Slave Narrative of Bob Young

Interviewer: Caldwell Sims
Person Interviewed: Bob Young
Date of Interview: November 10, 1937
Location: Jonesville, South Carolina
Date of Birth: March 15, 1862
Age: 75?

“March 15, 1862 is de date I allus takes when folks axes how old is you. Dat’s de best, to follow one date, den no argument don’t follow.

“Some see’d it powerful hard in slavery, others never see’d it so bad. Dat ‘pends on you a lot, den it ‘pends on dem dat you stays wid. It still like dat everywhar dat I is been, but I ain’t been no further dan Spartanburg gwine north, and to Lyles’s Ford gwine south.

“From a wee bitty baby dey teach me to serve. Befo’ you serves God you is got to know how to serve man. De Bible speaks of us as servants of de Lawd. Niggers can serve him better dan white folks, kaise dat is all dey does if dey stays whar dey belongs. Young folks and chillun being raised up real biggity like dey is now, dey can’t serve nothing, kaise if you can’t serve your earthly father, how is you gwine to serve your Heavenly Father?

“De big plantation and house whar Mr. Jimmie Jeter’s sons stay is whar I first see’d earthly light. Dat place still look fine, and it look fine den, too. When I was 8 years old I started out in de field, afo’ dat I did jes’ what all little nigger boys did, nothing but eat and sleep and play and have a big time wid de little white boys. Lots of my playmates, both white and black, done gone on now. Some done gone to de bad place and some done gone to Heaven, jes’ ain’t no use talking, dat’s sho nuff de truth.

“War was raging all ’round Charleston and Columbia when I come in dis world so dey says, Yankees camped in half mile of Santuc. I is heard dat everybody was scared. Has even heard dat I cried when dem Yankees come, but all I knows is jes’ what I heard. Folks hears lots and dey tells it, and dat’s jes’ what I is doing now—jes’ telling what dey told me when I got big. If folks didn’t never tell nothing no worse, it wouldn’t make no difference, but often dey takes devilish notions and tells dat what injures, if anybody believes dem.

“Aunt Phyllis Jeter ‘low when dem Yankees got to Santuc, she was a weaving jes’ as hard as she could for her white folks. She say dat she started to run, but dem Yankees come in de house and throw’d away her yarn and took her and tied her to a tree. When she hollered, dey whipped her. She say dat dey was drunk, but dey never burn’t up nothing in de house. Dey went on singing, and she got me to playing and got up de yarn from de dirt in de yard and cleaned it. De Yankees never bothered us no mo’, and dey never stayed in Santuc long.

“Once when I was a big boy I got drunk and pa whipped me so hard I never got drunk no mo’ till I was married, and den I jumped on my old lady for fun and she hit me wid a bed slat. Dat knocked me sober and I ‘cided de best thing for me to do was let liquor go to de devil. When I was young I allus walked to Union. Dat ain’t but ten miles down de railroad. Den I used to walk all over Santuc and down to Herbert in Fish Dam. Now I is drapped most all my walking. De chilluns travels fast in automobiles, but I jes’ as lieve walk to Union as to ride in dem things. Wrecks kills you off so quick dat you does not have time to repent.

“Walking never has hurt nobody, and I buys leather and tacks it on my own shoes, and in dat way it don’t cost me nothing much. Folks goes so fast in dem automobiles, and half de time dey ain’t in no hurry kaise dey ain’t gwine to nothing no way. I gits on my shoe in de winter and I walks. When I wants to drap in for a chaw at some friend’s house, I does. I sets dar till I gits rested and warm and I goes on. If dey eats, I does too, and when I gits to Union my chillun is done out and gone. Jes’ de same, I reaches home at night befo’ dem.

“Dey has tales to tell about gitting out of gas, and when I axes whar dey been, dey jes’ as apt to say Spartanburg as any whars. As long as dey has a quarter dey is allus gwine to ride and come home broke. If you fools wid automobiles, you is gwine to spend lots of time in jail. I ain’t never been in jail and I thinks it is a disgrace. My chillun says dat I is ‘old timey’ and don’t know nothing ’bout living. Jes’ de same, I likes slow moving, and takes mine out in walking and gits home at dark or soon atter.

“Dese fast ways don’t bother me. Dey makes sassy chilluns. Sassy chilluns dat can’t serve deir pa need not think dat dey can ride to de Promise Land in narry automobile dat dey is ever seed. Gwine round in fast circles and never gitting nowhars seems to satisfy dem, so I don’t know what is gwine to become of dem.”

Jeter, Young,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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