Title: Interview with Andrew Brooks (July 4, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007093/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Andrew Brooks (July 4, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: July 4, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
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: UF00007093
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee 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: LUM 106AB

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Interviewee: Andrew Brooks

Interviewer: Dexter Brooks

Date: July 4, 1973

D: Mr. Andrew Brooks, on the Fourth of July, 1973, in Pembroke,
North Carolina. Mr. Brooks, what day were you born?

B: November 19, 1892.

D: Who were your parents, Mr. Brooks?

B: Sandy Brooks, and my mother was an old time Hunt, old man
Arlan Hunt's daughter, Effy.

D: Where were your parents from Mr. Brooks?

B: Well, right here in this same county and township, Pembroke
Township. My father was born around Bowie, about six or
seven miles from here.

D: What did your father do for a living?

B: Dad was always a farmer. I do not know, he never could
learn how to farm. When I was a boy, when he would get
ready to lay by his corn, he would get a Dixie plow. That
was one that had a big wing on it and it threw dirt. He
would get in that corn field and just bed it out again,
right over the corn. In ten days it would be burnt up to
the ear and it would only make a nubbin, just a small
nubbin. He never could figure it out. He would do it over
and over every year and never did see what the trouble was.
I was just a boy, but I could see what he was doing. But,
he would not let me tell him. He would just get in there
and just bed it out. You could see great a wad of corn
roots on our plow as we plowed it. If you go in your corn
field that late, you are going to ruin it, that is all. You
are not going to help things.

D: Was this a general characteristic of your father?

B: Yes, he never could understand why it was burned up to the
ear. Then, he would have a nubbin. He had ruined it, that
is all. You better not plow your corn when those feed roots
are out; you are not going to make any corn.

D: Would your father listen to other people's advice?

B: He would not listen to anyone.

D: He made up his own mind?

B: He had his own way of doing things. One thing I remember
very clear, I had a brother that killed a little colored
fellow when he was thirteen years old.

D: What was this brother's name?


B: Raymond.

D: I see.

B: But, you could not tell Dad anything. He had his own way of
farming. He would ruin his corn. He could make cotton, but
he could not make corn. He would tear up the roots, the
feed roots that sustain that ear of corn. He would cut them
from the stalk by plowing it. Then, naturally, the corn
would dry up. There would be no green pointer leaves from
the ear down to the ground. Therefore, you would have a
nubbin, that is all. You would not have an ear of corn, he
could never understand what the trouble was.

D: You were speaking something of your brother, Raymond?

B: Well, I stayed with my dad longer than any of the boys did.
Arlan, you remember, his granddad took him away from home
and kept him. I do not remember him staying home at all.
Raymond did not stay long, because he was into trouble all
the time.

D: What sort of trouble developed between he and the colored
man you described.

B: Undoubtedly, in the school house that we built, that was our
church and our school. This is what caused the trouble.
They wanted us to go with the colored people, and we would
not do it.

D: But the Indian people, themselves, had built a building?

B: That is right.

D: With their labor and their materials?

B: No, the county furnished the timber, the boards, whatever it
took to build the building. But, we did the building. I
can remember clearly when we had a place of our own. That
same school house was our church.

D: The colored person in question tried to enter this building?

B: No, they did not. Well, you could not get them to bother
with us, not the colored people.

D: Then what exactly happened between Raymond and the black


B: Well, they followed us out of town throwing rocks. One of
them hit me on the head with a rock, and that is when the
fight started.

D: What town was that?

B: I was six years old, and now I am eighty-two, next November
nineteenth. That has been quite awhile, has it not?

D: Yes, it certainly has. You say these colored boys followed
you out of what town?

B: Rowland. You see we lived about a mile out of Rowland. At
that time, Rowland had not spread out as far as the school
building. It is almost in the center of Rowland now. We
would not have over four weeks of school in the winter-time.
The school teacher got twenty dollars for those four weeks.

D: And that particular school, which is inside the present city
limits of Rowland, was all Indian?

B: That is right.

D: So the colored boys followed you?

B: They followed us out of town.

D: Was there anyone besides yourself and Raymond?

B: Oh yes, there was a gang of us. When one of them hit me on
the head with a rock, then they started fighting. Raymond
thought the colored boy was dead. He went home that night
and crawled under the bed and died, that night.

D: The colored boy?

B: The colored boy died.

D: What did Raymond hit him with?

B: A stick.

D: And the fight broke up?

B: The fight broke up because we thought this little colored
boy was gone, and he did go, that night.

D: You say Raymond, at the time, was thirteen?

B: Yes.

D: Did any trouble with the law develop over it?


B: Yes, Dad had to go to trial. Raymond was nothing but a kid;
they would not have him at a trial. But, dad had to go in
his stead.

D: What was the outcome of the trial?

B: I will never forget. Old man Strong, that ran a blacksmith
shop, I had been to his blacksmith shop many times to get
some work done when I was a boy. We went with Dad and some
of his brothers. They had a trial about this fight and the
colored boy that got killed. That day Raymond picked more
cotton than he had ever picked. He was kindly upset that he
had killed Wally, that was the boy's name. This old man
that ran the blacksmith shop, this Strong, he said, "Sandy,
if you will vote a Democratic ticket, we will clear your
son." My dad said, "I ain't going to vote no Democrat
ticket." He was always a Republican, you know. He would
set down and tell you, half the day, what the Republican
party was going to do for the people. He would not get
tired of telling you what they were going to do. He had a
lot of confidence in the Republican party.

