Title: Interview with Ella Rolin (August 11, 1974)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007527/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Ella Rolin (August 11, 1974)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 11, 1974
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007527
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Creek County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CRK 53

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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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Mrs. Ella Rolin (R)
Atmore, Alabama

Interviewer: Paredes (I)
August 11, 1973

Typed by: P. F. Williams

I: ...eleventh, 1973, and I'm interviewing Ella Rolin.

Why don't you just start talking about your life from

the beginning--where you were born and where you went

from.there, and so forth?

R: Well, I don't know if it's too interesting or anything

of that sort, but maybe it will help somebody along.

Well, I was born here, really, but I couldn't tell you--

as I told you a while ago--I couldn't tell you-what

county. But I guess you could call it here in Escambia


I: You grew up here /h /! .; '

R: No, I didn't really grow up here. I grew up in Mobile,

Alabama. Then I married my husband in Mobile and we left

there after my mother's departure to go home.

I: She came back here, your mother did?

R: No, my mother passed away.

I: Passed away?

CRK 53A 2

R: Um-hrm, here she did, yes.

I: Um-hmm.

R: Then I married afterwards. And then my husband and I,

we went to Houston, Texas, to live. That was in 1944.

And so I'd lived in Texas, Houston, Texas, all those

many years. And, uh...

I: Were you working, or what kind of business was your

husband in?

R: No, myAhusband was the engineer, chief engineer. He

was a merchant seaman and a chief engineer. And so

I would go with my husband. If he would go to California,

somewhere like that, I always traveled where he was at

or near his place and portAwhat have you. In fact, I've

traveled around quite a bit, all the way around the

United States just about it. And some of the inland

countries. And I had a wonderful time, you know, in

traveling. I had quite an experience of it.

I: How old were you when you left //// ____ ? Were you

quite a young woman at that time?

R: I was twenty-six years old. Now I'm fifty-three.

I: Well, in your years in Mobile, did you go to school in

Mobile public schools?

CRK 53A 3

R: Yes, I did. I went to the school there, Yerby School

there in Mobile.

I: Um-hmm.

R: It's next to the high school there, next to Barton


I: Is there a church school, or...?

R: No, it's just a regular public school. I went to Yerby

School there and Barton Academy.

I: I'm sure you won't mind me saying so, but your physical

type is very Indian.

R: Very much so!

I: And I was wondering if as a youngster in school in

Mobile you had any problems because of your racial


R: No. No, uh-uh.

I: No.

R: No, no. I really didn't. No, my teachers and all

the children, we all got along just fine, just wonderful.

And they do say,that, you know, in/some places that they

would have a little problem with, you know, with children

like that. But never me.

I: When you were a youngster, did other children...

CRK 53A 4

R: Play with me? Ask me about my nationality?

I: Uh-huh.

R: Oh, yes.

I: What would you say?

R: They used to play "Indian," you know./ You know, they

used to see these things on the movies, you know, -aheat bA-

then they had the talking movies. And they'd see the

cowboys and Indians out there, you know. They'd say,

"Ella's an Indian." A I.,el27jASJ

I: How.did you feel about that, as a Pi AI/ Cifj?

R: I felt very proud of it.

I: Did you?

R: I sure did.

I: Were you aware at 'all of the kind of problems the Indian

people back here were having about school and things at

those times?

R: Yes, I was aware of it. Very much. And I thought it was --

an awful trying time for people like that.

I: How did you know about it? Did your mother talk about it

a lot, or what?

R: Well, Clara, when they lived here...my mother never lived

here very much. r CL, Ujj & da1/ CMW ,I A'CC I/JCr.t

separated you know. And my mother moved away from here.

CRK 53A 5

And so I went to school about one year I believe it

was. T-7 4. when my mother was living I

went to school, called kindergarten, same as today.

To a little red schoolhouse over here on top of the

hill, and I think the first teacher that had it was

Mrs. Georgie, I'm not sure. And the other teacher's

name was Mrs. Weaver, I think, back then. And that's

about the only times I'd ever gone to school over

there. But the rest of the time I went to Mobile,

and my mother and my dad had separated, you know,

and went to Mobile. And I went to steady school over

there. I didn't finish high school, really. I finished

my schooling over thereas much as my mother could afford.

Back then, you'd have to pay your way. And I went as

far as I could...

I: You mean your transportation and books and things?

R: Yes, your books. Yes, you know, and all your books

and things.

I: The state didn't provide books then

R: No, the state didn't provide anything back in those days.
cdIa yp", jtf, ;
I: Did your/brother Eugene,seay along with you in Mobile?
S Nohe was here with my dad. My dad ket him. He
R: No Ahe was here with my dad. My dad kept him. He

CRK 53A 6

stayed with him most of the time, and he didn't never

finish too much schooling.

I: As a youngster in Mobile, did you come back rl._

4c-4, for visits?
R: Yes, I/visited. Yes, I did. Yeah.

I: .Wettr you think back to growing up in a city like that,

what your reaction was as a child to come back up here?

How did you feel about it when you came back?

R: Well, I, uh...we'd come and maybe spend two or three

days, a week or something like that with my dad or

with my Aunt Bessie. She was livingthen, you know.

And I'd maybe stay two or three days and my mother

would come get me, you know, like that. But eventually

as I grew older, then my mother wouldn't bother about

bringing me back up here, you know. And my dad got

married to Clara eight years later. He and Clara got

married and I just never come back up here any more.

I: Did the absence of all the modern conveniences that you

were used to in the city bother you at all when you came

up here as a child?

R: Well, really, I didn't notice it.

I: You didn't notice it.

CRK 53A 7

R: No, I really didn't. The only/thing that I noticed

was the bathroom.

I: You noticed that. rf-L I, j

R: Yeah. That's what a child's like, you know, I guess.
And I didn't like the outside bathrooms back then, you

know, and so that was one reason why I didn't never come

back up here too much because they didn't have modern

bathrooms then, you know, like they do today. And I

just didn't care to stay up here then.

I: It didn't bother you to have kerosene lamps and things

like that?

R: Well, you know, kids never...me, I enjoyed it.

