Interview with Sadie Florence, 1983-01-10

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Interview with Sadie Florence, 1983-01-10
Florence, Sadie ( Interviewee )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Fifth Avenue (Gainesville, Fla.)
African Americans ( fast )
Fifth Avenue African American (Alachua County) Oral History Collection ( local )
Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History ( local )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
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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

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Fifth Avenue Blacks' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
FAB 004 Sadie Florence 01-10-1983 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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INTERVIEWER: Joel Buchanan

INTERVIEWEE: Sadie Florence

DATE: January 10, 1983

J: Good evening, Ms. Florence. How are you this evening?

F: Just fine and how are you?

J: Fine, thank you. Ms. Florence, where were you born?

F: I was born in the country, a place called Melrose, Florida.

J: Where is Melrose, Florida from here?

F: It's five miles from a place they call Orange Heights.

J: Ms. Florence, when were you born?

F: I was born on November 19, 1905.

J: Do you remember very much about your parents?

F: Yes. We lived on a farm. We grew a little of everything because we had a
nice garden. We grew crops all the time and worked in the fields to keep
it clean. We grew corn, peas, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. Also, we
grew sugar cane and at the end of the year I'd be the one to feed the meal.

J: What do you mean when you say, "feed the meal?"

F: I fed the corn to grind the cane. The horse would pull it around and the
juice would come out and go in a barrel.

J: What did you do with it?

F: My daddy would put it in a big sixty gallon cooker and I must have ground
a lot of it. The barrel would be about full when he put it on to cook.
I'd grind ninety gallons a day because he had to have three rounds.

J: What did you do with the syrup when you finished?

F: He would keep some and give the rest to folks that didn't have food. They
were old people who didn't have a pension at that time.

J: Ms. Florence, what did you do with so much syrup?

F: I remember he sold some of it to the stores.

J: How did you eat it?

F: We would eat it with bread. Everybody missed it when my daddy stopped making

J: Did you have different kinds of cane that you grew?

F: We grew Japanese cane and red sugar cane. I loved the red sugar cane juice.
I loved it the best. We drank it. We had glasses out there for people when
they walked up. We had some crowd. They drank cane juice all day long.

J: That kept you busy, didn't it?


F: We each had to take out one horse and set another horse in for him. I was
the same person for three.

J: They changed horses, they didn't change girls.

F: No, they didn't change girls.

J: Ms. Florence, how many brothers and sisters were there in your family?

F: There were four of us, it was three girls and one boy.

J: Were you oldest?

F: No, I was the second child. [I had an] older sister.

J: I see. Do you know very much about your grandmother and grandfather?

F: My father farmed and worked at Camp Blanding. My father's name was James
Brooks and my mother's name was Eva before she married my daddy?

J: What do you know about your grandparents?

F: My daddy's father, my grandfather, was Jack Brooks. His wife was named Mary
Brooks and they lived to be a great age. My grandfather lived to be over a
hundred and my grandmother was ninety-eight when they put her away at a place
I think they called Bronson. I couldn't go to the funeral. I cried about it
but my daddy said that it was too far.

J: Do you know what your grandparents looked like?

F: Yeah. My grandfather had long hair that hung on his shoulders about the
length I wear mine. I asked my mother why his hair was long like that. She
said he was an Indian. I thought he was a white man.

J: Really!

F: I asked him what my grandmother was. He said she's African.

J: Do you remember talking to your grandmother and grandfather?

F: Um hmm. My granddaddy would teach us how to draw. There would be a crowd
all around. He drew pictures on the ground and let us see them. We thought
we could draw them too. He would draw on the ground but he never drew anything
on paper.

J: Where was he from?

F: He was from South Carolina. He said he hid in the trenches at the war. If
he hadn't hid in the trenches he would have got killed. That's how I know he
was in the war, but I don't know what year. He died in 1915, I just don't
know what month.

J: Do you know where?


F: He died in Melrose, because I visited his bed when he was sick.

J: Ms. Florence, can you tell us something about what your childhood was like?
Where was the house you lived in and how large was it?

F: There were about five different rooms in it and a porch. It was right there
in Melrose. I was born there. I was about five years old when she told me,
and my daddy's mother died then. I was five years old November and she gave
a Christmas tree to us in December. She died that March.