D: Your father had lived through the Reconstruction when the
Republicans were in power, also?

B: Yes, but it never did happen.

D: What race was Mr. Strong?

B: Strong was a white man.

D: Did your father vote regularly?

B: Yes, he did. But Dad would hook his mule to a post in the
yard and he would just about run to Rowland and back. We
lived about a mile from Rowland. He would go in kind of a
trot all the way there and back. He would take that mule
loose and go to plowing again. He did not lose time around
the polls trying to get somebody to vote like he voted. He
did not do that. But, he was faithful to the Republican
party. That was his whole talk, what the Republican party
was going to do for us, some day.

D: Why do you suppose he had so much confidence in the

B: I cannot answer that. I just do not know. He was sold on
the Republicans. They were going to turns things over for
us some day.

D: What about your father's friends, how did they vote?


B: Well, my recollection is that most of them voted a
Democratic ticket, because of this old man Strong that I was
telling you about. He was trying to get Dad to vote
Democratic. If he would vote Democratic, they would free
his son. Actually, they did not hardly have a trial. It did
not amount to much more than killing a dog or something.

D: So, Raymond was acquitted?

B: Yes.

D: Well, was Mr. Strong active in trying to persuade Indians to

B: Yes. If they would vote a Democrat ticket, he was
interested in that. But, Dad never was.

D: What would he do to persuade the Indians to vote Democratic?

B: Well, he would just try and get them to do it. It was only
talk. They did not pay any money, because there was no
money in those days, hardly. I can remember very well, I
would never see any money.

D: Did people think hard of your father because he considered
himself a Republican?

B: I do not think so. Dad was a hard working man and I reckon
they liked to see that. Well, he had to work hard, because
there was a bunch of us children. There were fourteen of us

D: How many boys?

B: Eight.

D: Eight boys and six girls?

B: Right.

D: Were all of these from one woman?

B: Yes.

D: Of this fourteen, where do you come in as far as age?

B: I am about eighth. Let's see, Arlen, Raymond, Ed, and then
there is Mary, Betty and Melinda. Yes, there are six that I
can remember that are above me. Yes, the little girl
Martha, she died when she was ten years old.


D: How would you describe the wealth of your father in relation
to the other Indians?

B: My dad was a little hard to get along with, anyway. He and
I would differ in reaction to quite a few things, but I did
not say anything about it. Dad was very peculiar in his
ways. It seemed to me like a lot of things he did, he
contradicted himself. He would do something that I,
altogether, did not expect him to do. He was just that

D: Would you consider him an intelligent man?

B: Yes, I would say that. He just had his own way of doing
things. Most of the time he would do something that was
contrary to mother's thoughts. He always liked to be on the
opposite side and tell us what to do.

D: Was your mother a strong or weak woman?

B: Mother was a strong, hard-working woman. But, Dad did not
get along too well with mother. He would not listen, you
see. He would get a fight started any time he tried to
force her from her way of thinking. She would get red and
go to fighting.

I remember one morning, we had hooked up the mules and we
were standing there ready to go to plowing. Mother was a
little late with the breakfast and boy! the fight started.
She hit him with an iron fire stick, right on the back of
the head. I could see a trickle of blood back there on his
hair, all day. I know it must have been blood that had
dried on his hair. He was so stubborn, he would not even
wipe it off. Dad was mad. They stayed mad. Mother would
not give in, she was determined in her way of thinking. Of
course, I thought mother was right, dad was wrong. That is
the way I had it figured.

D: What size was your father, physically?

B: Well, he was a pretty big man.

D: How tall was he?

B: Dad was about five-six.

D: You say he was husky?

B: Oh yes, strong. In those days they worked turpentine. He
could carry that bucket that held the turpentine. It
weighed, at least fifty pounds, when they were full. He put
it on his shoulder and carried it to the barrel.


Oftentimes, you would be away from the barrel getting this
turpentine, out of the trees--this box where it would run
down into it, something about the size of a nail keg. It
had a bail on it just like a bucket would have. That thing
would weigh fifty pounds when it was full of this stuff they
got out of those pine trees, this turpentine. He was husky,
all right. He was strong.

D: Who was he working for when he was doing this?

B: Well, he would rent ten thousand boxes, or trees, where you
would get this turpentine. You would rent the trees, just
like you would rent a piece of ground for a farm. That is
kind of hard to think of now. I was brought up right in the
midst of such a thing. You would have a great layout of
trees. The trees are what you were renting.

D: You collected the turpentine, out of the pine tree? What
happened then?

B: Well, they would get so high, you could not reach. You see,
you have to go there every now and then and freshen up that
box by cutting the bark and maybe some of the wood. There
would be about twelve inches across the face of it. We
would call it the face of the tree, the side where you would
cut into the wood. That turpentine would run out when you
made a fresh cut. Then, later on in the fall of the year,
near winter time, it would be coated with a white gum. It
was sticking to the pine tree. You would have to take an
instrument and put a handle in it and push it off. You
would have a box underneath to catch it. When some fell
overboard, you would just pick it up and put it in the box.
Those barrels that held the stuff were bigger than the
ordinary barrels. You would get in it and stomp it. Just
get right up on that and stomp it and pack it. You would
have a barrel of turpentine, it would weigh about five-
hundred pounds. Then, you have got to unload it.

