went. You could see more wagon and yes, ox carts to. Why, I have went to meeting many a time in an old ox cart, enjoyed it to. But I would like to see some of you young folks today have to start out some place in an ox cart, but you wouldn't go often. Why child, I don't even remember seeing a buggy until after I was married.
My father moved near Watkinsville and was running a sawmill, and that is how I met my husband. He came to work in the saw mill for my father and he boarded at our house. He worked for his board and ten dollars a month.
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I knew when I learned his name that I would marry him. At least I was pretty sure, for a friend of mine and I had tried our fortune a short time back and that was the name I found.
"Oh, and you want to know how we tried fortunes do you? Well, I'll tell you, but you will laugh at it. But I tell you right now young lady, folks didn't laugh at things back in them days. Anway laugh if you want to, here is what we did.
On the last night in April after sundown, we walked backwards to a wheat field. Then we took a white handkerchief and threw it over our right shoulder. Of course we left it there, but we went back in the morning before sun up (which was the first day of May) walked backwards, til we reached our handkerchiefs, turned around and picked them up. On mine was A. J. Wood. It looked more like a worm had just woven around on the handkerchief, but anyway the name was there and I had never met him until he came to our house to stay, but I married him just the same.
"Now if you will excuse me, I will go in the kitchen and fix the cornbread for dinner. These girls of mine are pretty good cooks, but they can't make my cornbread to suit me. I know you don't mind resting a little anyway and I will be right back.
The baby had played until it had worn its self out and was sleeping in Mrs. Wood Hills bed. There was no one else in the room and as I rested I noticed the old
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dresser, made of walnut, with its large mirror. There was the washstand to match it, both old, but lovely and showed that they had been well cared for. There was also a few real old pictures on the walls, that must have been some of the older members of the family. At this time the baby woke up and wanted to get up. His mother came in just as I started to get him. She laughed and said, "I don't expect he would have let you take him, as he seems to afraid of strangers. But it wasn't but a few minutes until he was in my lap playing with my pencil.
Mrs. Wood Hill came back and said, Well how in the world did you get that baby, but she was pleased that I had been able to make friend with her baby as she called it. Just as she started to talk, someone at the door called Aunt Joe Jerry, as she went to see who it was, her daughter, said, everyone calls mama Aunt Joe Jerry, and they have called her that for years, for mama will be 78 next month.
As Mrs, Wood Hill came back in the room, she said, I heard her telling you how old I am, but do you think I look that old? I looked at her, still very straight, tall and just medium weight, dressed in a neat blue house dress, her hair and she really had plenty of that, was between an auborn and born and there were mighty few gray hairs in it was done up on the top of her head. She didn't look as if she could be that old and I said so, that she didn't look a day over fifty. This pleased her, but she said, "Child, I have been here a long time. Why; I have 36 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren so
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you see I am an old woman. But you can just lay your book and pencil down for dinner is just about ready. I told her that was all right to go right on and eat her dinner. But she said, "young lady, as long as you are here, you are going to eat with us, that is if you think you can eat what we eat. Of course, we haven't got so much, but it will keep you from getting hungry. And I hope you want refuse to eat with me for I do like to have company and I am not use to anyone refussing to eat with us. Seeing that she would be really offended, I thanked her and said I would be glad to eat with her.
We ate dinner in the kitchen. As we went through the large dinning room to the kitchen, Mrs. Wood said, "It is such a bad day and so cold that I thought you might like to eat in the kitchen. As she opened the door, I didn't blame her. The kitchen was small, and a large wood range in which a big fire was going made the room cozy and comfortable, a large cabinet, a small square dining table and chairs lamost filled the room.
After Mrs. Wood Hill gave thanks for the meal, she said, "I wanted you to see the bench at the back of the table. All my children have eat on that old bench, and it is still a good one. Not even the back has come off and I have raised some pretty rough boys, but it has stood it all. It was made for my children and I would not take anything for it.
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After we had finished the delicious dinner, and I did not blame Mrs. Wood Hill for liking her cornbread for I don't think I ever ate any just like it. We went back to Mrs. Wood Hill 's room, and she said, "I will have to see if I can remember where I left off. I think I was telling you about finding out about my husband.