I: You did.

R: Because I used to play with the lamp, I guess. You

know, screw the thing up and down, you know, and look

at it flicker on and off, you know, and what have you.

But then years later, my mother come back here. When

I become a grown girl, my mother moved, come back here,

had the house rebuilt over again over here.

I: Her same house that you had been in as a little tiny


R: Yes, she had it rebuilt over again. Then she moved there

CRK 53A 8

and that's where my mother died, over there. And I

lived in Mobile at that time. My husband and I, so we

lived there -when I was about nineteen years old, my

first husband. Ic-I married when I was about...

I: What was his name?

R: His name was Robert Charlton. And he died not too

many years after. And then I married my other husband.
\^50- yeo^iAf T ; v)id & IiA^ x.'7 R:'
He died in 1959 it was, late '59. And His name was

Merton (Wilkyle) And he's the one I got all the

California accent from, I guess, because he lived out


I: He was the merchant seaman?

R: Um-hmm [affirmative]. And he lived out there all for

these many years out there, 4n *

I: And then after he died you must have stayed away for

quite a while before you came...
R: I did. L lived in Texas. I lived there by myself all

these many years.

I: Before I get too far ahead of the game, what church did

you go to in Mobile as a child? Did you go to church?

R: Presbyterian.

I: Presbyterian.

CRK 53A 9

R: Um-hmm, sure did. I was Presbyterian then. I wasn't Y-
I f a, f7
ls50I christened or anything Presbyterian, bu all my folks
attended Presbyterian church. And I married the first

time in a Presbyterian church. So I attended a PresJxr'-

I: When you~come up here on visits, did you ever go to

any of the churches here?

R: There wasn't very many here then. Only this one up


I: The Episcopal church?

R: Um, Episcopal church. Back then, I thought it was

Presbyterian but it's called the Episcopal. And

now it's the Episcopalian, isn't it?

I: Um-hmm.

R: /o I mean it was...I thought bac then it was Presbyterian,

but maybe it was still, still qS__ I don't know.

I: .-Bo you ever as a child:ever go to any holiness services?

R: Yes, I did.

I: Going to a Presbyterian church, how did you feel about

the Holiness services when you were a little child?

R: Well, my other never commented very much on churches

because my mother was very much a Christian woman herself
adsen e n seai
and she never said anything about any churches at all.

And I was .j r t P in the church, you know, at Suwannee

CRK 53A 10

and what have youth,
I: Well, what I was getting at is the style of worship in

a Holiness church is considerably/from a Presbyterian

+ .' .
R: It is. Since I've grown up, really, it is. It's much

different because I worship the Lord different from the
) A A
Presbyterian church over there, the Episcopal church

that they have over here because they read from the

books and what have you and I pray from my heart.

And I think it's more better, -f you pray from the

heart you're more sincere. Sincere about things.

I: I'll set this in my lap so I can keep my eye on it.

OK. So you got...your first husband died before you

left Mobile. Is that correct?
V, 1!dJ. wAS/ Il W, 3, te
R: Yes.A He was in the Navy and he got killed, I think,

overseas during the war. He got his legs shot off

during the war.A/We were separated then. I was much

younger and he was married and had a wife and two children

and had married me, really. And I didn't know anything

about his marriage, but he was much older than I was.

And so he had went back to his wife and his family back

CRK 53A 11

then and,so I think he got both of his legs shot off

during the war, I think.

I: And heAmarried you in the church even though he had

another wife someplace else? '-C iC

R: Yes. Sure did. I didn't know anything about itla

PKeither did my mother, you know, I mean...

I: I guess the minister didn't check very far when he did


R: No. Really, because I had been going with him for some

time, you know.

I: Uh-huh.

R: And I didn't really know too much about him or anything

like that, you know. Neither did my mother! So the

only thing he did, he just asked my mother for me, you

know. And so my mother said it was all right, you know.

She didn't check back and back, and back then people

trusted one another, you know. But if people were more

skeptical in those days like they are nowit would be

much different.

I: Was it just you and your mother there, those years in


R: Yes.

I: That is to say...

CRK 53A 12

R: No, I had two brothers, and of course, my:brother Buster

used to come down there a lot, the one that goes down


I: Uh-huh.

R- He used to come down there quite a bit, you know, and

stay. And he went in the-CCC camps when he was around

fifteen years old. And when he come out of thee.I said
AIo I j ,4,
around fifteen., I take it back. He was around thirteen

years old, and when he come out...he spent two years

in there. When he come out he went in the Army.

He told the booger board, he said he was, uh...he went

and told the.I,...

I: Recruiter?

R: Yes, that he was eighteen years old, you know, but really

he wasn't but aboutAsixteen. You had to be around eighteen

then to get in the service, you know.

I: Uh-huh.

R:'"d ,4ut they took him in, and he spent...I don't know, he

spent during the war days in the Army.

I: But you did have two other brothers that were living with

you, you say?

R: Yeah, stayed with my mother in Mobile when we were smalli-

children, yeah.

CRK 53A 13

I: How did she make a living down there?

R: My mother ran a store.

I: Uh-huh.

R: And she also/ was a nurse, yeah. And she nursed at the

hospital there, Marine Hospital. My mother was a

dietitian at the Marine Hospital.

I: How did she learn her trade, go to school?

R: Through the Red Cross. They sent my mother to school.

I: When did you yourself start nursing?
R: Well, I really...I took my training in the hospital.

That was about, I guess around twenty years ago, two...

a little bit, I mean it's around...

I: Was thatout in Texas?

R: Um-hmm, yes. In Texas.

I: How long was the training for?

R: Well, I mean, I wouldn't...it was sometime maybe a couple

of weeks o& somewhere like that or so or something, and

what have you until I really learned to do, toAreally

know medical, part of medical an how to use different

things, you know.Ahen I took the rest of it on my own.

I: As a nurse, you say you're self-employed S r 4A

Qe. fc M Atmore.

R: Um-hmm [affirmative].

CRK 53A 14

I: How do people find out about you to hire you?