D: How would you move a barrel then?

B: Well, you had a wagon. It had two skids that were fixed.
Two poles, you could put close together, then you would roll
this up in your wagon and then set it up. You could not
pick it up, it was real heavy. It weighed five-hundred
pounds, every bit of it.

D: Once you got it on the wagon, where would you take it to
sell it?

B: You had a turpentine still, close by. So, in three or four
miles you had a still where you would have to haul it. It
almost looked like a cotton gin or corn mill, or something.


You would take it up stairs and dump it into a big hole.
There would be a fire at this place and it would melt that
stuff. Then there was a stream of real turpentine running
all the time; maybe as thick as your finger. Well, I guess
you would have to see this to understand it. I do not know
how to describe all the works and how they got this

D: Where was it located?

B: There was one at Purvis, the biggest one, that I knew about.
That is along side the Coast Line Railroad.

D: Your father, who was living near Rowland, took his
turpentine to Purvis?

B: Well, they had one at Rowland, too. I can remember when
there was one at Rowland and one at Purvis.

D: Who owned the one at Rowland?

B: I really do not know. I do not even know who owned the one
at Purvis. There was a group of men, I think. It would
take a company of men, you know.

D: What kind of men actually operated the still?

B: Well, he has to be an experienced man, in that kind of work.
Just anybody could not do it. When the thing gets all the
gum out, it changes the noise. This man that runs the
still, he would go to where he could hear this noise--where
it was carrying on inside of that thing. He could tell when
he had all the spirits out of this stuff. I do not know how
he did it, but this is the way they did it. They would go
there and hold their ear to it. He could hear it frying and
popping down where they had put this stuff. There was a big
fire underneath it. He was a good experienced man. I have
seen them many a time holding their ear close by and he
could hear it bubbling and rolling in there where that fire
was. He could tell when he had all the spirits out of it.

D: And the men running the still, were they white?

B: No, not always.

D: Would there be black and Indians also?

B: Yes, because nobody would have wanted that job, anyhow.

D: It was hard work?

B: Yes, nasty work.


D: Hard work and nasty.

B: You are darn right. You ever see the clothes you put on?
You could just about stand them up anywhere. I will not
wear such clothes as that. That is the way it happened.
Sometimes, the men would make like an apron and put it on.
That would keep it from getting it on their clothes so bad.
But, if you got it on your clothes, you could just about
stand them up anywhere. That turpentine would make them
stiff. You could just about stand up a pair of pants, I
will tell you. Think about wearing a pair of pants that are
covered with gum; and sticky like that. It is a job that
not too many people want. A barrel of that stuff would be
around four dollars. Four dollars, then, was a lot of

D: What could you buy with four dollars, then?

B: Oh boy! You could get a twenty-four pound bag of flour for
fifty cents.

D: Wow!

B: That is about a good estimation of the way you done it.

D: You said your father was about five-six and husky. What
size woman was your mother?

B: Mother was a little taller than Dad. She was ordinary in
size, and with a temper. Whew! She would fight anybody.
If you would cross her, she was fixing to get in a fight.

D: Do you remember any of your grandparents?

B: Yes. I can remember my dad's mother, Granny Middy. She was
an old Englishman.

D: She was an Englishwoman?

B: Absolutely. I believe she was. I believe she told about
some of her people that she had seen in England. She looked
like a white woman, my dad's mother.

D: Where did she live?

B: Well, right in this area.

D: In what we call the Union Chapel?

B: Well, Rowland and Pembroke areas.


D: What about her husband?

B: I do not remember her husband. I do not remember seeing

D: Did your grandmother live by herself, do you remember?

B: She mostly stayed around her children.

D: Any special ones?

B: Well, I think most of us enjoyed having her around for a
week or two. She never stayed much more than that. She did
not just come and stay. She would spend a week or two,
something like that. Over around Chapel is where her home

D: Did she talk very much about her mother and father?

B: No, she did not. She was living here in the days of the
outlaws. She knows all about the outlaws, everything.

D: Did she ever tell stories of Henry Berry?

B: I remember one that I have always thought of. They had some
good yard dogs, big dogs. One day the people that were
looking for these outlaws, they got close enough to see
them. They lit out for the woods, to hide. The dogs
thought they were after a deer. Here they went for the
woods a running--they howled while they were running. The
dogs were barking, they thought they had a deer going, you
know. That time there were deer here.

But it turned out that the people were looking for them to
arrest them. They were outlaws. When they approached to
where they could see them, they lit out for the woods. The
dogs were barking and when they got to the fence, they just
went right over it. They were in the woods, and that ended
it as we knew about it.

D: At this particular time, did the men pursuing Henry Berry
have any sort of armed engagement? Did anyone get shot?

B: Oh yes. You take Henry Berry, in the days of outlaw, there
were not too many people that would bother them. Because it
was who ever could do the shooting. They did not pick out
one to do it, they killed anybody that was after them.