"But it was not very long after he came to our house to board, before we had decided that we wanted to get married. When he finally got up the nerve to ask mama for me, I got scared and went to stay with Grandma for a few days. For I knew that mama would be mad, and I didn't want to be there. But she told us both that if we married, we was sure going to marry at home. And I didn't have any business getting married young as I was, for I was just fifteen.
"It was in July when I got married. Lord, but we had a time getting married. July was the time of year for protracted meetings in the country, and the preacher we had engaged to marry us was called away to preach at one of these meetings, and did not get back in time to marry us. Some of the boys started out to hunt up another preacher, but they didn't have any luck in finding one. And some of them just happened to see the old Judge Thomas, going along the road, and he was also a Justice of Peace. They stopped him and he married us. After we were married all of us went on to High Shoals,
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Georgia to preaching. And yes, we went in an old two horse wagon.
"We were living near Watkinsville when I got married. And since that time I have lived most all over Oconee County. Mr. Wood Hill wouldn't stay on the farm, he didn't know much about farming and he was a good carpenter, so not long after we married we moved to Athens.
It was about this time that they finished building the Central of Georgia railroad to Athens. The man, I think his name was Goobsy, that had the contract to build the railroad died before he finished it, but his wife took it up where he left off and finished the job. We used to go and watch them working on Sunday, for she worked just the same on Sunday as any other day. She wore two big pistols strapped around her waist, and she could curse them negroes like a man made them work to. She would try to get people to work on Sunday, the white men wouldn't do it, and she would curse them and tell them to get away from the place then.
"There was only one railroad here when I came to Athens and that was the old Ga. railroad, and it had been here for a long, long time. Why, my father left on the old Georgia railroad when he went to the war. All these other railroads have come to Athens since I have. So you know I have been here a long time.
I remember the first circus that ever come here.
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It was over in East Athens near the old Georgia depot. I know you have heard about the old depot, being across the river on Carrs Hill. I went to the circus, but I have never been in one since. I go to see the parades, when they have them but I have never cared anything about going in another circus.
"I used to go to fairs also, when they had them out at the old fairground. The first fairground here that I remember anything about was between here and Princeton. There was a wedding at the fairground. at one of the fairs. I don't remember who the couple was, but it was called the cotton wedding. They were dressed in cotton. Just as it come from the gin. The cotton was just laid on them in layers, until their clothes were completely covered with cotton. I guess there was about five or six thousand people there to see that wedding.
"Do you know that I have traveled in the old covered wagons? Well, I have even if it wasn't such a long ways off. We moved from here to Hartwell at one time, while Mr. Wood Hill did some work there, and when we come back to see the folks, we came in an old covered wagon. Couldn't make the trip in one day, and we camped at night. We would bring our frying pan and something to cook along with us and we slept in the wagon at night.
"Yes, we enjoyed it. We built a fire, cooked our supper, of course we would always stop at some place where we could get plenty of water. Most all the times
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then you could always find some one else camping also, and sit around the camp fires and talk awhile, then crawl in our wagon and sleep until morning. Those were not such bad times. We had plenty and enjoyed it, more I think than people do now.
"We did not have good bridges back in those days, and almost everytime it came a real hard rain the water would get up and wash the bridges away. It was nothing unusual then to start somewhere that you had to cross a creek or river and find the bridge gone. And the Simton Bridge was worse than any of the others, or at least it seemed that way.
"I started to see mama one day and she lived at Whitehall. I had to cross the old Simton bridge and as usual it had washed away and they had a ferry boat to carry people across the river. I had my baby with me and some clothes for it in an old satchel. We got in the boat alright and across the river. As we reached the other bank the boy that was paddling the boat jumped out and held the rope to hold the boat steady for me to step. out.
"Just as I stood up, over the boat went and into the river went me and my baby. I managed to hold on to the baby but of course we were both soaked to the skin and it was in November and cold, lord how cold it was. I started to wade out for it was not so deep and I saw my satchel floating down the river with my babies' clothes
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in it. I knew I had to have it, so I waded on down the river until I got my satchel, then I guess I was crazy for instead of getting out of the river there, I waded right on back up the river to where the boat turned over.
"I was cold and shivering as I crawled out on the bank with my baby in one arm and my satchel in my other hand. The boy was just standing there scared so bad he didn't know what to do, but he couldn't help the boat turning over. I told him I was cold. He got busy then and built up a big fire on the river bank. I was a sight for we wore more clothes then than people do now, and I felt like I had on more than I really did, for they were dripping water. The baby was cold and crying all its clothes were wet in the satchel. I couldn't walk with all my wet clothes hanging to me. So I pulled off all I could and my yarn stockings and I walked the rest of the way to Whitehall. I just knew it would kill me and the baby too, but you know it didn't even make us sick.
