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Davis, Louisa

"Well, well, well! You knows my white folks on Jackson Creek, up in Fairfield! I's mighty glad of dat, and glad to see you. My white folks comes to see me pretty often, though they lives way up dere. You wants to write me up? Well, I'll tell you all I recollect, and what I don't tell you, my daughter and de white folks can put in do other 'gradients. Take dis armchair and git dat smokin' ash tray; lay it on de window sill by you and make yourself confortable and go ahead."

"I was born in de Catawba River section. My grandpappy was a full blood Indian; my pappy a half Indian; my mother, coal black woman. Just who I b'long to whom a baby? I'll leave dat for de white folks to tell, but old Marster Jim Lemon buy us all; pappy, mammy, and three chillun: Jake, Sophie, and me. De white folks I fust b'long to refuse to sell 'less Marse Jim buy de whole family; dat was clever, wasn't it? Dis old Louisa must of come from good stock, all de way 'long from de beginnin', and I is sho' proud of dat."

"When he buy us, Marse Jim take us to his place on Little River nigh clean cross de county. In de course of time us fell to Marse Jim's son, John, and his wife, Miss Mary. I was a grown woman then and nursed their fast baby, Marse Robert. I see dat baby grow to be a man and 'lected to legislature, and stand up in dat Capitol over yonder cross de river and tell then de Law and how they should act, I did. They say I was a pretty gal, then, face shiny lab a ginger cake, and hair straight and black as a crow, and I ain't so bad to look at now, Marse Willie says."

"My pappy rise to be foreman on de place and was much trusted, but he plowed and worked just de same, mammy say maybe harder."

"Then one springtime de flowers git be blooming, de hens to cackling, and de guineas to patarocking. Sam come along when I was out in de yard wid de baby. He fust talk to de baby, and I asked him if de baby wasn't pretty. He say, 'Yes, but not as pretty as you is, Louisa.' I looks at Sam, and dat kind of foolishness wind up in a weddin'. De white folks allowed us to be married on de back piazza, and Reverend Boggs performed de ceremony."

"My husband was a slave of de Sloans and didn't got to see me often as he wanted to; and of course, as do housemaid then, dere was times I couldn't meet him, clandestine like he want me. Us had some grief over dat, but he got a pass twice a week from his marster, Marse Tommie Sloan, to come to see me. Bold as Sam git to be, in after years ridin' wid a red shirt long side of General Bratton in '76, dat nigger was timid as a rabbit wid me when us fust git married. Shacks, let's talk 'bout somthing else. Sam was a field hand and drive de wagon way to Charleston once a year wid cotton, and always bring back something pretty for me."

"When de war come on, Sam went wid young Marster Tom Sloan as bodyguard, and attended to him, and learned to steal chickens, geese, and turkeys for his young marster, just to toll 'bout it. He dead now; and what I blames de white folks for, they never would give him a pension, though he spend so much of his time and labor in their service. I ain't bearin' down on my kind of white folks, for I'd jump wid joy if I could just git back into slavery and have de same white folks to serve and be wid them, day in and day out."

"Once a week I see de farm hands git rations at de smoke house, but dat didn't concern me. I was a housemaid and my mammy run de kitchen, and us got de same meals as my marster's folks did."

"Yes sir; I got 'possum. Know how to cook him now. Put him in a pot and parboil him, then put him in a oven wid lots of lard or fatback, and then bake him wid yaller yam potatoes, flanked round and round, and then wash him down wid locust and peraimnon boor followed by a piece of pumpkin pie. Dat make de bestest meal I 'members in slavery days."

"Us got fish out of Little River nigh every Saturday, and they went good Sunday morning. Us had Saturday evenin's, dat is, de farm hands did, and then I got to go to see Sam some Sundays. His folks, de Sloans, give us a weddin' dinnor on Sunday after us was married, and they sho' did tease Sam dat day."

"Like all rich buckra, de Lemons had hogs a plenty, big flock of shoop, cotton gin, slaves to card, slaves to spin, and slaves to weave. Us was well clothed and fed and 'tended to when sick. They was concerned 'bout our soul's salvation. Us went to church, learn de catechism; they was Presbyterians, and read de Bible to us. But I went wid Sam after freedom. He took de name of Davis, and I jinod de Methodist Church and was baptized Louisa Davis."

"Patroller, you ask me? 'Spect I do member them. Wasn't I a goodlookin' woman? Didn't Sam want to see me more than twice a week! Wouldn't he risk it widout de pass some time? Sure he did. De patrollers got after and run Sam many a time."

"After de war my pappy went to Florida. He look just like a Indian, hair and all, bushy head, straight and young lookin' wid no beard. We never heard from him since."

"De slaves wash de family clothes on Saturday and then rested after doin' dat. Us had a good time Christmas; every slave ketch white folks wid a holler, 'Christmas gift, Marster' and they holler it to each other. Us all hung our stockin's all 'bout de Big House, and then dere would be sumpin' in dere next mornin'. Lord, wasn't them good times!"

"Now how is it dese days? Young triflin' nigger boys and gals lyin' 'round puffin' cigarets, carryin' whiskey 'round wid them, and gittin' in jail on Christmas, grievin' de Lord and their pappies, and all sich things. OH! De risin' generation and de future! What is it comin' to? I just don't know, but dere is comin' a time to all them."

"I sho' like to dance when I was younger. De fiddlers was Henry Copley and Buck Manigault; and if anybody 'round here could make a fiddle ring like Buck could, wouldn't surprise me none if my heart wouldn't cry out to my legs, 'Fust lady to de right and cheat or swing as you like, and on to de right'."

"Stop dat laughin'. De Indian blood in me have hold me up over a hundred years, and de music might make me young again."

"Oh yes, us had ghost stories, make your hair stand on end, and us put iron in de fire when us hear screech owl, and put dream book under bed to keep off bad dreams."

"When de yankees come they took off all they couldn't cat or burn, but don't let's talk 'bout dat. Maybe if our folks had beat them and git up into dere country our folks would of done just like they did. Who knows?"

"You see dis new house, de flower pots, de dog out yonder, de cat in de sun lyin' in de chair on de poroh, de seven tubs under de shed, de two big wash pots, you see de pictures hangin' round de wall, de nice beds, all dese things is de blessin's of de Lord through President Roosevelt. My grandson, Pinckney, is a World War man, and he got in de CCC Camp, still in it in North Carolina. When he got his bonus, he come down, and say, 'Grandma, you too old to walk, supposin' I git you a automobile?'

I allow, 'Son, de Indian blood rather make me want a house.' Then us laughs 'Well,' he say, 'Dis money I has and am continuin' to make, I wants you and mama to enjoy it.' Then he laugh fit to kill heself. Then I say, 'I been dreamin' of a tepee all our own, all my lifetime; buy us a lot over in Sugartown in New Brookland, and make a home of happiness for your ma, me and you'."

"And dis is de tepee you settin' in today. I feel like he's a young warrior, loyal and brave, off in de forests workin' for his chief, Mr. Roosevelt, and dat his dreams are 'bout me maybe some night wid de winds blowin' over dat three C camp where he is."

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