J: A Christmas tree?

F: All of us had a toy on there. My sisters had dolls and my brother had a gun
with ammunition. He must have had a cap pistol.

J: What was the Christmas tree like? What did you put on it?

F: We had to have plenty on it. People from the other side (where we would go
to church and school), came and put their presents on it. Miss Turnipseed
and Reverend Turnipseed were ones.

J: At your house?

F: No, at my grandmother's house.

J: Did you have lights or candles on the Christmas tree?

F: They had lights on it. It had a star on the top of it. I don't know
whether it lit up or not. At that time there wasn't any electric out there,
unless it was in our church. People didn't have electric in their house.
We had lamps.

J: You say you got a doll. Can you remember your first doll, what it was like?

F: Yes. My doll had really fine hair. One string would cry and the other would go
back in and say, "Momma." You pulled two strings. I'd pull mine so it wouldn't
cry. [laughter] I skipped around there and burned my hair so I had a pretty
tough Christmas that Christmas. I got burnt and had to go to bed.

J: I see.

F: I had my sister's doll. If I'd just tended my doll, I'd have been all right.
No, I had to see her doll cry. Anyway we had a good time. That Christmas of
1910. She died March 31st. My grandmother. I was five years old and I had
an umbrella that you could take off, wash and iron. My mother took it off,
washed and ironed it. I thought I nee-ed to wear it to her funeral. She said
it wasn't time to wear an umbrella. I could just wear a white dress to that.

J: You said you had a garden and cane. Did you grow anything else on the farm?

F: We grew peas, tomatoes, orange potatoes and sweet potatoes. We would be
dropping vines when my daddy was digging.

J: What do you mean dropping vines?

F: We would drop the vines what hung on the bench and he'd come along and stick
them with a stick. That would be planting them. The vine would be cut especi-
ally after the big rain.

J: What did you do for meat?

F: We had plenty of hogs we killed. We never killed over ten at a time. There
were plenty of old folks that didn't work anymore but they didn't get any in
the country and my daddy gave them some. He'd get in his truck and carry them
home. Some of them lived two miles from us.

J: How did you prepare the meat?

F: My mother would salt the meat down, and after they salted the meat down,
she would take some pieces of it, hang it up and smoke it. We smoked it in
a little house called the smoke house. It was a little house built just for
our meat. We didn't send it to a cold store.

J: Ms. Florence, did you go to school?

F: Yes, I did.

J: Where did you go to school?

F: I went to school in Melrose.

J: Do you know the name of the school?

F: Let me see now. I know it was a country school there in Melrose. When I
went to school I didn't have to start off with ABC's and Primers. I knew
what was in primers, so I took two grades a day. In the morning I'd have
first grade and in the afternoon, I had second grade. I climbed pretty fast
out of low grades, and into the higher grades.

J: Was the school in a school house or church?

F: At first it was in the schoolhouse but our schoolhouse wore out and we went
to school in the church. They moved the schoolhouse to the church.

J: Did you have different rooms?

F: The school was all one part. We had different places where different grades
would sit but there wasn't any partition between them.

J: Did one person teach you?

F: As far as I know we didn't have but one teacher. I went to school with a
cousin of my mother's aunt. I went in when he was about ready to come out.
He's now over a hundred. His names is Pilchard. That's the only blood
relative I got in Melrose now. I want to go see him.

J: I'll see if we can get you to see him.

F: He's the oldest one I know in Melrose.

J: When you were in school, how far was the school from your home?

F: About two miles. It's two miles from where we lived to the church side.
We went in morning and in the evening.

J: You walked?

F: There was a boardwalk.

J: When you were at school, was it all day or did you take lunch? What did
you do?

F: We went to school and took our lunch with us but we didn't stay all day.
I don't know what time we got out but I know it was twelve before we'd be
done. We always had to carry lunch.

J: Can you remember anything exciting about school?

F: Yes. I know we had a professor once. His name was Mr. King. He carried
us over our lunch time and we wanted him to feed us so bad until we asked
him to please let us eat. We got along fine. I was in the lower grades
when we had Professor King.

J: Ms. Florence, you said you taught school?

