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Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Georgia Narratives, Part 4

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PLANTATION LIFE AS VIEWED BY AN EX-SLAVEGEORGIA TELFAIR, Age 74Box 131, R.F.D. #2Athens, Ga.Written by:Miss Grace McCuneAthens, Ga.Edited by:Mrs. Sarah H. HallAthens, Ga.andMrs. Leila HarrisAugusta, Ga.[Date Stamp: APR 29 1938]

"Yes chile, I'll be glad to tell you de story of my life, I can't tell you much 'bout slav'ry 'cause I wuz jus' six months old when freedom come, but I has heared quite a lot, and I will tell you all I kin 'member 'bout everythin." Said old "Aunt" Georgia Telfair, who lives with her son to whom her devotion is quite evident. Both "Aunt" Georgia and the little home show the excellent care that is given them.

"My pa," she said, "wuz Pleasant Jones, an' he b'longed to Marse Young L.G. Harris. Dey lived at de Harris place out on Dearing Street. Hit wuz all woods out dar den, an' not a bit lak Dearing Street looks now.

"Rachel wuz my ma's name. Us don' know what her las' name wuz 'cause she wuz sold off when she wuz too little to 'member. Dr. Riddin' (Redding) bought her an' his fambly always jus' called her Rachel Riddin'. De Riddin' place wuz whar Hancock Avenue is now, but it wuz all in woods 'roun' dar, jus' lak de place whar my pa wuz. Atter dey wuz married ma had to stay on wid de Riddin' fambly an' her chilluns b'longed to de Riddin's 'cause dey owned her. Miss Maxey Riddin' wuz my brudder's young Missus, an' I wuz give to her sister, Miss Lula Riddin', for to be her own maid, but us didn't git to wuk for 'em none 'cause it wuz jus' at dis time all de slaves got sot free. Atter dat my pa tuk us all wid him an' went to farm on de old Widderspoon (Witherspoon) place.

"It wuz 'way off in de woods. Pa cut down trees an' built us a log cabin. He made de chimbly out of sticks an' red mud, an' put iron bars crost de fireplace to hang pots on for to bile our vittuls an' made ovens for de bakin'. De bes' way to cook 'tatoes wuz to roas' 'em in de ashes wid de jackets on. Dey ain' nothin' better tastin' dan ash-roasted 'tatoes wid good home-made butter to eat wid 'em. An 'us had de butter, 'cause us kep' two good cows. Ma had her chickens an' tukkeys an' us raised plenty of hogs, so we nebber wuz widout meat. Our reg'lar Sunday breakfas' wuz fish what pa cotch out of de crick. I used to git tired out of fish den, but a mess of fresh crick fish would sho' be jus' right now.

"Us always kep' a good gyardan full of beans, corn, onions, peas an' 'taters, an' dey warn't nobody could beat us at raisin' lots of greens, 'specially turnips an' colla'd greens. Us saved heaps of dry peas an' beans, an' dried lots of peaches an' apples to cook in winter. When de wind wuz a howlin an' de groun' all kivvered wid snow, ma would make dried fruit puffs for us, dat sho' did hit de spot.

"When I wuz 'bout eight years old, dey sont me to school. I had to walk from Epps Bridge Road to Knox School. Dey calls it Knox Institute now. I toted my blue back speller in one han' and my dinner bucket in de other. Us wore homespun dresses wid bonnets to match. De bonnets wuz all made in one piece an' had drawstrings on de back to make 'em fit, an' slats in de brims to make 'em stiff an' straight. Our dresses wuz made long to keep our legs warm. I don't see, for to save me, how dey keeps dese young-uns from freezin' now since dey let 'em go 'roun' mos' naked....