Interview with Lee Anna Aaron, October 16, 1983

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Interview with Lee Anna Aaron, October 16, 1983
Aaron, Lee Anna ( 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 )
Florida 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.

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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
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
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FAB 012 Lee Anna Aaron 10-16-1983 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Jessie Aaron

INTERVIEWER: Joel Buchanan

October 16, 1983

J: Good morning, Mrs. Aaron.

A: Good morning.

J: How are you this morning?

A: I am feeling fine, thank you.

J: Mrs. Aaron, could you tell me where you were born?

A: In a small town, Providence, Florida.

J: Providence, Florida; what is that near?

A: Near, it is sixteen miles from Lake City, Florida.

J: What year were you born, Mrs. Aaron?

A: 1890.

J: What are your parents' names?

A: Richard Jenkins and Shany Jenkins.

J: And where were they from?

A: My mother was from South Carolina. And my father was, really, that was
his permanent home right out there.

J: Did you have any brothers and sisters?

A: I did. I had two brothers and one sister.

J: And their names were?

A: Alvin Jenkins, that was a brother; Robert Jenkins was another brother;
and Marilyn Jenkins, that was my sister.

J: And what child, were you the youngest, the oldest, or the middle?

A: Alvin was the oldest, my sister next, me next, and another one that

J: Mrs. Aaron, can you tell me something about your childhood? Things
you did as a child, what the house was like, your schooling?

A: In those days, they had primary schools for children to go to. I went
to that. I was then promoted to the eighth grade. They had this
Florida Baptist College and my parents sent me to that. I went there
entering into the fourth term. You would graduate from the fourth
term, from the fourth year. I did that.

J: You did? Where was this college located?


A: In Jacksonville, Florida.

J: The school that you went to, was it a one-room school, two-room school,
or three-room school? What kind of school was it?

A: You mean out in the country?

J: Yes.

A: Two-room school.

J: Do you recall your teacher's name?

A: Sandy Wilson.

J: What kind of material did you all have? Did you all have many books,
pencils, and chalk?

A: Yes, we had a little primary primer, it was called a primer. There
you get your ABC's, you learned them, and you go on then and learn how
to spell two- and three-letter words until you could spell.

J: After you finished your college, what did you do then, Mrs. Aaron?

A: I got married.

J: Did you teach school any?

A: Yes, I taught two terms of school.

J: What did you teach?

A: I taught up to the sixth grade.

J: What subject did you teach?

A: I started off in this primer and then second reader, third reader,
fourth reader, fifth reader.

J: Did you enjoy teaching?

A: I enjoyed it.

J: What did you like about teaching?

A: I felt like I was doing a good thing to be able to teach children that
did not even know their ABC's. I had some very uneducated children.
They did not know nothing and I began to teach them so they could
learn things. Then they came to their senses and loved school.

J: Where was this school that you taught in located?

A: In Bradford County.


J: In Bradford County. What city in Bradford County?

A: Providence, it was a small school. [laughter]

J: You lived, went to school, and taught school in Providence?

A: Right.

J: Mrs. Aaron, do you know anything about your parents' background?

A: Yes, my father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife, but she
worked in the field with him.

J: What kind of crops did they have?

A: Cotton, corn, peanuts, and okra. Of course, they grew cotton, it
would yellow and they sewed it. And that was where they made their

J: When did you get married, Mrs. Aaron?

A: 1913.

J: And who did you marry?

A: I married Jessie Aaron.

J: Where did you meet Jessie? How did you meet him?

A: His parents were living not so far from us. I was 17 years old. He
begin to come there, you know, like young people would and so one day,
he wanted to know would I marry him and I told him yes.

J: Just like that?