R: Through their doctorsA like Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Richardson

and Dr., well, those are the only two doctors. And
through the personnel office here in Atmore.7 When I

first come here, I went to the employment office and, A/ 7 -

I had them to register me there, you know, in case if
I, ku. anyone wanted a nurse at home, you know, a

practical nurse in the home, well, they could call and,/Ae

have me to get in touch with them, you know.

I: Have you ever done any other kind of work in your life

besides being a nurse?

R: Oh, yeah.

I: What other things have you done? E rZKj

R: I've worked in a paper mill for a long time. I tried

that for about a year in Mobile one time, you know, and

I really liked it.

I: You did?

R: j-.Sure did.

I: What kind of work were you doing in that?

R: It was, uh...you know, you were making paper bags. And

I really enjoyed it. And you'd work three shifts, you
/ do
know, like they do now, andAl just really enjoyed it,

CRK 53A 15

being with all the girls up there and what have you, 43

and just really enjoyed it.

I: What else have you done besides working in a paper mill

and nursing?

R: That's about the only par4 I've ever done.

I: Let's go back to your earlier life for a moment. A

while ago you were sort of reminiscing about when you

were a little tiny girl living across the creek. Talk

about that again. What are some of your earliest memories

as a child growing up over there?

R: Well, I can remember when my mother, as I told you a while

ago about this spring my mother used to have, and back

then my mother didn't have any refrigerator. And she used

to keep her milk and stuff like that in the spring in

the jar, and keep it buried down in sand in the water,

you know, haveAthe top of it up and then the jar down

into the water. And, uh, well, I tell you, I just enjoyed

myself so much when I was a little girl coming up over

there. I just really...

I: Did your parents have quite a nice house?

R: Oh, yes. My mother had a lovely home. She sure did,

had a lovely home. And of course, as far as modern things,

we didn't have modern things. We didn't have any lights.

CRK 53A 16

We didn't have...you know, we only had lamps back then.

And the old wood stove my mother had old-fashioned wood

stove. And of course, my mother was modern. My mother

had the most modern wood stoveland my mother's had a

warmer, big nice warmer on the top, and jt ad on the

side "had a reservoir, they called it. And so my

mother had all of her hot water right...and she didn't

have exactly a kettle, you know, to sit on the stove
t A
back then like they do have or they did have then..Jhe

had this old...

I: Was that one of the finest stoves in the community?

R: Yes / es, it sure was. Everybody else had the little

kind, you know, but my mother, it was a real...oh, it

was real nice big stove. Beautiful thing. And she used

to have frJJnL I.. when I was a little girl.
& A ",e oA,
And a lot of other people would come and my mother would

bake a great big oL4 cake and she'd have cake and coffee
A -Hie, etiJ
and stuff like that for the wood-sawing andwhat have

you, and, oh, we...

I: What is a wood-sawing?

R: That's where they chop down the trees, saw the pine trees

down, you know, and block it up, you know. And then

she'd have a wood-chopping, split the wood, all'things'

CRK 53A! 17

-. like that, then she'd go like this here, you know,

make it smaller for the wood, for the stove,,you know.

So it would fit irPto the stove.

I: What, she would invite a bunch of people to come?

R: Oh, yes, uh-huh. She p'tifhe invitation out, you know.

It would go all the way around, you know, to all the
44) P ((,
settlements, to all the people. And she'd say/what

night she was going to give it, you know, and oh,

everybody would be there. And my mother would cook

cakes and what have you, and everybody would bring

maybe a cake or something and we'd just have a big

feast. And sometimes it would last maybe till mid-

night almost.

I: Would they dance afterwards?

R: No, just have a great big old fire and just sit around

the fire and everybody would talk and sing and what

have you. It was really, I don't know,Asomething LtiaVt ,i

just '/R'- -i'-^ when I was growing


I: What time of day would a wood-sawing start usually?.
; -V vvJ-c1
R: It would be in the afternoon, late in the, you know, oh,

around seven o'clock, I guess, around six or seven o'clock,

CRK 53A 18

somewhere like that, and it would last sometimes still

eleven o'clock, ten or eleven o'clock, like that. People
'M OfI'r-
used to come in theiyrwagons. The younger boys and girls

would come in their wagons, you know, in hay and what have

you. Oh, we just had a wonderful time.

I: What would the little children do during all these activities

and festivities?

R: Wellj it was...I guess/they would bring them along but

we'd be playing somewhere, you know, around about and

be sitting with the/rest of the grown-up people, you know,

while they were sawing the wood and chopping the wood and

what have you. The younger boys, the older men and what

have you, my dad back...well, my mother was young, 'tob,

back,then, you know.

I: Um-hmm.

R: It was r' in mother's age, and then my dad

age back in those days, you know. And they'd all be

sitting around the fire and what have you. They'd get

blocks, old...I remember they used to get the...when

they'd cut the tree down, you know, and they'd get tired

and my mother would serveAthe cake and coffee and what

have you and everybody'd sit around on one of the old

blocks around the fire, and...

CRK 53A 19

I: Wood blocks.

R: Yes, and sit down on it and eat/cake and coffee and


I: Are you talking about a fire in the fireplace or...?

R: No, outside. Outside.

I: Outside, uh-huh.

R: It would really be in the summertime, you know, when

all this would happen.

I: Would there be any particular day of the week that she

would do this?
R: No,it wouldn't be any par-. .anytime. When my mother'd

get low down on the wood.

I: Um-hmm.

R: And then, too, maybe around in the...maybe around in the

autumn, aroundvthe near-winter time, she would think,

have another wood-sawing and wood-chopping back then.
v)ood, 41,-i
I: Now, the trees they cut down, would those be right around

her place, or did they have to go off in the woods + er

-theiB? a wc/A^ ?

R: They'd be close around, around my mother's place over

there. Big pine trees, you know, and they would saw

them down and chop them all up, you know, and block them

up and some would stack them up, you know. I t was just,

CRK 53A 20

I don't know, as best as I could remember.

I: Was this something that everybody had ever once ih-a

while, a wood-chopping?

R: Yes, something. .yeah, they'd all have them sometimes.

Yes. Everybody would have them.

I: Now, you were talking about sitting around until almost

midnight. Would that all be outside?