D: Did your grandmother ever give aid and comfort to Henry
Berry's men?

B: No, I do not think so. Not to my knowledge.


D: How did your grandmother think of Henry Berry? Did she
respect him?

B: Well they all liked Henry Berry. The thing that caused the
outlaws, they tried to force Henry Berry's mother and dad to
tell where they were. So, they could go and pick them up,
arrest them. But they did not know where they were than
they did. They kept hid in the woods. But, these people
looking for the outlaws undoubtedly thought that their
mother and dad could tell them right where they were. I
heard that they killed Henry Berry's mother and dad. I do
not know how true that is. I would not say how true it is,
but I have been told that is what happened.

D: Was your grandmother related to Allen Lowry's family?

B: Yes.

D: What relationship existed.

B: I really do not know their relationship, but they were kin.

D: Did the Lowry family raise your father?

B: Yes, Sink Lowry. Old man Sink, he called him "my Uncle

D: He and Henry Berry were brothers?

B: Well, close relatives, but I do not know just what he was.

D: Did your father ever talk about the killing of Allen Lowry
by the Home Guard?

B: Yes. We used to sit up around the fire and he would talk
about the outlaw days.

D: What were some of the things he would say?

B: Before the thing ended up there were all kinds of colored
people that joined this group; anyone that was in trouble.

D: Was your father present when Allen Lowry was killed?

B: I do not think so. Dad was not too big then, anyway.

D: Allen was killed in 1864, when was your father born?

B: 1864. I was born in 1892, and what I know I heard him sit
down at the fire at night and talk about. That is all I


D: What year was your father born?

B: I believe dad was born in 1861. No, I would be afraid to
say just what year Dad was born. Anyway, he was about
ninety-six when he died.

D: Do you recall any of the stories your father would tell
about Henry Berry?

B: No, I do not too much. There is such a long story about it.
I tell you, you could buy a history. Have you ever seen

D: Yes. What did most of the people of that period think of
Henry Berry?

B: Oh boy! He was a great man, you know.

D: Why do you suppose they looked up to him?

B: Well they think there was a terrible wrong done in killing
his dad and mother. They did not know where they were.
They did not know how to tell them where to go and find
them. They were in the woods scouting and they killed his
mother and dad cause they could not get the information they
wanted. They did not know about them, where they were.
But, they would not have told them if they had known, I do
not think they would.

D: Did Henry Berry ever do favors or acts of kindness for

B: Well, I think he was a very kind man to his own people. He
did not show a bit of that killing that was in him. He did
not show that among his people. He was a great man among
his people.

D: Did he ever kill any Indians?

B: No, not one that I know of. He killed a lot of white

D: What about your grandfather on your mother's side? What
kind of a person was he?

B: You know, I can only remember my mother's dad, John Hunt.
That is about as far back as I can go on that side.

D: What did he do for a living?


B: There was nothing to do but turpentine, then. I doubt if he
worked turpentine.

D: So, you either worked turpentine or farmed?

B: Yes, but I do not think he did that.

D: Did any Indians have, say, a blacksmith shop?

B: I do not know about whether he had a blacksmith shop or not.
I do not remember that. If he did, I did not know. There
was no farming, nothing more than a garden or something.

D: Why was that?

B: I just could not explain it. There was not much farming. I
know that my dad moved to a place and cut up a great big
farm. Maybe a two horse farm. There just were not any big

D: Was the land very swampy?

B: Well, the places around here were. But down around Rowland
there was a lot of land. It was not too swampy, you know.
It was kind of high land. But, you take land around here,
it was swampy.

D: Did any white people have large farms?

B: No.

D: So, most people in Robeson were very poor, including

B: Yes, no question about that.

D: When you were a boy growing up, what sort of foods did you
eat? Did you eat a lot of meat?

B: We had quite a bit of meat.

D: What kind of meat?

B: Well, we raised hogs, so hog meat.

D: Any beef?

B: Yes, you could have a beef to kill every now and then, a
yearling or something. Somebody was always killing one,
going about the country to sell it. On the road in a wagon
or something and a pair of scales to weigh as much as you


D: Who would this man be, someone that killed a beef, he would
do this?

B: Yes, put it on a wagon.

D: Sell it to his neighbors?

B: He would go around the country and sell it right off the

D: But your father raised at least one beef a year.

B: Yes, we would have a yearling or something like that to

D: But you had several hogs?

B: Yes, we had hogs and we had cows, too.

D: A milk cow?

B: Milk cows and that yearling. Especially if it was a male.
We would always have a nice one to kill. If he turned out
to be good stock for a milk cow, we would keep them for the
milk. We would have at least two milk cows.

D: What kind of vegetables did you have.

B: Oh, we would have a garden as usual, like we do now.

D: Would you raise corn?

B: Yes.

D: Peas?

B: Yes.

D: Tomatoes?

B: Yes.

D: Potatoes?

B: Yes, we had a lot of potatoes. You see we could hill up
potatoes in a way that you would have potatoes a long time.

D: What would you have to buy from the store?

B: That was not too much.


D: Your flour?

B: Yes.

D: Did you raise wheat?

B: Well, that did not happen until later years, when there was
a mill where you could take it and get it ground. that was
not in my boyhood days.