Did I tell you about Mr. Wood Hill 's father? He was captured by the Indians right after he was married. They carried him off and it was three years before he was able to get away from them. After they captured him and carried him to their camp, he was made to marry an Indian girl. It was three years before he was trusted enough to let him get out by himself. Then he was sent to a town for supplies.
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"He was watched even then, but managed to get away. Left the mules and wagon tied in front of a store and slipped out. It took him a long time to get back home to his family. His wife said that he was never the same again, and that he stayed with the Indians so long that it was a long time before they could get him to talk much. And that most of the time when they talked to him, he would only give a grunt as an answer. I tell you people had to go through many things back in those old days.
"I don't know if you have ever heard it or not, but when folks did die back in those times, it was not like it is now. You couldn't just call an undertaker and turn everything over to them. But instead the neighbors come in and did what they could. Of course, they embalm the corpse, but they washed and dress-it, the men had to make the coffins, and they were just made out of plans and the women lined them with some kind of cloth.
"But those dear old neighbors. They would manage by doing each others work, so that some of them could be with the family until after the funeral at least, and people for miles and miles away come when there was death or sickness in a home, and went to the funeral and burying. After I got older I have helped my father many a time make a coffin when someone died.
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They went to funerals in wagons and ox carts. The coffin was placed in one wagon and I have even seen the pallbearers riding on top of the coffin to the funeral. People just had to do all kinds of ways, but I think they were closer to each other then than they are today, and more ready to help each other out in any way they could.
"I have had my good times and my troubles as everyone has. We had ten children and raised nine of them to be grown and married. I have still got seven of them living. As I told you 36 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. I hope if I live and nothing happens to me that I can have all them together with me at one time this summer and that will be a happy time for me. Mr. Wood Hill has been gone a long time, but we learned from the old days that we have to take things as the Lord sends them to us.
"I don't think of anything else now that you would care to know." Realizing that she was tired and needed to rest, I prepared to leave. Thanking her for the nice story and the invitation to have dinner with her, as I put my coat and hat to leave, she said, "I have certainly enjoyed heaving you for you have helped me pass away a day that would have been long and lonesome. I don't want you to forget to come back to see me for I will be glad for you to come at any time you can. Come some Sunday and spend the day and you will see most of my
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children then. As all of them that live around here come to see me on Sunday.
As the door closed behind me, I felt the cold and rain again. It was a job to walk down the old rel hill and I decied I would try to make my next visit when it wasn't raining.
 

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 Item 73 of 73
Women and the Changing Times
WOMEN AND THE CHANGING TIMES
Written by: Mrs. Daisy Thompson
Augusta, Georgia
Edited by: Mrs. Leila H. Harris
Supervising Editor
Georgia Writers' Project
Area 7
Augusta, Georgia
February 16, 1940
Mrs. J. R. Byrd
214 Masonic Building
Augusta, Georgia
February 8, 1940
D. T.
WOMEN AND THE CHANGING TIMES
"It seems as though I have always worked with cotton in some form." Said Mrs. Blount as she pressed some dress material. "Why before I started in the dressmaking business I used to help pick cotton. In fact I earned the money to buy my trousseau in this way."
This busy little woman operates a dressmaking establishment in one of Augusta's large buildings on Broad Street. The place is a mecca for woman who for various reasons fail to find satisfactory clothes in the ready-to-wear shops.
"We are now citizens of Augusta and have made it our home for quite a number of years." She went on. "However, I was born and reared in Walton County, near Mansfield, Georgia. My parents lived on a farm and had eight children - four boys and four girls. I am the eldest and there are three girls and three boys still living.
"My father was a good provider, but it kept him going pretty hard to support a large family. We did manage to live well, but I can assure you there was not much surplus money floating around our domicile. Everybody had to help when
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cotton picking time came. We picked cotton to get the money to buy our clothes. As I told you before I earned my wedding clothes in this manner. I didn't mind, though, for I was going to marry my Joe.
"My mother lived to be 74 years old and my father will celebrate his 87th birthday in May.
"How do country children amuse themselves?" I questioned.