R: Yeah, outside. Yes, outside. Nobody hardly ever did

come inside the house. Of course, I mean4 the house

would be open or anything like that, but somehow...I
don't know. You know, back in September and October,

round in those days, people used to...my mother used

to rake up the leaves and burn the weeds and the trash

up everything back in then, you know. And then back

that way, too she would have this wood-sawing and

what have you, and then all the stuff, limbs and stuff,

what they had, they'd burn it up, you know/ lut it

on the fire and burn it up. And this wouldn't be at

any certain time or any certain day or anything like


I: The wood would be stacked outside, or did she have a

room in the house.near the kitchen?

R: It'd be stacked outside.

CRK 53A 21

I: Uh-huh. Would she cook her coffee outside, or would

she do all the...?

R: She'd cook sbmetime=the-coffee outside, yes. She sure

would. And sometime we'd have a...my mother used to

have a syrup can. 7Back then, you know, they had syrup

cans about this high. And she used to, my dad would,

he'd put the coal--from the wood, you know? Put the

syrup can on the fire, on.the coals, and then put the

water in there. Then put the coffee, let the water get

hot and then put the coffee down in there. And, oh!

People then said, "Oh, that coffee sure was good." And

I imagine it was, because I didn't ever drink any then
myself, you know. But I do know it's good, you know,

when you cook itot some place like that. Especially

when you're on a creek somewhere.

I: Yeah.

R: Everything tastes good 6 r .
AI ;+A ,/
I: Do you remember what he would do ifhe would do anything

special when he cooked it like that to make the grounds

go to the bottom after it had boiled?

R: He4would put a little bit of cold water once it was

boiling good, you know? And then he would put maybe

about a...well, just allittle bit of cold water, he'd

CRK 53A 22

throw it in the pot and have it to simmer down. Then

he would set it off. After it had kind of simmered

down, he'd set it off and then all the grounds would

go to the bottom, see.

I: Yeah. I'm sure this was in the days before paper plates

and paper cups...

R: Oh...

I: Did your mother have enough dishes?
Po t -*- e tie-r
R: People never imagined what those things were.

I: Yes.

R: Wtkf ack then, I mean they would have, uh...they would

have...you know, my mother had' had cups,.you know, back

then in cups...

I: dishes.

R: Like the tin cups and what have you, back then, you know.
) hacd
Yes, my mother ha da lot of dishes.

I: Can you...I know it's been a long timeA ean you estimate

about how many people on the average would come to one of


R: Oh, I don't know. I really couldn't. But I know there'd

be a lot of them. You see, my two older brothers wasn't

married then. And they 'd have all the other boys around,

all these boys here, you know. Like Willis McGee. You

CRK 53A 23

know Willis?

I: Um-hmm [affirmative].

R: Ham andClara's brothers, and, oh, back in .back then,

you know, people are there coming along, you know.

I: Um-hmm.

R: Young boys and girls back then. Like my mother's age

and my dad's age, like, uh...oh, uh...well, I don't

know) Just girls and boys and what have you back when

my mother's age of people and my brothers'--their age

of people, you know, --tt/r-
things like that.

I: Yes.

R: Then the younger boys, they would want to do this

cutting wood and sawing of the wood and blocking it all

up and carrying it, you know. And we was...t e younger

kids, us kids would just look on, you know, because we
didn't know too much about it, you know, and didn't
lift anything. didn't.

I: 7 fou remember back at that-time when your mother had that

rather grand-sounding wood stove, if there were any people

in the settlement who were still cooking in the fireplace

at that time?

R: Yes. Her name was...um, back then her name was'Low,)I

think. Aunt Low. We called her Aunt,Low.) And she lived cA

CRK 53A 24

way back over...miles. I'd say miles north. It was

about two miles,tIlguess, back over from where my

mother lived. You cross another branch going way back

over that way. My mother lived on the hill. We-used

to...used to be a trail, used to go way over there. And
) hi's
that's where my cousin Quickman lived, and hismother

and my Uncle Mike and my Aunt Reenie and all of them
T'ol ,
lived over there. And there was Cleve Rortirrg and

his wife, Rheta they called her. And then Aunt Low,

the one I was telling you about. She was the one that

cooked on the fireplace. And she used to turn out the

most beautifulest and the most delicious-tasting pan-

cakes I've ever eaten. I'd call them pancakes. They/4key

were called really hoecakes back in those days. They

were about that thick, I guess. And oh! I'm telling

you, they were delicious.

I: Were they flour or cornmeal?

R: Flour.

I: Flour. Now all of these people you're talking about

lived across the creek, you say?
) 1-1e-y)
R: Yes. They lived not across down here, but there was

another branch way over that way.

I: Is that afr area of what they call Ewing's Farm now?

CRK 53A 25

R: Yes, yes.

I: Was Ewing's Farm there at that time?

R: Yes. And I remember the first airplane I saw.

I: Talk about the first airplane you saw.7IAa VCrj

R: Oh, I was about, uh...I was a little old tiny girl, and

OVhr ,e, Ct- the Ewing's farm was tic({ that's

when Mrs. Macy was living, and Dr. Macy. They were

living. I guess you've heard -7--r C0 V talk

of them.

I: Um-hmm.

R: Well, they were living back over there, then, at the

Ewing's farm. So they had this airplane to come over

there. Ooh, I'm telling you! It was on a July, I

believe, Fourth of July. And back then, my hair was

real long, long, and my mother used to roll my hair

up and put it way up here and she'd put a, like a

little pin or something and pin it up there. And my

hair hung way down my back. And I remember that we

used to go...that this airplane come and I was in

such a hurry to get over there to see the airplane.
De"".Sd UJeW"'d^
I thought sure to goodness it was gone leave. I'd

never saw anything like it. And those children. Oh!

There was Willie Lee, Willie Lee Martin, and Roberta,

CRK 53A 26

and of course, Emmalee and her sister, which is gone

now. She died, too. And I think...no, Mabel wasn't.