F: I was a substitute under my teachers. My teacher was ill and she stayed ill
for many weeks. The man over at the school talked with my father and got my
father to let me teach. I don't know how many weeks I taught. It would be
at different times and every time that she got sick, I'd be the one to substi-

J: What grade did you go to?

F: I went through the tenth grade but I was promoted to the eleventh. I taught
them as high as the tenth grade. I taught the ones right next to me. I don't
know how many weeks it was for, but I know I drew half salary.

J: How much was that at the time?

F: I can't remember because my daddy would be the one for that. I believe the
teacher was getting fifty dollars so I got twenty-five.

J: A month, a year, or what?

F: I don't know what it was. It could've been a week, I don't know.

J: Did you enjoy doing that?

F: I really did.

J: Do you remember any of your students you had back in those days?

F: Oh yes. I knew some of my schoolmates. They were very nice. They helped
me out a lot with different things they could do, such as having a bucket
of water in school.

J: What do you mean about a bucket of water in the school?


F: They would get some water and things for the school so we'd have something
to drink. They'd go to somebody's house and get it.

J: Oh really! [laughter] Ms. Florence, did you go to school all year or half
a year?

F: It must have been half a year.

J: What was the name of that church? Do you recall the name of the church where
you went to school?

F: St. John Baptist Church, the church that I joined.

J: What year did you confess?

F: I confessed in 1918. I found Jesus on a Thursday morning.

J: Where is this place?

F: It's in Melrose.

J: In Melrose. Ms. Florence, do you recall anything that your grandmother or
grandfather said to you as a child when you were growing up?

F: No. My father told me I had wisdom. I didn't understand him then but I do

J: What do you mean by that?

F: Sometimes, things that I would think about would occur just like I told him
they would occur.

J: Really?

F: It would just come to me.

J: Now, are you the oldest of your brothers and sisters still living?

F: The only one. All are gone except me.

J: Ms. Florence, when or how did you come to Gainesville?

F: My daddy brought me to Gainesville in his truck. I moved to Gainesville on
September 29, 1937.

J: Where did you move when you moved to Gainesville?

F: I moved to 709 Northwest 10th Street. They called it 819. But then it was
changed to 709 while we lived there. I lived there better than forty years.

J: Was that near a school, a church or what?

F: That was near Lincoln High. I never would have though that I would live in
front of Lincoln High and send my children to the school where I used to be
a maid. When Mother Hill came to Melrose on Sunday evening and preached and
sang, I would give the lesson. I gave nearly five dollars every time that I
could. I didn't know I would send my children to that.

J: Who was Mother Hill?

F: Mother Hill was a preaching lady that lived on Seventh Avenue. She's got
Christ on her door. You ever passed that?

J: Uh huh.

F: I didn't get here in time to see her living in it. She had passed away.

J: Ms. Florence, what kind of work did you do after you stopped teaching?

F: I was a maid for different people.

J: Can you remember how much you got paid?

F: I washed and ironed and made pretty good money. I cleaned people's windows
like they wanted 'em. You couldn't tell they were windows.

J: How did you do that?

F: I don't know, but I can do them that way now. They would pay me so much
for windows and doors.

J: Can you remember how much you got paid?

F: At that time, I can't remember how much windows were, but it was forty cents
a door. I would knock off in the evening around three-thirty or four o'clock
and go home. I made more than my husband did. My mother was, my husband
wouldn't get but a dollar and a quarter for all day. I'd go home, cook his
supper, and I made eight to ten dollars.

J: Did you get married at your mother's house?

F: Yes, we had so many people we got married in the yard.

J: Tell me about your wedding.

F: All of Keystone was there. All those yankees I had never seen brought me all
kinds of presents. They wanted to see me get married.

J: Can you remember what year you got married?

F: I believe I got married...

J: You got married in Melrose?

F: Yes.

J: Did you meet your husband there?

F: Yeah, I met him there. He came to see me in Melrose. He was living at Brooklyn.
I first met him in Brooklyn. I used to walk and go there barefoot. Before I
ever knew he would become my boyfriend, we were childhood friends.


J: You got around by walking?

F: Yeah. My mother loved to walk for miles. We'd walk four miles back before
it was night. My mother didn't allow us to be out at night.