"Well," she answered, "I suppose we amused ourselves just as other normal children do. The little girls loved their dolls and pets - kittens, puppies, chickens, and even white rats. The little boys also had their pets and alll kinds of things.
"I guess that sometimes we would be real smart and help do the work around the place and then again we would feel terribly imposed upon when mother called upon us for assistance. Oh, yes, we were just normal kids. Of course when we got large enough we were assigned certain duties that must be done before we could play.
"My father humored me quite a bit and we were great pals. Sometimes when he went fishing he would take me along and did I love to go with him. I remember on one occasion when he went fishing he carried me and one of the boys. When we reached the river he left us on the riverbank to await his return. He had put out some trot lines, and he got in his bateau and rowed over
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to the trot lines. In just a little while he came back bringing a catfish that weighed 28 pounds. You can just imagine how excited we were.
We carried that big fish home and took great pride in showing it to everybody we could find. We invited all the neighbors and had a catfish supper that night. We had lots of fun and plenty to eat.
"It was great fun to go visit my grandmother. I recall one occasion when my father and I made a visit to her home at Conyers, Georgia.
The railroad station was three miles from our house and we had to walk to the train. I started walking but soon got very tired, and as I was such a little girl, my father took me up in his arms and carried me. When we got to grandmother's house she gave me a big rag doll and I named it Dick. I just adored that doll and when we got ready to go home I held fast to my doll. As we were walking along I felt something pulling and when I looked down there was a big old dog with Dick's foot in his mouth and he did his best to take my doll away from me. I screamed and my father chased him away and saved Dick for me.
"The grown boys and girls in our community used to have parties where we danced and played games. Every visitor in the neighborhood was always invited. One night Joe brought a young lady to the party and when I saw him I said:
"Hello Joe!"
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"It made the girl furious to have me speak to her escort in such a familiar manner.
"Not long after that Joe and I began to have dates and in a few months we were married.
"Did you ask me if we were married at home?" She asked smilingly. "Oh, yes, we were. You see, my parents' home was not very large and we invited just a few friends. The young folks refused to be left out so easily so they got together and not only filled the house, but lots of them were in the yard. So we showed them we were game and marched out on the porch and were married there where all of them could witness the ceremony.
"In those days the young man very often wore frock-tail coats for dress-up occasions. My grandmother would tease me so when I would walk home from Sunday-School with him. I denied emphatically that I even liked him. But she said, 'Never you mind, honey, some of these days you will marry that frock-tail fellow.' Of course she was just teasing, but she proved to be a good prophet for just a little later Joe and I were married.
"You're right, we didn't get our schooling as easily as modern children do. There were no school busses and we had to walk three miles to school. We got used to walking but I can't ever recall turning down a ride when it was offered.
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"And that reminds me of a story I once heard of an old Negro woman who was walking along the road carrying a basket of clothes on her head.
After a while along came a man driving a team of mules hitched to a wagon. Feeling sorry for the old woman he asked her if she wouldn't like to have a ride. She replied: 'Yassir, Boss, I sho would.' With that she crawled up in the wagon. After driving a mile or so the man turned his head to make some remark to the woman and discovered that she was sitting flat on the floor of the wagon with the clothes still on her head.
'Why don't you put the clothes down Mammy and rest your head?' He asked solicitously. She an answered right up: 'Lawsy, Boss, I's so grateful to have dis ride myself, cat I wouldn't think of imposing on you to carry my clothes.'
"We married when we were both quite young and we have four children - 2 girls and 2 boys, and they are all living. We lived on the farm for five years after we married and then moved to Covington, Georgia, where my husband had obtained work with a Furniture Manufacturing Company.
He received a good salary which enabled us to live very comfortably.
"Then the price of cotton, and in fact all farm products, dropped very low and as the farmers had little to spend,
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business suffered. This recession lasted for quite awhile and then my husband accepted a position with the Smith Manufacturing Company at Madison, Georgia. This firm operated a general repair and blacksmith shop, sold wagons and buggies, and also ran an undertaking place.
"The proprietor of the place died before he had been there very long and he worked for the widow and her sons for about six years. Then the Brown Manufacturing Company offered him a more remunerative job which he accepted. This concern operated a flour and a grist mill, manufactured ice, and sold fertilizer.