But Willie Lee and Roberta and Tracy--well, all them

girls who grew up with me, in myage. We all went

over there to see this airplane. It was...to me.. aS,,

6CYd some of them went up in it. They tried to get me

to go up in it and I, ooh, I just cried like every-

thing. I didn't want toddidn't want to even get

close to it. So, as I said, my hair was long and it

started to crank. You know/back then they had to

crank it. Oh, my hair just blew every direction!

I: How old were you at that time?

R: I was...I don't know. I was around six, around six

years old, I guess. And it wasn't long after that

that my motherE-get separated. But 4 fl AV oacr

T.G ,that was about the first airplane I ever saw

in my life. I'd never saw anything like it before.

But, uh... T ,..

I: Were there many people around who had automobiles at

that time in the settlement?

R: No. I don't think anybody hd any cars back then. Yes,

I believe so. Will McGe. Uncle Will. That's Roberta

CRK 53A 27

aCn4te 4 r S father. I think he had a car back then.
I think it was a Model T orjModel A or Model T or

something back then.

I: Was he then about the first one in the settlement?

R: Yeah, he was about the first one in the settlement

that ever had one. And, uh, as I can remember, I

don't know.

D OF: StfDE ( I: As a young girl, did you ever.......................

R: ...went over there to church. I used to go to church

with Mrs. Lister. I used to call her Granny Lister.

She's dead, too. Her daughter lives downi3U-f r-iO /

here. I guess you know the Pulyotts) don't you?

Gertie. Her. Her mother. And I used to go with her

back in the...back then they had the horse and wagon

days, mule and wagon days. And I used to...she used

to come from way over there now where they used to live

across the branch, too, nearby. Aunt lived over there

across the creek. And they used to come all the way,

around, miles all the way around to come by my mother's

house over here. And about six o'clock in the evening,

and we'd go in the horse and wagon down here to the Hog

fork, to the Holiness church down there. Now, that was

CRK 53A 28

_T ,t- re-e -
the good old days.4 I can remember the first time I

got saved in the Holiness Church--it old church arbor.

Just like they got an old church arbor out here now.

But back then, I mean, people were more sincere about

the..Lord in those days than they are now.
I: Tell me about that first time you got saved. How old

were you?

R: Well, I was a little girl. I was around...well, I

guess I was around six years,five or six years/ 61bJ

somewhere like that. And that was about my first

experience with the Lord back then.

I: And that was when you were at a brush arbor ,/" S/?

R: Yeah, the old brush arbor days./ People back then, we

didn't have any churches up here, only the little red

schoolhouse. They used it for school and church.

I: As a small child like that, how did you know that you

were...how did you feel in contact with the Lord? Being

saved at that young age?
R,: WelT rI rea
R: Well, I really can't ...I really don't know. It was just

such a beautiful experience that I tell you, back then
V- ''* 17, !I
I just couldn't realize that I had got saved. And then/ k

to kind of grow up with my dad, you know, and he drank

CRK 53A 29

IL LS, 'hc
quite a bit, you know. He wasn't a Christian until

after my mother had passed away. And so there you

see that my dad wasn't trying to be a Christian and, Cd

my mother was a Christian. It madequite a bit of

difference, /. h1oA.

I: Was she going to the Episcopale hurch at that.time,

your mother? Or...?

R: She was going to the/Holinessc/hurch. Well, back

then they didn't have any certain churches. And they

used to have the church over here in the schoolhouse,

the little red schoolhouse.

I: And that was the Free-will Baptists?

R: No, that was the Holiness church, and back then they

had Holiness Ljhurches. There was no...

I: In the settlement there?
-7-- uJas
R: Yes. And the little churchhouse over hereAthe church-

house and the schoolhouse. They converted it...

I: Did you have a regular pastor at that time for the

Holiness /Aiurch?

R: No. fO CVsA dY :

I: Who led the church?

R: Well sometimes we would have a preacher, his name was

Blair, I believe Back then when I was a little girl

coming along. 4 hey used...him and his wife used to

CRK 53A 30

come and stay with my mother for a couple of weeks and

run revivals.

I: Where did he come from?

R: Somewheres here in.Baldwin County, I think. Back then,

him and his wife, they'd come in horse and wagons.

I: When you didn't have somebody come for a revival, who

would lead the services at that time?

R: Well, my sister-in-law.4O'ne of my oldest brothers, her

father, Uncle Fred Walker.

I: Fred Walker.
ef wPi
R: Um-hmm. He was pastoring back then, trying to be, and

then there was another one we called Uncle Cleve Roend

which is gone now and Uncle Fred's gone, too. And they

would k#1t ^ '0 \~ the church.

I: Now, I understand later on Fred Walker was a leader in

the Episcopalq*urch. Is that right?

R: I really cbn't know.

I: But at that time it was a Holiness /hurch that he was


R: Yes, he wasAHoliness back then, but I couldn't tell you

about that. You see, my mother and daddy, as I said,

you know, I left here...I really don't know. I didn't f'

CRK 53A 31

attend to it any more after that.

I: Back when you said you were as a small child got saved,

was that just a personal experience or did you go up to

the front where the pastor was and present yourself to

him, or...?

R: No, that was just a personal experience. And of course,

back then people really didn't pay too much attention
to children. But I mean I knew that I had dealings

with the Lord because, you know, one can feel the

Lord. You/can really have the feelings and the touch

of the Lord on them, you know. And I used to say, well,

the Lord has guided me all through these many years. And,

so I still do say it right on.

I: Now, in the Presbyterian church you went to, Presbyterians

don't really believed in getting saved in the way that

the Holiness people do, 0 4-/
R: Well, I never did experience too much of the Presbyterian
A zey T- ,r 1'1C
ways. Indidn't never attend in anyvchurch, or...

I: Did you stay with the Presbyterian church through all

the time you were gone away fmrm here?

R: No. I attended Holiness churches.

I: When did you become a Mennonite?

R: Just last June.

CRK 53A 32

I: Tell me about how you changed toAthat, to Mennonite.

R: Well, I was really saved in a Holiness church, and

I was never really baptized. So I just...well, I,Z t-

liked their teachings, and I got quite a bit out of

their teaching and their Mennonites. So I just

decided I'd be baptized Mennonite. Not because my


I: You'd never been baptized before?