A: I said, "Yeah, I'll marry you, but you have to ask my father and
"." So he came down one Sunday evening, sat around there and
talked to me a long time. My father had some hogs away from the house
and late in the evening he would always get his swill from the kitchen
and care for the hogs. So when he got his swill and went out there,
Jessie followed him up there. Then he said, "Mr. Jenkins?" He said,
"What." "I wants to, I wanta marry your daughter." (You know I had
a sister.) He said, "Well, which one?" Jessie said, "It's the oldest
one." So he said, "I can't tell you right now." So Jessie followed
him on up to the place where he gave that swill to the hogs. "I want
to know now," Jessie said, "'cause I want to get my business all to-
gether and I don't got a house to live in." You know people were
common in those days. Young people and old. When they told you some-
thing, you could depend on it. So he followed him on up to this place
where he.carried the swill to the hogs and said, "Mr. Jenkins, I want
you to answer me now. 'Cause I want to go to up to Providence to get
this license." And he said, "I'll tell you in a day or two." Jessie


said, "I want to know now." So he went on up there to the hogpen with
him and put out swill to the hogs. And he looked around at him and
he told Jessie, "Yes. You can have her."

J: So that was it?

A: That was it.

J: And after he asked your father for you, how soon was it before you all
got married?

A: A week or two.

J: Can you tell me something about your marriage? Where did you get
married at?

A: It was a young preacher there that was named Matt Price and he was a
Baptist preacher. We knew him well.

J: Now, did you get married at your house, at a church, or where did you
get married?

A: At my mother's house.

J: At your house.

A: My mother was on one side of me, my father was on the other side. Me
and him in between.

J: What did you wear on your wedding day?

A: I got my dress here. I wish we could find it. [laughter]

J: You have your dress here?

A: If you pick it up it will fall to pieces 'cause you know, that has
been a number of years ago.

J: It sure has. What did you have, after you got married, did you have
a party or a dinner or what? What did you all do after you got mar-
ried? Did you stay there?

A: I had cooked the things to serve the people. It was quite a few
people there. I had cooked two old fashioned cakes and baked a hen.
I had set up a big long table full of good food.

J: Really?

A: Old country cooking.

J: Country cooking for your wedding day?

A: Sure did.


J: What did Jessie wear? What did Mr. Aaron wear? Do you remember what
he had on?

A: He had a gray suit, little common gray suit. And I had this blue

J: Blue dress. After you all got married, did you all live in Providence,
did you move from Providence, or where did you stay?

A: He had a job down in a place named Fulford. He rented a house, and
put some little corn furniture in there.

J: Fulford. What is that near?

A: That is way down south.

J: What kind of work was your husband doing then?

A: Well jobs were few and common then. Anything he could do, he would
get a job and go to work.

J: Did you stay home? Were you working?

A: I worked some, after a while his mother came.

J: She came to where you were living, and lived with you?

A: Yes. Her name was Miss Annie Aaron.

J: Annie Aaron. Did Jessie have any brothers and sisters?

A: Yeah. He had Doris, Edna, Merle, and Alma.

J: You cannot think of all of them? Was he the oldest or the youngest
or where was he in there?

A: Doris was oldest, and he was next.

J: Jessie was next?

A: Yes. One they called Earl was next; three boys. Then they had Edna,
Alma, and Merle. This was a big family. And the family that stuck to
one another like a leech.

J: Really.

A: It was a loving family. They stuck to one another.

J: That is good.

A: If one was in trouble, that meant all of them were in trouble.
Until they got him clear.


J: Where was Jessie's family from?

A: Well, out there.

J: Out there in Providence, too? Did you have any children?

A: Yes.

J: Can you name them for me?

A: I have one there.

J: And what is her name?

A: Her name is Ida Woodside now. [laughter]

J: Ida.

A: Ida, Carl, and We called him Bunch.

J: Bunch. So you had three children?

A: Four. There is a fourth one.

J: Four?

A: Passed at an early age. I mean, right after he was born.

J: And Mrs. Aaron, when did you all move to Gainesville?

A: I do not know but I know we moved here.

J: You [have] been here a long time?

A: Seems like I was in the country and he was a man that always wanted
to have a good job that pays a lot of money. So we came to
Gainesville, and he got him a job.

J: Did you all move to this house here when you came here?