D: Did you have a corn mill?

B: Oh, yes.

D: For cornbread?

B: Yes, McCloud's Mill, Baker's Mill, and Gavey's Mill.

D: Could I ask you, since I asked you about foods, what sort of
clothes did you wear as a boy?

B: Mother would make our clothes.

D: What kind of material would she use?

B: Well, I remember one time, and I was ashamed to wear it, but
it was made out of quilts. My father bought me something to
make some pants out of and my mother made them out of it.

D: So, all your clothes were homemade?

B: Yes.

D: How old were you when you got your first store bought pair
of pants?

B: Well, I remember when I was a pretty good sized boy, Sandy
and I traded with an old man in Dillon. Dad traded way down
there at Dillon [South Carolina]. There is an old man
Dillon that the county is named after. There were two of
them, a father and son running this big store that sold
machinery, for farming. But I do not know why dad traded
with him. He would always go to Dillon, twelve miles, to
get his groceries and whatever he needed. That is where he
went to get it.

D: What kind of social activities did you have as a teenager?

B: Well, we had a little of that in the winter time when we had
our school. Other than that we were pretty well occupied
with that farm work. He would cut wood and sell wood. He
would clear this land that we mentioned awhile ago. I am


pretty sure that this place that dad cleared would be every
bit of a two horse farm.

D: Approximately how many acres would that be?

B: Well it would take about twenty acres, maybe a little more
than that for a farm.

D: So, that was around forty acres for two horses?

B: Yes, every bit of forty acres.

D: Who owned the land your father was clearing?

B: Well, old man Dillon probably had a note on it or something.
He was the one letting my dad have it. Dad was renting it.
Dad would never have a settling day, you know. He just kept
staying there and kept working and getting whatever he
wanted from old man Dillon. Something I would never do. I
always said there was going to be a day when I hire to the
man and there is going to be a payday every now and then. I
could not do like my dad. He was just content to stay there
and work and clear land and go to town and get a load of
groceries. I do not believe he ever did settle up. I do
not believe he did.

D: Why did your father eventually leave this particular farm?

B: Well, he got too old to farm. Dad was an old man. He was
every bit of eighty. I remember one day when we were
pulling fodder. He said, "Children, I am fifty years old
today." We were pulling fodder in the field and Dad never
did quit work, he worked right on.

D: How old was he when he quit farming?

B: He was way in his eighties when he quit trying to work.

D: But, how old was he when he left the farm?

B: I hardly know how to estimate it. But he was an old man
even then. It happens that right beyond Pate, there was an
old man, Arlan Oxendine, that owned a pretty good sized
farm. I believe his last farming was with the old man Arlan
Oxendine. I know that I would go there sometime and help
him out on his farm.

D: How many children did he have with him at that time?

B: You see Arlan and Raymond and Ed, the three oldest boys,
they never spent much time at home. I stayed at home until
I was twenty years old. I stayed there and worked hard with


Dad. There was no one else that did. But, Dad was getting
old and he did not have anyone to work. I did it to help
him, that is all.

D: When he was on the Arlan Oxendine farm, what children were
still at home?

B: Sandy, Effy Jane, Margie, Pete and John.

D: And Joe?

B: Yes.

D: So, he still had a large family working then?

B: Yes, he had a large family. Nobody to work but himself and

D: These were young children he had then?

B: He kept Melinda in school most of the time. I helped him
work; I did not get to go to school. I bet you I could not
have cleared the third grade.

D: Could your father read and write?

B: Yes, and mother.

D: How did they learn?

B: I would not know, just took it up, that is all. They never
went to school.

D: Did they teach their children themselves?

B: No, they did not. I did mine, though. I used to have the
"ABCs" up on a wall here and they had to learn them.

D: Your children?

B: Yes. You take Greenus, when he went to school he started in
the third grade. But I learned myself. Somehow, I do not
know how.

D: Did your father encourage his older children to go to

B: No, he encouraged us to work.

D: He hated to see you go then?

B: Yes.


D: What about your mother?

B: Mother had to work too. The old man Arlan, he did not work.

D: Did your mother encourage you to go to school?

B: No. School was not that much when I was coming up.

D: Just learning how to read and write?

B: Yes, that is about all. The teachers that we had, second
grade teachers, they did not know anymore than we did. I do
not think they did.

D: Were they paid by the county?

B: Yes.

D: How much a month, do you know?

B: About twenty dollars a month.

D: Which was a good income.

B: About two months of school that we had.

D: They only worked two months out of the year?

B: That is right.

D: Later on, did your father and mother encourage the younger
children to go to school?

B: There was not much encouraging to go to school. You had to
go to work.

D: You say they encouraged Melinda?

B: Yes. Well now, Dad let Melinda go to college, here in

D: Why do you suppose?

B: I would not know, she was pretty good at learning.

D: She was quick to learn?

B: Yes. I know Melinda came over here and stayed with some of
our people, and went to school. I could write my name and I
could read, but I learned it myself.


D: After your father quit farming, what did he do then?

B: Dad did not live long after he quit farming and working.

D: Where did he live?

B: There is a place over at Ash Pole and Jarington, a little
old swamp, that we lived next to near Jarington. They went
together and then went into the river, the Lumber River.