R: No. Some said that I had, but I don' think I ever

was baptized. I don't have any record showing that

I really was. And they tried to find the record where

I was but they couldn't find it. So I don't think I
-37-r -,IAy eF'
was ever baptized when I was a child. I don't remember

it. I did learn the catechism from the Presbyterians.

I did learn the catechism. But as far as being baptized,

I don't think I was ever baptized Presbyterian. But

anyway I do know that last year I was baptized Mennonite.

I: At this church here?

R: And I really...that's...I really liked their teaching.

I: Who introduced you to the Mennonites?

R: WellAwhen I/come up here, Clara and my dad would attend

the Mennonite church, you know, and I became acquainted

with a good many of themAin the church. And so I attended

CRK 53A 33

the meetings and what have you, so I just decided to

become a Mennonite.

I: When you were in Houston, did you attend Holiness church?

R: Um-hmm, sure did. Brother Freeman was my pastor.

I: What?

R: Freeman, George Freeman. rHe-hat /_- iC__ Texas. It

wasn't too far from Houston, about fourteen, fifteen miles,

I guess, out of Houston.

I: What about in California? Did you have Holiness church

out there?

R: Well, I attended Brother Charles Ford's church there,

down in Long Beach, California. And it wasn't Holiness
church., It was...I think it was a non-denominational

church. And I really did like that much better because ;y
it was non-sectarian. It's a non-denominational Oa/

t//l And any one could go there, go to church.

And he was the pastor, he could...he's gone, too, now.

And/he wa ...when I was a girl growing up, why, I had

backsL.bbEr) from the Lord and that was some time until

he was the one that really brought me back to the Lord


I: In Long Beach.

CRK 53A 34

R: Um-hmm, Long Beach, California. It's been many years


I: How long was it that you had backslid away from the...

how many years was that that you were in that condition?

R: Oh, when...I had backslid, I guess, about ten, fifteen

years. When I was around sixteen, seventeen years old,

eighteen, somewhere like that. Of course, I didn't

do anything no more maliciously than others did. Of

course, one thing about it, I neve7rwent out and gave

my mother a hard timeA never let her know where I was

at, you know7 Because my mother always believed in

me and she trusted me. And at nighttime come, my mother

knew where I was, you know. If I went to a movie some-

where erfaact, I'd never knew what boys was or anything

else was until I was grown and married. But we used to...

girls, you know, a bunch of girls, we used to go swimming

and do things, you know) Xind of pesterly-like to people,

and just l coming along. We didn't really

steal anything or we only stole some fruit or things like

that onAfruit stands. And we'd go out dancing and what

have you and go to the moviesr$Jack then you could get

in the movies for a nickel. And, you know, things like

CRK 53A 35

that. And we'd go swimming, iWell, we'd hitchhike

way out of town and go swimming way out to the little

place, to the nightclub places out there, you know,
where they have the old, you know...what do you call

it? Juke box And we'd have the juke box

going and we'd swim out there and it wouldn't cost us

nothing, about a dime, I guess. And we'd swim out

there till maybe nine, ten o'clock at night. Then

hitchhike back home.

I: All this was in Mobile that you're talking about.

R: Yes. 'm telling you,-wwas a mess. Well, just a

bunch of girls, that's all. We had about ten girls.

I: Was your second husband a religious man?

R: No. Aeah, I guess he was, too. In a way. 41'm sure

he wasn't too religious because if he had he wouldn't

have...my first husband. My second husband, no, he

wasn't. My first husband, he was a Lutheran.A he says

he was but if he was he wouldn't have never done what

he did to me, ever marry me and was still married to

his first wife and had two children. And so...

I: But your second husband was not any particular denomination?

R: No, he was no particular denomination.

I: When you were living away all those years, did you ever

CRK 53A 36

get lonesome to come back to this part of the country?

R' Well, sometimes, you know, you'd reminisce about it.

I used to think about how I was a little girl. I used

to...my mother used to live over there on the hillside

and...well, I used to wonder, I used to think back...now,

right now I do sometimes, I think back, you know. I wish

times would go back then. If I could live the days back

then, more then than now. Of course, people back then

they cared for one another. They loved one another.

But today people have...they've gotten to the stage

where there's no more love, they don't care about one

another no more. They don't care if you lay down and

die or if you get sick or what have you. They don't

never...actually they're very unthankful people. We're

living in a very unthankful generation. People don't...

I: What made you finally decide to come back here?

R: Well, I don't know. Just decided I'd come back here,

I guess, after my dad passed away. And I had my mother

here and I had my brothers all here, you know, and what

have you. And then Texas got to be pretty/bad place

over there, and so...people were beginning to live

behind closed doors most of the time. Locked doors,

you couldn't get out. You couldn't go to the store

CRK 53A 37

like to you really wanted to So I just got to where

I just didn't like to live there anymore.

I: Do you ever miss the big city?

R: Yes, I do, really.

I: What do you miss about the big city? ,/lc Pr,

R: Well, you know, being in one practically all your life

and then coming to the country, you do sometimes kind

of miss it. But really, I'mean I wouldn't takeyut

here since, I mean, since they got lights out here and,/c/

everybody around here to me it's just like I'm closed

in. Like in a little city, you know, in here. And I

really feel good about being out here now. I really


I: Do you ever feel an impulse to just get in your car

and drive to Mobile to be ingcity again?

R: No, I sure don't. UJl -1.

I: Well, do you think it was mainly your father's death that

brought you back here, made you begin to think about it?

R: No, it really wasn't it, no. Because, I mean, just like

I said, you know, Texas was growing fast and they had a

lot of pesterly people that lived out there and a person

just gets tired of living behind closed doors. You

couldn't get out and walk the sidewalk at night or you
couldn't go anyplace any more because I was always afraid
couldn't go anyplace any more because I was always afraid,

CRK 53A 38

In my car, I'dAfeel somebody was following me or some-
thing, and how they would follow women if you got off

from work or something...I was afraid to go to work,

especially if I was late coming home in the evening,

and I'd have a good ways to drive from, you know, and

if it was nightime, something like that, early in the

morning. I'd have to get up around four o'clock in

the morning and go so many miles to work, and at that

time of the morning there wouldn't be too many people

traveling around or anything else like that. And you'd

see all of these young boys and these hippies and what

have you and they always...I've had them to drive up

by the light, you know, and one would jump out and try to

run to the car and if you didn't have a gun orAhave your

doors locked and your windows up, why, they'd jump and

get right in the car with you, you know. So I just...