A: No, Lord. This house was not here, child. We moved somewhere or
another. I do not quite remember. Then finally he bought this lot,
and by piece by piece, he built this house.

J: Did he build this house?

A: I mean, he was a man, you hear me! He was not half a man. He was a
whole man.

J: Mrs. Aaron, tell me about the living conditions during your early
years. What was life like for a lady and a man with three children
trying to survive? Was it difficult to live?

A: No, it was not so difficult to live because he was a man that was
smart, had a job, and he was a cook.

J: A cook.

A: I mean, he must have been a cook, he cooked for the longest time at
the College Hotel.

J: He did?

A: Yes.

J: And did you work?

A: I had me a job with a lady, cleaned up her house, made up her beds
and things. And raked her yard.

J: Did you? Do you remember how much you were getting paid?

A: Well, I think my first wages was eight dollars a week.

J: Eight dollars a week.

A: That was a lot of money. [laughter]

J: Was it?

A: You all do not work for that now.

J: Oh no. Mr. Aaron started to sculpt, doing his art work in a later
part of his life.

A: That is right.

J: Do you remember when he first started doing that?

A: Yes.

J: Can you tell me something about that? Were you concerned why he was
doing it?

A: I first told him, "You ain't gonna hardly make no money out of that."
And he said, "Well, I'm gonna try it anyhow." And he got going and
he has done good, too. He sure did. Carving wood.

J: Did you ever help him? Did he let you help him?

A: Yes. These little things that I could do.

J: What was that? Can you recall some of the things you did for him?
With him? His carving?


A: I used to take the saw, when he showed me how long he wanted a piece
of something, I would saw it off. Then I was a woman that liked to
fix good meals and he was a man that ate often.

J: Oh really?

A: He didn't say anything, just come in and eat three times a day. Most
any time between meals, he would come in the kitchen, say, "I'm hungry.
I want something." I said, "Well, you go in there and get whatever
you want." And I [would] always have something cooked in case he
would want something.

J: Did he have any favorite recipe or anything that he really especially

A: He liked sweet cooking.

J: Sweet cooking.

A: We used to call it sweetbread.

J: What was that? How do you make sweetbread?

A: Well,

J: Did you ever go to any of his art shows or to any of his exhibits?

A: Yes.

J: What did you think about his work?

A: I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.

J: Really?

A: Yes.

J: Do you feel, because he started at his, during his older years in his
life, would you have wanted him to have started early, doing this art?

A: Yes, if he had started it earlier, he would have become to be a
wealthy man.

J: You think so?

A: I think so.

J: Do you have any of your children or grandchildren that you think have
that artistic ability that Mr. Aaron had?

A: No. We wanted them to take over some of his, but you know how these
little folks are. They always got something else on their mind.

J: What was the typical day? How long did Jessie work when he started
working? Did he work in the nighttime, early in the morning, or did
he work all day?

A: Early in the morning, mostly.

J: Really?

A: And night, too.

J: Oh, he worked at night also?

A: Yes.

J: Did you ever think he was doing too much?

A: Yes, I always thought he was doing too much but he would say he knows
when he was tired and stopped. He knew when he was tired enough to
stop. Kept on going, too. Kept on going, kept on going.

J: What were some of the things Jessie used to do before he got started

A: Cooked-at the hotel.

J: I heard that he used to grow flowers. Is that true?

A: Yes. He would grow flowers and I stayed here and sold them to white

J: Really?

A: Sure did. It's lots of things you can write up about him. He grew
flowers and made this carving work, and he was a wonderful person
around the house. He built this old house.

J: Was he handy about doing things around the house?

A: Yes.

J: He was?

A: When he would have time.

J: Did he help build a church in Gainesville, too? And that Williams
Temple Church of God and Christ?

A: Yes.

J: Do you remember that happening when they built that church?

A: I sure do. He would not take time to eat some days when he was
working there.


J: Really?

A: He got that church up off the ground.

J: And it is still standing today.

A: You see what it is! [laughter]

J: Mrs. Aaron, how old are you now please?

A: I [was] born [in] 1890.