D: That is way down in the southeastern part of the county?

B: Yes. Well, it is not too far. You know McCloud's old mill
down there. Remember there is an old big mill pond, not too
far from here?

D: In that direction?

B: Yes. I remember when they turned the water off and sowed
that old mill pond over in rice? There was a lot of rice.

D: Did people in this area raise rice at one time?

B: Yes. We raised rice every year; planted it in the bottoms,
in the fields. You see, we did not have too many ditches,
and you had a lot of bottoms to sow in rice.

D: How would you harvest the rice?

B: Well, you had a hook and it had a sharp blade on it. You
would catch a handful of that rice and then you would cut it
off and lay it down. Then you would come back and bundle it
up in a big bundle. Then you would have a threshing machine
come through the country and thresh it.

D: You would take the rice to the threshing machine, then?

B: The people that had those machines would come through the
country with it. Then you would have to get ready whenever
they came around and they would thresh yours out and go on
to the next place.

D: How would you pay them?

B: You could pay toll, or you could pay money, and we did not
have money.

D: You gave them part of your rice?

B: We had to give them some toll.

D: Would the rice come out brown or white?


B: Well, there would be a little shuck on it. You would hardly
ever have a clean grain, just a little shuck on it.

D: What would you do with the rice then, after it came out of
the thresher?

B: Well, you would sack it up if you did not have a box to put
it in.

D: And you cooked it with the shuck on?

B: Yes. Then when you got ready to cook a mess, you would put
it in a big block with a hole chiseled out of the top. You
would put it in there, a handful of rice. And you would
pound it a little and all that husk would come off. Then
when you got it to where you could dip it up and pour it
into a bigger vessel, the wind would carry all that husk
off. They called it "winding rice." You could get it good
and clean. You would pour it into a gallon measure in your
hand and you were catching it in a tub. You could hold it
up high and pour it, and the wind would just blow all that
mess out. That is the way you would clean it.

D: Were you able to market any of the rice?

B: Oh no, we did not make that much.

D: It was all for your own?

B: Yes. That is the only way we got it, was to grow it.

D: Did any of the neighboring families cooperate when it came
to doing any kind of work?

B: No. Everybody was doing for himself.

D: Was there much visiting back and forth between families?

B: I do not remember too much visiting.

D: So, the only contact you had with the children would have
been .

B: We did not have any contact. It was about a mile to the
nearest people, and they were white people. They were rich
white people, they ran a farm. They had some slaves on
their farm, in my day.

D: In your day?


B: They would not leave. They had the same name of their
master, McCloud. Then there were McCloud niggers. I have
seen that in my life time.

D: How old were you when you first realized the difference
between an Indian and a white man?

B: I must have been very small. My dad always rented, and
nobody had anything to do with our farming. We did all our
farming ourselves. When he wanted to plant so much tobacco
in a little spot here, and the rest of it in corn or oats,
he did all that himself. He never had to ask anyone to help
or anything. We always rented. He would always find a
place off to itself and he would rent that place. Some of
them would be poor. That is the way I grew up, we were our
own boss in everything.

D: So, your father avoided other people as much as possible.

B: Yes. He wanted to be big boss, you know.

D: He mastered, he bossed his own children.

B: Yes. He did not boss mother, but he bossed us children.

D: When he was bossing one of the children, did your mother try
to take up for the child?

B: No, she was pretty good about that.

D: You say what incident brought out the fact that there was a
difference between an Indian and a white man?

B: Yes.

D: When did that happen?

B: We never knew what it was to stay on a man's place and work
a sharecrop. We never had that experience at home. Dad
found an old place somewhere and rented the whole thing,

D: By renting, then he just gave the owner a fixed amount?

B: We did everything. He would buy the fertilizer from old man
Dillon and he would ship it to Rowland or Hamer [South
Carolina]. We would go there and haul it home. I remember
going over there when I was young, just a boy. You would
get a cart and my brother and I, we would unload that whole
carload of fertilizer. We put it on the platform.

D: How old were you at the time?


B: I must have been thirteen or fourteen years old.

D: How much did each bag of fertilizer weigh?

B: Two-hundred pounds.

D: And Sandy was how old?

B: I believe there are two or three between Sandy and I.

D: So, he was at least six years younger?

B: Seven or something like that. I was strong when I was
thirteen or fourteen. I could throw a bag of fertilizer
around good.

D: At what age did your brother Raymond leave

B: Actually Raymond, Ed and Arlan, all three of them, as soon
as they were big enough to do anything, they left home.

D: That was at what age? Thirteen?

B: Yes.

D: So, Raymond left right after he killed the .

B: Yes. Raymond left early. Arlan, my brother, granddad
raised him. He stayed at the old man Arlan Hunt's. I do
not know anything about his being brought up at home.

D: How were Raymond and Ed able to make a living after they
left your father.

B: Well, they first worked on the railroad. Brother Raymond
got on the railroad work. I did the same thing; I worked
three years.

D: On the railroad?

B: Yes.

D: Were most of the people working for the railroad Indian?

B: No, most of them were colored. But I was one of the pick of
the gang that I worked with. I was strong and the boss man
would call me a white man. He said, "You are a white man."
I knew I was not, and I never did want to be a white man.
When I went away from here, I would always go along with the
white people. I never had much truck [sic] with doing it.