J: You recall your granddaddy being an Indian and your mother's long hair.
What were people saying about you?

F: Well, there were about as many white folks at my wedding as there were
black. If anything it could have been more.

J: Why?

F: They thought I was a pretty black girl. A pretty black girl was getting

J: Why, you have a beautiful set of gray hair. Did you used to wear it hanging
down a lot?

F: I sure did. But it was so much longer than it is now. I never had to do
much to it because it looked good. I'd just comb it and fix it in my own
way. My hair hasn't been platted since my oldest sister died.

J: Did you wear a lot of rouge and lipstick in those days?

F: Not too much. I used a little bit. It looked natural. I never used lipstick.

J: You were a pretty black girl and they came to see you.

F: I did a lot of work With the white farmers. They would ask my father if we
could work on their farms. My grandmother worked there too. We'd gather
potatoes. They knew me well. So they came to see me be married.

J: Ms. Florence, do you remember what your dress was like when you got married?

F: My mother made it. It had a necklace on it. It had an open eyelet. The skirt
was blue. I don't know the name of the goods. My mother would cut her own
pattern. She would take a piece of paper and cut it until she got it to look
like she wanted. Then she would cut the garment and make it like the pattern.

J: How did you meet your husband?

F: I met him when he was a young boy and I was a girl. He'd come down to where
I lived. When I first met him, I was so young that he couldn't come to the
house with me.

J: Why?

F: My father didn't allow it. He said he would tell us when we were old enough
to take company. I'd have him go back because I didn't want my daddy to see me.
I wasn't old enough to take company.

J: What church did you belong to?

F: I belonged to St. John's Baptist Church. I confessed in 1918 when I was
twelve years old.


J: How do you do that?

F: I found Jesus. I knew he was the redeemer since I was twelve years old.
I had two uncles which means my mother's brothers were in the service and
one of them was in France somewhere, the baby one. I wrote him [the one in
New Jersey] and told them I had found Jesus. They wrote me back and let me
know they were glad I had found Jesus.

J: Ms. Florence did you have any children?

F: Well, yes, I am a mother of four children. I have four children. I raised
one of my grandsons [from the time he was] six weeks old. And I have done
as much for him as the one I birthed. I had more to give him and I spent
more on him than on my kids.

J: Ms. Florence, how did you get from Melrose to Gainesville?

F: My father moved me here in his truck on September 29, 1937 to Tenth Street.
I think it was 1918. Anyway, I lived at that one house for forty-three years.

J: Do you remember what your rent was at that time?

F: One dollar and seventy-five cents a week. I had my sister hold the house for
me so I could get here. I did owe her some back rent but it was $1.75. I didn't
remember when it changed but it kept going up.

J: What was it when you moved?

F: I don't know. [laughter] When I moved, I was paying by the month. I believe
I was paying forty-five dollars a month for a living.

J: Ms. Florence, you came here in the '30s. Have you seen much change in the
area that you lived in?

F: Oh yes! I sure have. I had been over here a time before. I had been over
to Gainesville on shopping trips.

J: You are black. Were you allowed to go downtown years ago?

F: Yes, you couldn't just dress any kind of way. We'd go downtown and I could
see the ones that didn't dress like me. I always wore my clothes all over
me and I never wore shorts and things like that. I was here when they wouldn't
let us wear shorts downtown.

J: Really? They wouldn't let you wear shorts downtown?

F: They didn't let them wear shorts downtown. I didn't want to wear them but
I am just telling you what was going on. They couldn't wear them when I
first came here but I don't know what year they did start to wear them. They
told me they didn't allow them down there. That's what they said. I never
did wear shorts, I didn't wear shorts when I was a girl.

J: What was school like for black children over here? Where did your children
go to school?

F: My children went to school at Lincoln High. I say, "old Lincoln" because
there's a new Lincoln. My grandson, Lonnie, went to school in the new one
a while but he graduated from Gainesville High.


J: So your children went to old Lincoln?

F: Old Lincoln.

J: They went from grades first to twelfth?

F: Yes. He entered the first or second.

J: Ms. Florence, can you remember what Fifth Avenue was like years ago?
What was on the street there?

F: What do you mean?