I I was afraid. I just lived under fear, most.
) ; { tQ ar,- 'i
I: So it wasn't too hard a decision for you to make to

come back?

R: No, it really wasn't too hard of a decision.

I: Did you have a lot of things you had to sell and clear

up to come back here?

R: No, uh-uh. Sure didn't. In fact, I always rented a

CRK 53A 39

/. furnished apartment. And what I bought, I bought on

my own.

I: When you were...this is changing the subject completely,

but when you were living in Texas, did strangers ever

come up to you and just start speaking in Spanish,

thinking you were Mexican?

R: Yes.

I: How did you handle that situation?

R: Well, I talked right back to them.

I: Yes?

R: Um-hmm. I spoke Spanish quite a bit out there sometimes.

I: Oh, you did?

R: Um-hmm.

I: How did you pick up Spanish?

R: Well, I had a lot of friends that were Spanish out there.

Ad the Spanish to me wasn't really too hard to speak.

I: So you just picked it up by being...

R: By being with my friends and all, uh-huh. It wasn't hard

a ll.

I: Did you happen to have any Indian friends out there at all?

R: Yes, there was some that were part Indians out there, you

know, and Mexican people, half-Indians as well, you know,

and what have you, and so I think that I done fairly

well in talking Spanish with them.

CRK 53A 40

I: You did! La h
R: Yeah. Everywhere we went I got a lot of Spanish people,

Mexican friends.

I: Same in California, I guess.

R: Oh, yes! Sure. Same in California. Me and my husband

used to go down in the Chinese restaurants, they used

to take me for Chinese.

I: They did, huh?

R: A lot of people! Oh, in Houston they used to take me

for Chinese, because my eyes was small, you know, small

eyes. And they used to ask me am I part Chinese or part

Japanese or something.

I: Was it ever an embarrassment to you?

R: No, it was never an embarrassment. No. I'd always say,

"No, I'm Indian." Like that, right away. They'd say,

"Oh, yeah. Yeah, now I see your cheekbones." Up here,

you know.

I: Well, on that point, let me ask you then, how have the

Indian people of this area changed in the years that

you've been away and came back? What was your reaction

when you came back?

R: Well, I see 1634 are very proud. I see a lot of

themAare more educated than they used to be and they have

more than they used to be, fah they used to have. And I

CRK 53A 41

find that, well, I feel more satisfied with them

having what they have had, what they've got, than

what they were brought up in, or/didn't have back then,, yrd

KCno.0 because what they have now, they've got, you know,

CCt ',I ttl.r.. /.. Yr', Jk i/",,rfS and I really

think it's just wonderful how they've all come out.

I: Besides things and education, do you think the people

have basically changed at all in their outlook on


R: I do.

I: In what ways have they changed?

R: Well, I don't know. I think they've come to the idea,

I mean...well, really, in some ways, in some respect,

but I think they, are more settled but less stabled,

you know, I mean in the ways that...they don't know how

to...they've got more...what I'm trying to say, they've

got more than they realize that they ever had in their

lives, and they don't know how to...how to do it, I suppose.

How to...how to...well, I can't say ...

I: Manage it?

R: How to manage it. Because they/got things now which

they never had in their life and, really, they're not

CRK 53A 42

good/management in it.

I: What about in the relationships with people and each

other? Do you think...you said something about there's

not as much love.

R: Thereisnot. There is not too much love in with the

people anymore. I think...I think as the years go by,

there's not too much love with anybody. Not too much

love with any of them or anything of that sort. Want

some more tea?

I: No, that's fine. Thank you.

R: And as far as that, I don't think people really love one

another like they used to love anymore. Because I think
L,l -fl,e.y r.v.
people are more envious, really. And they're, stingier,

more stingier, and they're/more envious of people. The

more you get, the more you want--you've heard of that old

saying. That's right. That's the way people are. They're

not satisfied with what they've got, they want more.

I: Well, what do you think of all that's happened in recent

years, the wearing of Indian costumes andnpow-wows and

all that?

R: 4 I think it's beautiful.

I: Do you?

CRK 53A 43

R: I do. I think that really brings out what should

have happened, what should have been years ago.

I: Why should that have been (Ce Y <'/".

R: Well, to let people know thatihere is Indians here.

And my mother tried to get that started many years


I: Oh, she did?

R: Yes.

I: How did she try and get it started?

R: Well, back then, you know, my mother didn't know any-

thing about the government back then too much. But

it being sort of active back then, my mother said,

well, said,"'e should try to get all this together

and have the Indian people, you know, to -re- a/

come together and form themselves into like a reservation

here. But, I mean, that's as far as it got. And -4zy J'L&

people just never did...people weren't educated back

then. The older generation, they didn't have too

much of an education and they didn't know how to do.

And just like poor Calvin,i I'mso thankful he did

what he did do without the education, and but what

he did do I'm very thankful.

CRK 53A 44

I: Well, back to what your mother was trying to do,

did she ever go so far as to organize a meeting or

anything like that?

R: Well, she used to try to have the meetings in the

home, you know, things like that. I mean, they

just talked then, and people didn't have the money
and1 kpeoledi'n know -b0 4 -,-?" IR-0.
and people didn't know how to'bring themselves t e be


I: But she wanted to have it like a reservation?

R: Yes, my mother wanted to have it like, you know, like

a big reservation here for all the Indian people.

And yet, my mother, she was alone, she couldn'Jldo

it all by herself. And people back then, they didn't

know how, they didn't know and it was just hearsay,

just talk of it, you know.

I: What was her...did she have any particular goals in

mind for that idea?

R: Well...

I: What would she have hoped to accomplish by doing that?

R: Well, to see my people have more and to live better,

in better standard than what they were living in.