D: When you were working on the gang, were you the only Indian?

B: When I was in Oklahoma.

D: You worked on the railroad in Oklahoma?

B: Oh no! Rowland was where I worked on the railroad.

D: In Rowland, were you .

B: I have always been an Indian where ever I went. It did not
seem to make any difference in Oklahoma or a lot of places
that I have stayed, it did not make a bit of difference.

D: On the gang you worked, were you the only Indian?

B: Where at?

D: In Rowland.

B: Oh, I was working on the railroad, on a section.

D: Right.

B: The boss man wanted to get me a section and I would not let
him. I would be the boss and everything on it. I said I
did not want a section.

D: Why did you say no?

B: It was too much responsibility. The railroad in those days,
you had to act like a servant or something. They would talk
big to you, the railroad. Even the old man that ran the
depot in Rowland, he shot a man in the depot there.

D: Why did he shoot him?

B: Well, he was just that kind of a man, high tempered. Of
course, I never was afraid of him. I never had any trouble
with him. I would go in there when I wanted to get
something. I would tell him what I wanted and he would do
it, then I would get on out. I did not want to have trouble
with him, because I would have hit him. I would have
knocked him in the nose, just as quick.

D: How did you get along with the blacks who were working on
the railroad?

B: Fine, they all liked me. I got along good with them,
everyone of them.

D: What about Raymond?


B: Raymond, I do not think he ever had much experience working
on the railroad. Raymond went to the chain gang for making

D: This was right after he left home?

B: Yes. He made liquor when he was in the chain gang, for the
boss man. He did not do anything but make liquor for the
boss man.

D: While he was on the chain gang?

B: That is right. He would come home at night, anytime he
wanted to.

D: How long did he stay on the chain gang?

B: One or two years, I do not remember now just how much, but
it was a right good while. That is something that I have
never done, made liquor.

D: Not too many people have made it while they were on the
chain gang, either.

B: Well, Raymond stayed on the chain gang, and made liquor for
the boss man. I tell you, I know about it.

D: What did Raymond do after he got off the chain gang?

B: Raymond left here and went down to Horry County [South
Carolina]. That is way down near South Carolina, somewhere.
I went down there and stayed with him for awhile. Right
about in there is when he killed R. E. Lambert, you see.

D: He killed who?

B: R. E. Lambert. He killed Raymond's wife and then made out
like it was an accident. He and his wife swore that it was
an accident. But, actually he had been trying to go with
Raymond's wife. He knew if she told him--and she was
planning on telling Raymond what he was trying to do--they
plotted to kill her. They killed her so she would not tell

D: Where were they when this happened?

B: South Carolina, someplace, I cannot remember.

D: Was Lambert an Indian, also?

B: He was an Indian. There was not much Indian in him.


D: Was he white or black?

B: Black. You could see it in him. He was not Indian.

D: How was Raymond able to kill Lambert?

B: He carried him away to get a job. Both he and Raymond were
moving from one place to another to get a job. That is the
story that Raymond put to him. They were on a trestle
somewhere or another when Raymond shot him. Raymond planned
to shoot him on this trestle and just push him off. But, he
was able to run and get off of the trestle before he died.

D: What did Raymond do with the body?

B: He just left it right there where that trestle was. I do
not even know what trestle it was. But, this is what
Raymond told me. They both were going from one place to
another to look for a job, that is the way Raymond had it
fixed. But when he got on that trestle, that is where he
told him that he was going to kill him. He just went to
shooting him. He lived to talk after Raymond left.

D: Did he tell who had shot him?

B: Yes.

D: What happened to Raymond then?

B: Well, Raymond came on home. He actually got on the train
and the baggage man put a row of trunks near the corner and
piled them up high. He put Raymond over behind it. He came
from Florida to Rowland like that.

D: So, Raymond ran from the law in Florida back to North

B: Yes. He said there was one place where he got off--this was
before he got behind these trunks--he got off and was going
to walk on through the town and catch the train as it went
by, before it got too fast. He was going to stop short
where he could catch the train as it came by and get on it.
Actually, he had a little old rifle--it was not but that
long--a 30-30 rifle, shot a ball like that. He said that
where he got off one time, somebody came running up there
and it was the law. Back in those days if you were caught
trying to ride the train, they put you in the guard house.
Raymond heard them coming and he just stepped down beside
the area where you walk, next to the railroad. Here come
this fellow running. Raymond said, "Where you going?" They
saw him and his gun. They said, "Nowhere else but right


down here." He cussed and told them they better be going
somewhere else.

I remember when there were people right here in Pembroke and
it was their job to guard the trains to see that no one rode
them. In Oklahoma, in the Hoover days, I have seen whole
families sitting on a train. Everything they had was on
that flatcar with them. They did not bother them, did not
do anything about it. They would get up there and ride
wherever they wanted to go.

D: So, Raymond never had to answer for the killing of Lambert?

B: No.

D: He came back here to Robeson County after the killing?

B: Yes. Twelve years he scouted here. When he went back (he
finally made up his mind to go back and make up his time)
they did not have any record of him.

D: So, he went back to turn himself in?