J: What item or what has come into existence that has been invented
since your lifetime that you really enjoy?

A: Well, [I] enjoy keeping a clean house. I enjoy washing and ironing,
which I done a lot for the university.

J: Did you?

A: Yes, that was the one place where we made our first start making

J: At the university.

A: We sold clothes from the university.

J: Used to do what?

A: Bring clothes from the university and wash and carry them back. And
I have, I was paid sixty cents a bundle, and;then Saturday night, when
I used to count my money, I have had forty and fifty dollars.

J: From just doing bundles? Now when you did a bundle, did you have to
iron the bundles, too?

A: Yes, iron the men's shirts. BVD's. You know what they are, don't you?

J: No. What were they?

A: That was the underwear that men used to wear. They were only one
piece. I had kept some of them things, you know, to tell you younger
people about. I think I finally got rid of them.

J: Really? You used to iron those too?

A: Yes, sir.

J: Well, now how did you wash and iron? Did you boil the clothes or how
did you do that?

A: I had a boil pot and you stick those clothes and rub them, wash them
and wait a while. And put them in that pot. Put your washing powders


in cups and soap in there and let them boil. And boil, pick them up,
and wash, rinse in at least three and four waters.

J: Did you wash them with your hands or what?

A: Rub board.

J: Rub board! And now what is a rub board?

A: I got one back there.

J: Really!

A: I have a rub board back there.

J: And you used that?

A: Yes, that helped clean the clothes.

J: What kind of iron did you iron with?

A: Heat that iron on the stove or even in the fireplace. Have an oak-
wood fire laying there, put your iron down there and your iron would
get hot. Well, that kinda went out of style so we would heat them on
the stove some. And have what they call a coal bucket. Buy coal from
the coal man. Make a fire in this bucket and put a piece of wire on
the top. Set them irons up there and then you Boy, I had
to iron. The men would have four or five or six shirts and the same
of BVD's and you would have to wash the socks.

J: And you brought the clothes from the university to your house and
washed them here and ironed them and took them back?

A: Yes.

J: Did you have to do that in one day or did you have two or three days
to do that?

A: I had the whole week to do it. Just have to bring them back by
Friday or Saturday. He had a job cooking for the White House and
for this and that they did not pay for. I went
blind one time.

J: Did you really?

A: I couldn't see. All that was straightened out and I can write you a
letter if I have to.

J: You could write a letter now?

A: Oh, I write, write letters! I went to this college you know?


J: Mrs. Aaron, you were here before cars were invented and before we had
the television and the radio. And the new supermarkets. Which one
of those items do you enjoy a lot?

A: Television.

J: Why do you enjoy that so much?

A: Well, you can hear things from most everywhere. You know that.

J: Do you watch it very much now?

A: No, I do not. I do not have it to watch because I do not really want

J: You do not want it. Aren't you very handy with your, don't you sew a

A: I have a pound of aprons in there.

J: Really?

A: I make aprons and sell. Used to. I do not bother about fixing them

J: Really, and what else did you used to make years ago? What were you
making a long time ago? Didn't you do a lot of sewing years ago?

A: All my life.

J: What did you make?

A: My clothes.

J: Your clothes?

A: And it was a good that girl had some little children. Yes. I think
I made the first straight decent looking dress that them children

J: Did you make quilts?

A: No end to the quilts. Piece of quilts scraps, buy the cotton, put
them, half them things up there and spread that lining part to the
bottom, then put the cotton all in straight, and put the top on and
get your needle and thread and sew it. I will have to get a quilt
and show you. I got some.

J: Tell me some things that you enjoy cooking, Mrs. Aaron.

A: I enjoy picking greens and getting them ready for the pot. And put-
ting them on and cooking.

J: Greens?


A: Greens.

J: What is your favorite kind of greens?

A: Turnips.

J: Turnips?

A: But I can cook corn muffins and turnips and anything. Spinach. My
husband used to grow spinach.

J: Did he?

