Slave Narrative of Cora Armstrong

Interviewer: Parnella Anderson, colored
Location: Union County, Arkansas

Ex-Slave And Riddles

“I was born in the Junction city community and belonged to the Cooks. I was ten years old at surrender. Mother and father had 12 children and we lived in a one room log cabin and cooked on a fireplace and oven. Mos and Miss Cook did not allow ma and pa to whip me. When ever I do something and I knew I was going to get a whipping I would make it to old Miss. She would keep me from getting that whipping. I was a devilish boy. I would do everything in the world I could think of just for devilment. Old mos was sure good to his slaves. I never went to school a day in my life. Old Miss would carry me to church sometimes when it was hot so we could fan for her. We used palmeter fan leaves for fans. We ate pretty good in slavery time, but we did not have all of this late stuff. Some of our dishes was possum stew, vegetables, persimmon pie and tato bread. Ma did not allow us to sit around grown folks. When they were talking she always made us get under the bed. Our bed was made from pine poles. We children slept on pallets on the floor. The way slaves married in slavery time they jumped over the broom and when they separated they jumped backward over the broom. Times were better in slavery time to my notion than they are now because they did not go hungry, neither necked. They ate common and wore one kind of clothes.”

A duck, a bullfrog and a skunk went to a circus, the duck and the bullfrog got in, why didn’t the skunk get in?

(Answer). The duck had a bill, the bullfrog had a greenback but the skunk had nothing but a scent.

If your father’s sister is not your aunt what kin is she to you? (your mother).

What is the difference between a four quart measure and a side saddle? (Answer). They both hold a gallon. (a gal on)

—Cora Armstrong, colored.

Armstrong, Cooks,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007-2024. The WPA Slave Narratives must be used with care. There is, of course, the problem of confusion in memory resulting from (73+ years) of the participants. In addition, inexperienced interviewers sometimes pursued question lines related to their own interests and perspectives and attempted to capture the colloquialism of the informant's speech. The interviews provide fascinating insight and surprisingly candid information, however.

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