Because back then, my/people, my mother used to say

they didn't have nothing, they didn't hardly have

CRK 53A 45

beds and they had to cook on fireplaces back then and

what have you an my mother thought it was terrible to

see people back then didn't have no stoves and they

didn't have hardly a decent bed to sleep on. And it

was poor back then, you know. I mean, it was...I

don't know. My mother, you know, I mean...of course,

my mother, well, had more than, you know, she had


I: How/did she manage to be different in that way, to

have more than others?

R: Well, to be truthful about it my grandfather, my mother's

father, was an Indian doctor.

I: Um? What was his name?

R: His name was Fra er. And my grandfather used to get
,ACIe3O 0
quite a bit of...he'd go from one state to another you

know, selling his herb medicines. And he'd bring a lot

of things back home to my mother and he'd help my mother

out because my mother was the older child. He'd help

my mother out financially and to her and things

of that sort. And naturally, my mother had, you know

I mean, she accomplished quite a bit, having a nice, k-'A?

kind of a nice home, you know,and everything. And having

things that she...more than ordinary.

CRK 53A 46

I: Where did she get such an idea as to have a reservation

or something, do you think?

R: Well, my mother had traveled.

I: She had.

R: Yes. And so I think that's where she really got her

idea from.

I: Where -4ad she traveled to?

R: She'd traveled quite a bit with my grandfather, I think,

back in those days.

I: When he was off on his doctoring.

R: When he was doctoring. And shesaw quite a bit how

people lived, and it was in her mind to have her have

the people to live like that, as close, as much as

possible, you know. And/to try to have them to kind

of realize and having things. But as far as trying

to do anything about it, she couldn't do anything about

it, because back then it took money. And people then

didn't have no money and people worked for fifty cents

a day, I think. And...

I: Well, she wanted to have the federal government come and

help take care of the people, was that it?

R: Yes. That's right. My mother would have like to have

had the government to come in and see the Indian people.

CRK 53A 47

But back then the government, they just didn't care

anything about nobody but the government, that's all.

They didn't care anything about the colored people,

generation of people, or anybody else very much. All

looked for themselves, you know, just like today.

I: Did she ever show any interest in trying to/do Indian

crafts or make Indian costumes?

R: Yes, my mother did.

I: What did she make?

R: My mother used to crochet and she used to try to make

baskets. And she'd take rugs like this...

I: Braided rugs?

R: Braided rugs.

I: What kind of baskets did she make?

R: Well, she usually tried to make them out of straw, out

of pine straw and out of these /^na u, I guess

they were called straw, little straw IM c

U-e up like that, you know. She used to kind of plait

them together, you know, and try toweave a basket or

something. Used to try to show the people, try to get

them interested in trying to fix things, you know, and

then she'd take old neckties and pieces of material and

CRK 53A 48

what have you and plait them together, you know, and

try to show them how to do, you know. But that didn't

last too long, because, I mean, if people wasn't

interested soon the crops would come on, you know,

and then they'd have to quit that and go do the crops

and what have you.. And it just didn't last too long

A// because they just couldn't do it.

They jus wasn't interested.

I: Where did she learn how to make baskets?

R: Wellj as I said, my mother traveled quite a bit, you


I: Out of travel?

R: ...and/in her traveling times, you know, she saw this...

I: This was before she was married, I guess.

R: No, shewas...yes, my mother and dad were separated.

I: Oh, I see. This was later on after you moved away

that she was trying to do this.

R: Yeah, uh-huh, yes. AThen, too. Then well, too, before

my mother and dad separated. When we were little tiny

children, babies. Then my mother saw quite a bit of it

back in those days, too. And she would try to make these

braided rugs and what have you and try to show the people

CRK 53A 49

here. When my brother and I were tiny little babies.

I: She would call people together in her home?

R: Yes, and show them. My mother would show them how to

cook, you know, where to cook and fix things and she'd

show them how to fix cakes and things like that. She'd

have them all to the home, you know, over there, and

show them how to fix things, you know.

I: Did she ever go to school any place other than1ithe

little red schoolhouse over here?

R: Yes, but I couldn't tell you what school my mother attended.

I: Was it in this area or was it...?

R: No, it was ini..it's up...Tuskegee, Alabama, I believe

it was.

I: She went to Tuskegee?

R: I believe so.

I: How did she happen to go there? Do you know?

R: Well, my grandfather and her mother moved there when

she was a little girl, and her three brothers, Riley,

A/0o and Ed. Uncle 01\OA is the only older
oK s-ce-
one living now. And then, to my grandfather married

again after my mother's mother died. He married again

and his wife waslpretty well educated. She taught my

mother. And then when my mother come along and married,

she married the first time, she lost her first husband--

CRK 53A 50

my two older brothers' dad--he died. Then she married

my dad, and...

I: Your two older brothers are who?

R: My two older brothers...Alfred Jackson, Arthur Jackson.

And my sister, Maybelle. Then she had them, then she

married my dad. And my step-mother taught my mother

quite a bit how to read and how to write. And then

she sent her to school too. I think it was up in

Tuskegee, Alabama, or somewhere...

I: You mean your step-grandmother?

R: Yes, my step-grandmother.

I: Well, your mother must have been quite a woman.

R: She was. You hear quite a bit. Everybody knows about

my mother here. Yeah, she's...I mean, my mother was

a charm here to everybody.

I: Well, what do you think is gonna happen in the future

for the Indian people of this area right here?

R: Well, I think maybe they might...I don't say they're

gbnna-be successful and everything because Iwouldn't
darefffIA L -sayf, that, b I
dare say that, but I think(maybe that they re having

more than they've ever had in their life. Because I

remember Johnny, this boy lives right here, and Alton
and their mother, Faralla.) They never...when we were

CRK 53A 51

little children, they hardly ever had bread to eat.

And Valerie used to work for my mother. She used to

wash and iron for my mother when I was a little girl.

And I think that everybody has really come a long ways,
6Ack. b Fre T: Do L4-' I
"thank God, from then to here nowA nd I think they'll) PE
( (I just continue to live like they are, myself.


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