A: Sure did. I could go to the garden and get, 'cause I wanted to cook
for my people. People would come along and buy a bunch of spinach,
turnips, rutabagas. He was a Godfather, you know.

J: What do you mean by that, a Godfather?

A: Plant any kind of greens, peas, okra, something I always did like.

J: I like okra. Did he plant that?

A: Yes, sir. Raised okra, mustard turnips, rutabagas, spinach.

J: Did he have any livestock? Did he have any animals?

A: He got started with white rabbits. And you know, white people'is
crazy about white rabbits.

J: Oh, really?

A: Yes. We raised them things in a shack and we would skin them and
clean them nice. White people come right there and get them.

J: Rabbits. Did he have chickens?

A: Oh yes, I was crazy about chickens. I used to raise childens, sell
eggs, and give eggs away.

J: What did you sell a dozen eggs for?

A: At that time, fifteen cents a dozen.

J: Fifteen cents a dozen.

A: And it went up to twenty cents. And it just kept going up. And I
just got piles of money.

J: Did you?

A: You know, as you get older, I don't care what your occupation is, you
get a little jaded and you got a living anyhow and you just go some-
where and sit down.


J: Do you?

A: Not too long ago, I sold my rooster and hen out back.

J: Did you?

A: I just retired.

J: You got tired.

A: Yes, you know, I am 90-some years.

J: Well, now where do you live now, Mrs. Aaron?

A: Here.

J: Here.

A: 'Course my daughter and them, they have a fit if I do not want to
stay with them. But I got to stay right here. I want to be in my

J: Your house?

A: So, she has come here to stay with me because I cannot stay here by

J: That is right.

A: And somebody, like somebody will say, why don't you marry? I say,
marry somebody new?

J: Why would you want to marry?

A: I would not want to. I do not want to.

J: Of course not.

A: I want to do what I want to do. I do not need nobody.

J: That is right. Mrs. Aaron, can you tell me something about your

A: Yes. in Miami.

J: In Miami.

A: But since he is gone, I have been down there to visit. But I do not
like Miami.

J: You don't? Why?

A: It is too much of it.


J: Too much.

A: I just do not like it.

J: What do you mean when you say too much?

A: When I say too much, I mean it is people. They are running through
the yard, and cussing going on and fighting right at your house. In
your yard, they run through your yard fighting. I do not like Miami.

J: You do not like Miami.

A: No.

J: [Do] you like Gainesville?

A: See where I am.

J: I see where you are. I see your chair in your living room.

A: The children all have their homes somewhere else.

J: The other daughter lives in Tallahassee?

A: live in Miami.

J: And where does the son live?

A: Down the road there.

J: He lives in Gainesville.

A: He has got a nice wife. But I sometimes visit him. Unless his wife's
kinfolks (she has got some nieces that do not have a home). Half of
the household comes here and stays with me so I can stay here.

J: Oh, so you can stay here! Well, don't you need somebody to take care
of you?

A: Well, I do pretty good with myself.

J: You have.

A: Yes.

J: Well, can you do everything for yourself?

A: I can get a bath. I can wash some small pieces of mine in my bathtub.

J: In your bathtub?

A: And first of all, I do not care what happens.


J: Can you cook for yourself?

A: I sure can. You know, poor people do not have nothing to eat. Cook
a pot of grain. Get cornbread. Bake some potatoes in stove. That
is all I want.

J: That is all.

A: Breakfast times, bacon and grits and toast.

J: What about coffee?

A: I do not drink coffee. I have a cup of hot water and then pour just
a little bit of coloring' coffee in it. I never did bother with coffee
because coffee was like, I don't know. I just did not care about

J: You did not care about coffee.

A: Mr. Aaron, you know, he was a coffee man.

J: Was he?

A: I would buy one and two bags. Last a week until the next Saturday,
go to the store.

J: When Mr. Aaron was living, who did the shopping? For the household.

A: I did.

J: You did. Did you drive?

A: Nope. I never did want to drive and I did not. He tried to get me
to learn and I just told him I will sit in the back seat. You and
your children want to drive, you go ahead. Bunch, her husband got a
car and she got one.

