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Interviewer                                  Mrs* Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed                                    Bob Benford
209 N* Maple Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age  79
” Slavery-^ ime folks? Herefs one of em* Near as I can get at it, Ifse
seventy-nine, I was born in Alabama* My white folks said I come from Perry
County, Alabama, but I come here to this Arkansas country when I was small*
nUy old master was Jim Ad Benford* He was good to us* Ifm goinf to
tell you we was better off then than now* Yes ma’am, they treated us rights
We didn’t have to worry bout payin1 the doctor and had plenty to eat.
“I recollect the shoemaker come and measured my feet and directly he’d
bring me old red russet shoes* I thought they was the prettiest things I
ever saw in my life*
“Old mistress would say, fCome on here, you little niggers1 and shefd
sprinkle sugar on the meat block and wefd just lick sugar*
*I remember the soldiers good, had on blue suits with brass buttons*
“I’se big enough to ride old master’s hoss to water* Hefd say, fNow,
Bob, donft you run that hoss1 but when I got out of sight, I was bound to
run that hoss a little*
“I didn’t have to work, just stayed in the house with my mammy* She
was a seamstress* I’m tellin’ you the truth now* I can tell it at night as
well as daytime*
••We lived in Union County* Old master had a lot of hands* Old
mistress1 name was Miss Sallie Benford* She just as good as she could
be* She’d come out to the quarters to see how we was gettin’ along*
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I’d be so glad when Christmas came* Wefd have hog killin’ and Ifd get the
bladders and blow em up to make noise — you know* Yes, lady, wef d have a
time*                                                                                                                                                               ^
“I recollect when Marse Jim broke up and went to Texas* Stayed there     h&
i’
bout a year and come back*
“IShen the war was over I recollect they said we was free but I didn’t
know what that meant * I was always free*
“After freedom mammy stayed there on the place and worked on the shares*
I don’t know nothin1 bout my father* They said he was a white man*
“I remember I was out in the field with mammy and had a old mule* I
punched him with a stick and he come back with them hoofs and kicked me
right in the jaw — knocked me dead* lord, lady, I had to eat mush till I
donft like mush today. That was old Moss ~ he was a saddle mule*
“Me? I ainft been to school a day in my life* If I had a chance to go
I didn’t know it* I had to help mammy work* I recollect one time when she
was sick I got into a fight and she cried and said, fThat’s the way you does
my child’ and I know she died next week*
“After that I worked here and there* . I remember the first man I worked
for was Kinch McKinney of El Dorado*
“I remember when I was just learnin’ to plow, old mule knew five hundred
times more than I did* He was graduated and he learnt me*

http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mesn/021/021.1.txt

 

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