J: You know Fifth Avenue is a bad place to be. There's nothing on the street
worth anything. Did you have a theater?

F: Yes.

J: Did you have stores? Where were those places?

F: My children went to the show that used to be on Fifth Avenue. I never
went to anything like that but I let them go. They could go because all
they had to have was eleven cents.

J: How much?

F: Eleven cents. I would be talking to company outside my door and my oldest
son, Lonnie, Senior, he was a little boy, would be mopping all of the house
because he wanted to go to the show. I didn't have to give him but eleven
cents but I'd give him fifty cents for popcorn money. He had a good time on it.

J: Good. Was Fifth Avenue called Fifth Avenue?

F: I can't remember what it was called. My baby son thought I wasn't going to
give his oldest brother the fare to go to the show. He told me I didn't
have to give him anything. He would take some candy or peanuts and let his
brother have his share so he could go to the show. He sure loved his brother,
didn't he? He said, "Mother, if you can't spare it for my brother to go to
the show, just give him mine."

J: Ms. Florence, what did you do for doctors and dentists back in those days?

F: I went to the clinic dentist at that time.

J: Where was that?

F: It used to be the Number Two fire station. Was what I remember about it.
I knew the man's name that was working there. My daughter went to the doctor
and I went there myself. He knocked a carbunkle on my arm for me but he did
it before I knew what struck me. I was glad it was all over.

J: A carbunkle?

F: Mm hmm. I can't think of his name but he was in that building.


J: Ms. Florence,do you remember anything about the Second World War?

F: My mother's brothers were in the service.

J: Yes, but what about your children or didn't you have sons that went?

F: Yes, I had one son to go. That was Lonnie Senior.

J: Was that a difficult time here?

F: You had to do lots of work for little money. That's the year that I was a
maid working at old Lincoln. I didn't make but seventeen-fifty and I had to
work all week and half of Saturday. That was in 1950 when my son went in the

J: Do you remember the depression back in the early forties when they were giving
out stamps for food. Do you remember that period?

F: Yes. I probably got some help for my children. I don't know what year it
was because I can't think. I do know that at first I was getting apples
near the train station. We'd meet down there and get apples once a month.
That was before they were giving stamps. We were getting nothing but those
apples. That's the way it first started off. After that we didn't have to
have stamps to get the food, they'd already have our names on them. They
knew how many were in the family and they would give us some food. We'd get
canned chicken and cans of different stuff like milk and flour. That was
before they gave out the stamps.

"J: It seems that you had a life in which blacks and whites could do anything
together. Were things pretty good back in those early days?

F: They didn't mix all the way. It was all right to a certain extent.

J: How do you mean?

F: Sometimes, you couldn't go in different places and use things? It made it
difficult because I had to look out for myself. You know? You just didn't
go in the same place they went in. I went somewhere where they didn't allow
a black person in. They didn't allow you to get food like they would.

J: Blacks were not allowed to go downtown to try on clothes. Is that true?

F: I don't know. I didn't do too much of that because to tell the truth, I
always got help so I didn't have to buy too much. People that didn't know
me would help me. I didn't have a porch but I had a stoop when I lived down
there for a while. That stoop had a big sheet with plenty of clothes and
other things in it. Things that I couldn't use, I'd give to somebody else.
I lost my girl and I didn't have anything but boys.

J: People have said Sadie Florence was a very lucky person, and that she has a
special gift. Is that true?

F: It must be.

J: How.

F: Just look at what the ladies give me.

J: Beautiful.


F: Turn it over on the other side.

J: I see. I knew you said lucky, but I was told that you had powers, that you
could see things. Do you?

F: I have seen things all my life. I told you my first is all right. I can't
use that first mind. The second one reads all right. [laughter]

J: How have you used it?

F: I use it to a certain extent, as much as I can.

J: Let me ask you this before I finish. Tell me one thing you have seen happen
during your lifetime that you think has been good.

F: I really think the way everything is now is good. We can go anywhere we want
but it wasn't that way when I first came here.

J: Has Gainesville changed very much since then?

F: I think everybody ought to be getting along better. I was here when King
was here.

J: Were you scared during that time? Did you get nervous?

F: Well, I know it was going to get rough. I talked to Jesus about it. I knew
Jesus and I talked to Jesus because I really loved King.