J: Really?

A: You know, her daddy give her one. He had to give her one, you know.
Paid on it. But she got papers. And her husband got one. Sitting
up in that place together, side by side. He said she is getting ready
to go to church and he does not want to go, she get in her car and go.

J: Go herself. Mrs. Aaron, why do you think that you have lived so long?
What do you contribute your long life to being?

A: Well, you know, what the Bible has to say about that.

J: Tell me what does it say.

A: Honor your father and your mother, that the days may be long which
the Lord thy God giveth you.


J: So do you mean, did you honor your mother and father?

A: I sure did. I honor them, done for them all I could. And my father
outlived my mother. My mother was a lady that had this disease called
dropsy. I was married, but I went back, stayed around and did what I
could for her. 'Till she passed. It has been so long. We do not
know exactly where her grave was. That was Jessie's grave we found
out there and cleaned off.

J: Do you believe in God?

A: I sure do. I am living for him every day.

J: Every day.

A: I ain't gonna tell you no lie. And I ain't gonna do you no harm. If
I can't do you no good, I ain't gonna bother you.

J: I hear you.

A: I am a Christian woman.

J: Christian.

A: Yes.

J: Do you believe that is the reason the Lord has allowed you to live to
be 93 years old? That is a blessing.

A: I know it is.

J: How is your memory, how do you feel? Do you feel okay?

A: Feel good. And want to tell right now I am ready for dinner. [laughter]

J: How is your appetite?

A: Fine. I had a tooth filled here the other day. I had problems eating,
but I can eat two of them things.

J: You can?

A: I like to taste the plums when they get good and ripe.

J: What can you do with those? Can you preserve them or anything like
that or can you just eat them ripe?

A: Just eat them ripe.

J: Just eat them.

A: I do not know anything else how you know a way to fix plums. Just
eat them off the tree.


J: Mrs. Aaron, if you give a young person advice, what do you tell that
person to do with their life?

A: All of their life? First of all, let your soul be saved from the sin
and shame. And that will lead and guide you in what to do, not to me,
him, yourself and everybody else.

I do not mistreat nobody. If anybody comes along, and wants something
that I got, I have took things I need and give them to the poor. Some-
body wants them. Just like that little girl, Eileen? After her
mother and everyone died, it is a wonder she has never been back here.
She called here and wanted me. I bought cloth and made her clothes
and things. Until she could do for herself.

J: What would you tell a young married couple who were just getting mar-
ried to do? What would you tell that young girl to do?

A: To do?

J: If she was just getting married, about being able to stay with her
husband and raise a family. What kind of advice would you give a
young girl that is getting married now?

A: Well, obey your husband.

J: Obey your husband?

A: Yes. If he is right.

J: If he is right?

A: Yes, and do things, keep house for him, like it should be, and cook
him meals. You are not married, are you?

J: No.

A: Why are you not married?

J: I am not ready yet. I think I will be ready in the next two years.

A: Two years!

J: Yes. You know marriage is not as difficult to do. It is not easy to
get in and find somebody who will want to live and do certain things.

A: That is true. That is right.

J: Now how many years were you married to Mr. Aaron?

A: In 1912 or 1913 one, and you know about how long he lived.

J: And you all were married that entire time? That was the only husband
that you had?


A: Only husband. I did not want no other man but him. And at my age
now, I do not need men.

J: No.

A: house?

J: Yes.

A: House he built. I am living here.

J: You are living here.

A: And some of the children are in and out. I am always here by myself.

J: I understand.

A: I got me a doll and I sew for my doll. [laughter]

J: For your doll?

A: Yes, I sew for my doll.

J: Do you?

A: Yes.

J: I am gonna simply stop talking in a minute. I want to ask you
something. What about Jessie do you recall? That stays with you
about your husband.

A: What did you say?

J: What one thing about your husband sticks out in your mind? Tell me
something about him. There are some people that did not know your
husband. Tell me some things about him that you think people should
remember about Jessie. Or they would have liked if they had met Jessie.