After another year Joe changed jobs again. This time he went to work for the Baxter Milling Company. His work was hard, he had long working hours, and the position entailed a great deal of responsibility. This overwork eventually caused him to have a nervous breakdown. For quite awhile his mind was affected and while he was never actually violent, we were careful not to cross him. We nursed him carefully and after a complete rest his health improved and in a short time he was able to go back to work.
"In 1917 when the United States became involved in the World War, salaries were greatly increases and by strict economy we were able to save enough money to make a down payment on a
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home of our own. It was not long before we had paid quite a nice amount on it. Unfortunately, when peace was declared the market broke, salaries were cut, and we were dealt quite a hard blow.
"Several years previously, believing business would warrant such a venture, Joe had opened a business of his own. He carried practically the same line of merchandise as did the firms for whom he had worked, excepting of course the undertaking business. He sold carriages, buggies, wagons, fertilizers, and some commodities. He extended credit to the farmers; then when the depression came, he was unable to collect and consequently we lost our business and our home.
"The boll weevil also got in its deadly work. They practically destroyed the cotton and damaged other crops as well. Prices dropped so low that what little the farmers were able to salvage brought almost nothing and consequently they had no money with which to meet their obligations. Sweet potatoes sold as low as 40 cents per bushel; corn as low as 50 cents, and other products sold accordingly.
"Joe and I educated our children the best we could. We have given all of them a grammar school education and the equivalent of two years in high school.
"After losing our business and our home we moved to Augusta and made a new start. The children secured work and it wasn't long before Joe was able to pick up temporary work. I took in sewing and helped all I could. I have kept it up and at the present time
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I am in the dressmaking business with a friend on a 50-50 basis.
"Shortly after we came here my husband worked for the city, and then he worked for the Georgia Power Company. For the next several years Joe worked for cotton oil mills, one of which was located at Raleigh, North Carolina. While at work in the latter place a huller machine blew up and he was hurt badly.
"The company paid him his entire salary for the six months that he was laid up. He tried to work again but after two or three days he had to give up and go back home. Just as he had recuperated sufficiently to return to work the mill shut down and he was again without work.
"Joe has always been blest with undaunted courage and strong determination and he again sought employment at the Southern Cotton Oil Company in Augusta. We moved back here and he worked until the season was over. For the past five years he has worked at the University Hospital.
"I don't think there can be any doubt but that the World War caused the depression. When our country became involved with Europe and our boys went to France, prices soared and salaries went up by leaps and bounds. There were so many positions left open by the boys who went 'Over There,' that there actually seemed to be competition between the heads of businesses as to which one would get the first chance to employ a man and they were not stingy with salaries either.
"People became excited and restless, bought extravagantly and
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lived entirely beyond their means. Many borrowed money from the banks to buy luxuries they couldn't afford. When things began to level themselves after the close of the war - a depression was inevitable.
"I think President Roosevelt is a wonderful man." She remarked. "I feel that he has done more to help poor people than any other man could have done.
"To my mind one of the greatest accomplishments of the New Deal has been the organization of the Civilian Conservation Camps. The training given the boys will be of lasting benefit. They have changed many a boy from a liability to a valuable asset to his country. They have kept thousands of boys off the roads just idly roaming over the country - hiking and beating rides on freight trains, etc. Many of them have become good citizens.
"We have worked hard and had our ups and downs, but we are very happy and enjoy our home so much. When any of the children get out of work they know they are always welcome to come home and stay until they are on their feet again. It would be a great pleasure to us to keep our brood? together at all times but of course that is impossible. Boys, particularly, love to get out and run around and see something of the world.
"I recall one time when one of our boys decided to hitch-hike to Raleigh, North Carolina. It was not nearly so exciting as he had expected.
He said he only met one man who treated him kindly and he was a person whom he had known before. He obtained employment at a bakery but worked only one night for when the proprietor demanded his
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straw that broke the camel's back. It was simply disgraceful.
"I have a friend who firmly believed in women's rights and longed for the day when we would have a say-so in our government. The first time she had the opportunity to register she couldn't get there fast enough. The next morning the paper published a list of the would-be woman voters. When her brothers read the paper they were very indignant and for a while made things very uncomfortable for her.
"Today, every woman who is eligible is expected to vote and is considered unpatriotic if she doesn't.
"Now we have women evangelists, lawyers, doctors, nurses, congresswomen and others. Women now practically run the churches and other religious organizations.
"And today we even have ladies flying." She exclaimed, "I wonder what next."