J: Why?

F: King really did something for us.

J: How do you mean?

F: He tried to make it better for us. Just look what he went through. In time,
they'd be holding hands and walking the streets together. God knows I wish
they hadn't killed my King.

J: He was somebody, wasn't he?

F: I really thought a lot of him.

J: So you didn't go out and help or work in the streets, but you prayed for him?

F: I didn't work out in the streets but I prayed. I prayed that it would be
better. He said he might not live to see it. I talked to Jesus about it.

J: Are things better for black people now?

F: Yes. That's what I think, don't you?

J: It's much better. I didn't know what it was like when you couldn't go
downtown to eat.

F: I was just about to say, I think it's nice for everybody to have what they
are able to have. I teach my children that. I never got anything that


I didn't wait for and get myself. I think it's really good for everybody
now, better than it has ever been. If they just could go on out and enjoy

J: Do you even recall years ago when they hung black people? Do you remember
hearing about that?

F: Yes, I would hear about it. I heard my parents talking about it.

J: But you never saw one?

F: I heard about it but I never saw it. I'm glad I didn't because it would
have worried me a lot. When I was in Melrose I heard about it here in

J: Really?

F: Yeah. I'm just glad it got better.

J: Let me ask you something else. What building have you seen built that you
think has added a lot to Gainesville?

F: Well, what do they call the

J: You have been living in this area for fifty years?

F: I came in 1937 and I've been here almost fifty years. I've been living
here more than forty-five years.

J: What have you seen happen in this area that you have liked?

F: Well, I've seen houses built. Of course, there wasn't any of them for me.
I couldn't get one to live in.

J: Did you have sidewalks, roads, and lights back in those days?

F: No, not like they have now.

J: You didn't?

F: No. They're building sidewalks where you used to have to walk in the dirt.
Now they are putting a sidewalk on that side. It's really going to be some-
thing, and they say they're going to build a playground. It's going to be a
school with a

J: You have seen this area grow, haven't you?

F: Yes, that's right. Where I used to live, they were going to build a school.
The sidewalk has already come down there. I used to keep Mr. Neely's children.

J: Who was Mr. Neely?

F: You don't know Mr. Neely? Mr. Neely was a professor at old Lincoln. When I
first met him he and his wife were teaching there. They had two little children.
Well, me and this grandson of mine were the ones that took care of them. I
couldn't work and I couldn't put him in kindergarten. So I took him [with me
and I'd] go over and clean up the Neeley's house. I'd go home and wait until


the two children came home from school. I'd help them change clothes,
put on play clothes, and put up their other clothes. They'd go on the
streets or wherever they were going to play at.

J: Was that decent work?

F: Yes. I had to walk everywhere. I couldn't drive a car. Even if I had
wanted one. I couldn't drive.

J: Why?

F: I didn't own one and I didn't [know how to] drive. You had to have
somebody take me. When those buses came here to town it was just what
I wanted. [laughter] They would take me to where I worked. I was working
then out at Sunland.

J: What were you doing?

F: I was taking care of children.

J: Did you enjoy that?

F: Yes, I did.

F: I worked for Mr. Neely and Mrs. Neely for more than a year.

J: Really? That's great. Ms. Florence, how did you get around?

F: B/ walking!

J: They didn't have buses for you to ride? [laughter]

F: No! When they got buses I had moved in town. I tell it like it is. I
made a speech in the courthouse to let them know how they were helping me.
I was glad I didn't have to walk all over the town. I wanted them to stay
on for that. Did you see me?

J: Tell me about the things you did years ago for medicine? You say you never
went to the doctor once. I know you had to get sick.

F: I knew some home remedies. My mother would let me know what she was using,
and where it came from.

J: Can you tell me some?

F: Yes. When we had bad colds, she would go to the store and buy what you called
cow kidneys. She'd bring them home, peel off all the fat, rinse it, put it in
a pot to boil, cook it down and make tallow. When she'd make this tallow she
would strain it because she did not want fat in it, just this straight tallow.
She'd strain it into another container. When it gets cold, she would cut it
out in pieces. She'd us when we had a bad cold. She'd all
of our foreheads, the palm of our hands, our feet and
on our temples. That was for bad colds. Sometimes she would put tallow in the
camphor. She'd put a drop of camphor in it. She had to be particular as she
didn't want to get it in our eyes. It would be alright to put it anywhere else
on us.