A: Well, like some men do, go out and stay out half the night. He never
did that. Whenever he get through his work, he would come in and take
a bath. I would give him a little supper, and we would go to bed.

J: Really?

A: That is right.

J: What about his art work? Can you tell me something about him that
you think was an important point?

A: The art work?

J: Yes.


A: Well, he said one morning before anybody got up, a voice came to him
and told him to carve wood, and he could sell it. Make more money
than he was making. So that next morning he got up and started. Kept
that going on until he left here.

J: Did you keep any of his work? Did you keep any of his sculptures?
His art work?

A: Yes. The children have some around here somewhere. The children got
some of it.

J: Mrs. Aaron, I have enjoyed talking to you this morning in your house
and I shall remember what you said and what are you going to do now?
What is your day like? This is mid-morning. Have you had breakfast?

A: Yes.

J: Is it time for dinner?

A: I do not know, what time is it?

J: Oh, about one o'clock.

A: Well, we all eat dinner about two.

J: Two. How is your appetite?

A: You cannot name anything I do not like to eat.

J: Really?

A: Yes, and I have an appetite for anything. I like vegetables and meat,
but I do not like cat meat. I like any kind of vegetables, cornbread.
I like biscuits in the morning, but I do not want biscuits any more
all through the day. I want cornbread.

J: Well, thank you, Mrs. Aaron. I have enjoyed talking to you. Have a
very good day.

A: Thank you. And you the same.

J: Thank you.

J: Mrs. Aaron, when you went to college, where did you live at when you
were in college?

A: You know where the college is? Buildings three and four stories
high. Bedrooms in the whole thing.

J: So you lived there.

A: Yes. They assigned you to your room to you live in and had a dining
room there that would hold fifty or sixty people.


J: What did it cost you to go there? How much did you have to pay to go

A: At that time, it was seven dollars a month.

J: And how did your parents get the money?

A: My parents were farmers and I mean farmers. Raised stuff and sold
stuff and had the money to give me.

J: Did you have to wear uniforms?

A: Yes, sir.

J: What was it like? What did you have to wear?

A: Blue skirt and white top.

J: How did you do your hair? Were you allowed to fix your hair up in
fancy ways?

A: Yes. Buy a comb and use your own soap. Any way you could and do your
own hair. But some of the teachers talked against that, doing your
hair, but you could do it if you wanted.

J: Why did you go to college? Who made the decision for you to go to

A: My father.

J: Your father?

A: Yes. My father was living then and my mother, too. Raised cotton,
corn, and peanuts and sold them and made money to pay the board.
Which I just told you was seven dollars a month.

J: And that school is in Jacksonville?

A: Jacksonville, Florida, Florida Baptist College.

J: Did your parents tell you about slavery?

A: Yes.

J: What did they tell you about it? Can you remember?

A: Yes, I can remember some of it. They had to get up at 4:30 in the
morning. Get their breakfast and by sunrise be in the field.

J: In the field, did they work all day?

A: Worked until 11:30. A woman would get a little something for them to
eat, and they would go back at one and work until six.


J: Now were your parents slaves or were they owned by somebody else or
were their parents slaves? Did they tell you that?

A: Yes, they were slaves. My mother especially, because she was older
than my father.

J: Oh she was?

A: Yes. She told us that they had to get up and get their little break-
fast, get in the field by sunup. Work until 11:30. Come in, get a
little lunch or something, such as it was, go back to the field and
work until five and six. And people worked then.

J: Did they?

A: Yes. They did not fool around like people do now. They worked. You
cannot get a person to do a day's work now all day. But you could be
tired if you wanted to then but you sure go, go and do that work.

J: Did you have any confrontation with whites?

A: White people?

J: Yes, did you have any problems with them?

A: No. Most all of them we saw was the boss people.

J: And you got along very well?

A: Very well. All you got to do, even today is to mind.

J: That is all?

A: That is the same way it was then. You had to mind, do what they told
you to do. When they told you to do it.

J: And you had no problems?

A: No problems.