Person Interviewed: Charley Roberts
Location: Dade County, Florida
Charley Roberys of Perrine, Florida, was born on the Hogg plantation near Allendale, S. C.
“Yes, sah, I’ members de vary day when we first heard that we was free. I was mindin’ the little calf, keepin’ it away from the cow while my mother was milkin’.
“We have to milk the cows and carry the milk to the Confederate soldiers quartered near us.
“At that time, I can ‘member of the soldiers comin’ ‘cross the Savannah River. They would go to the plantations and take all the cows, hogs, sheep, or horses they wanted and “stack” their guns and stay around some places and kill some of the stock, or use the milk and eat corn and all the food they wanted as they needed it. They’d take quilts and just anything they needed.
“I don’t know why, but I remember we didn’t have salt given to us, so we went to the smoke house where there were clean boards on the floor where the salt and grease drippings would fall from the smoked hams hanging from the rafters. The boards would be soft and soaked with salt and grease. Well, we took those boards and cooked the salt and fat out of them, cooked the boards right in the bean soup. That way we got salt and the soup was good.
“They used to give us rinds off the hams. I was a big boy before I ever knew there was anything but rinds a pork meat. We went around chewing away at those rinds of hams, and we sure liked them. We thought that was the best meat there was.
“I used to go to the Baptist church in the woods, but I never went to school. I learned to read out of McGuffey’s speller. It was a little book with a blue back. I won’t forget that.
“I try to be as good as I know how. I’ve never given the state any trouble, nor any of my sons have been arrested. I tries to follow the Golden Rule and do right.
“I have seven living children. We moved to Miami when our daughter moved here and took sick. We live at Perrine now, but we want to come to Miami, ’cause I aint able to work, but my wife, she is younger and able to work. We don’t want to go on charity any more’n we have to.”