J: Did it help you?

F: Yes.

J: What else did you use?

F: If you had a fever she'd go out and dig up fever grass. That's the only
oil I knew well. I used to dig it up and take it to dry. We'd dry it
out, put it in a pot and cook it, and drink the liquid.

J: Would you know that grass if you saw it now?

F: Yeah, I'd know it if I go to the country. I just haven't been out there to
get some inside of here. If you can't dry it, just rip some off, put it in
a pot and let it cook. You don't have to cook it too much because it's so
strong. You can't cook anything else it it.

J: I see. What did you do for a cut or a stain?

F: If you got a cut you'd have to get what they call a spider web to stop the

J: What do you do with it?

F: You'd get the spider web on the broom and stop the blood. It's good for
stopping blood. I used to bring it in town. I don't think I have much spider
web out there now because I cleaned it down this summer.

J: Did you have something special for stomach aches or headaches?

F: I know what's good for stomachaches. We used baking soda. If you ate too
much and had a hurting in your stomach, you would put a little baking soda in
the palm of your hand and lick it. People don't take soda like that now.
If my stomach gets to hurting, I take some soda. [laughter]

J: Ms. Florence, how did you keep food cold during those days?

F: At night, if we wanted to keep greens or something like that fresh, we
put them on top of the house. For anything else that we wanted to stay
fresh, like milk, my daddy would tie something around it and let it down
into the well. It would stay there all night. We didn't put too much
meat on top of the house because different animals could smell it like cats.

J: Did you cook on a wood stove?

F: I cooked on a wood stove for forty-five years.

J: Did you enjoy that?

F: I sure did. It was a big range and I cooked my bread and everything on it.
Nothing wore out.

J: Do you like it?

F: It wore our before I moved here, so I sold it.


J: Do you like your electric stove?

F: I sure do. I love it.

J: If you had a choice between your wood stove and your electric stove, which
one would you have?

F: Well, I would have the wood stove back on accountoif the good bread it made,
but the other is quick. I really love my electric stove.

J: Do you think things are better for the young people nowadays or worse? How
have things changed for them?

F: It looks to me like it's a faster life. I think things are better for them
now then they ever have been.

J: How do you mean a faster life?

F: It seems to keep going faster and faster until they don't have time for
anything. The boy I raised doesn't have time for me. I don't know why
he feels that way.

J: Do you think it's because he's young and you're old?

F: No, I don't think so. He had been taught to treat me like I treated him
because I gave him plenty.

J: May I ask this last question? Tell me one thing you haven't done in your
life that you would like to do.

F: I would like to be in a good comfortable home where I could have flowers
outside and have a clothesline for clothes. I like convenience. I like
this house but I don't like the things in it. I like to have a outlet. I
like living in the country. There, I had a place where I could do anything
I wanted to. I could wash and hang out my clothes there.

J: Well, do you think you're going to have that soon?

F: I hope to have it. I'm hanging my clothes on other people's lines. I don't
dry my clothes in a dryer. I pay for Lonnie's wash to be dried but I don't
like that.

J: Why?

F: I don't know why. I want the sun to shine on my clothes. It smells good.
You want me to tell you the truth? A gentleman told me a few days ago that
his wife wants his clothes hung. She told him she liked the way they smell.
I do too, and I've been used to that all my life, and I would like to get
back and have a clothesline and put the flowers out.

J: Ms. Florence, I have enjoyed talking to you tonight in your house in front
of your fireplace. Do you enjoy the fireplace?

F: Yes, I sure do. I wouldn't move to another house with anybody that didn't
have a fireplace.

J: Why?


F: I saw my pastor, Mr. Cookes, and his wife working on this house. I
asked if it was going to be for rent. He said, "Yes, it is." I said, save
it for me because I want a house with a chimney in it like the one I was
raised in. He didn't tell you I told him that? That's the reason I wanted
another house that had a fireplace. I like the fireplace and I liked the
door but I don't have it now.

J: Ms. Florence, thank you for allowing me to talk to you about your past life.