B: Yes, he did. He turned himself in, says, "I am Raymond
Brooks." There was undoubtedly a record somewhere else and
it finally turned up. But he did not stay there but just a
little while and they turned him loose.

D: Did Raymond kill any other people?

B: We talked about his killing Willey, did we not?

D: Yes.

B: That is all I knew about.

D: They did not do many things like that did they? How old
were you when you got married?

B: I was twenty-one.

D: That was a year after you left your father?

B: Yes. I was twenty-one and Mary was sixteen--in September.
I know the year, but I cannot remember.

D: About 1913?

B: Actually, it was September 1912 when we got married.

D: Were you examined for the army? Did anyone you know serve
in the First World War?


B: No, I never served in the army.

D: What kind of marriage ceremony did you have?

B: Well, a judge of probate married me.

D: So, you and your bride just went down .

B: Bought the license and filled them out right there.

D: In South Carolina?

B: Yes, and the judge of probate married us in Dillon.

D: How did you meet your wife?

B: We grew up together. She was six years old and I was about
seven. We went to school together. We courted about all
our lives, then got married.

D: So, when you were with your father, every chance you got...

B: Well, when I could get away from home, but that was not too
often. Dad would have a job for you.

D: How would you travel, walk?

B: Walk, yes.

D: You did not have any horses?

B: Yes, we had a horse. Dad had a horse and a couple of mules.
But, I did not borrow them for that.

D: Did he keep his horses strictly for .

B: I remember when those western horses were sold at auction
here. They bid them off. They had a bunch of western
horses here. Do you remember that time?

D: No, I do not.

B: Anyway, after the war, they had any amount of these horses
all over the country and they would have a sale. An
auctioneer would sell them off. I bought a horse that was
kind of orange-gray. He weighed fourteen hundred pounds. A
regular pet. My children and old lady would rub him and pet
him everyday out there at that lot. He would hold his head
almost to the ground and they would rub him and play with


D: Were they sold by the government?

B: Yes, by the government. I paid seventy dollars for this
horse and that was a good horse; a regular old pet.

D: When people got married in those days, did they just go over
to Dillon?

B: They did not have to. I remember a time when you would go
over there, you did not even have to buy a license.

D: In Dillon?

B: Yes. A judge of probate would marry you.

D: Why would you go to Dillon, why not Lumberton?

B: Well you would have to go to the clerk of court here if you
got married.

D: Why did you not go to the clerk of court?

B: Well, we had to kind of run away. See, Mary was real young,
sixteen, we could not have married here at the clerk's
office. She was not sixteen yet.

D: So she was under age for you.

B: You had to be eighteen, you know.

D: What did you do after you got married, what kind of job?

B: Well, I worked on the railroad three years. Then I used to
fire the saw mill down on the swamp here. I believe that is
about all the different jobs I had. It was not too long
before I went to Oklahoma with the government, the Indian

D: As a young man, was there any sort of way a man could show
his strength? Were there any games men played, wrestling

B: Well, I have taken a course under a strong man, Earl
Liederman and had a couple of pictures made.

D: Where did you take the course?

B: It was a written course.

D: How old were you?


B: He gave you an exerciser. Actually it was about that long
and there were ten strings--rubber with a string in it,
there were ten on this thing. Four or five of them was
about all you could do the first time you tried--pulling it
out like that. You could just about tell when to put on the
next string.

D: How old were you when you took this course?

B: I was pretty young. I do not remember just how old I was,
sixteen or seventeen. I won a gold medal and a diploma and
was eighth in a world contest.

D: How did they conduct the contest?

B: Well, you would have to write and send them your
measurements. You would have to tell him how many of those
coils you could pull. After awhile, I could stick the ten
on it and pop them right out.

D: What about your father, did he ever try?

B: No.

D: Any of your brothers?

B: Now, he bought me this course, it did not cost me anything.

D: Did any of your brothers try?

B: No.

D: Neighbors?

B: No, because a man that had never tried it would not have
much interest. To me, it was almost my life, then. You
could take five of them and when you pushed it out, you had
the pressure of 1000 pounds. You can get some knots on your
back and arms--your old muscles jump up like a frog who has
jumped. It is the best thing a man has ever done, to take a
physical culture under a man with great big old knots all
over his back, great big old muscles. It is kind of
interesting to me, I like it.

D: Did men test each other in tests of strength?

B: No. This thing that you stretched out, when you pushed out
like that, you had 1000 pounds. If you had six cables, you
had 600 pounds, when you had eight cables you had 800
pounds. When you got where you could push the whole
business right out, that was 1000 pounds of resistance.


D: A man's strength was something to be proud of.

B: You are mighty right. This exerciser with those ten coils
on it, that was the thing that did the testing. All you
would do it tell him how many you could pull out and he
could tell you when you could put on another string.

D: Did you ever have the occasion to test your strength against
other young boys or men in the neighborhood?

B: Oh yes, I was tops in that. There was no one in this

D: What kind of tests would you have?

B: We pulled heavy set.

D: What is that?

B: You remember. You sit down flat on the ground and put your
feet together, like that. Then, one would try to pull the
other one up.

D: You would sit on the ground facing one another?

B: He was the one that won. I got hold of this one nigger and
his arms must have been that much longer than my arms. And
his legs were very long. He was tall and skinny. He was a
man; he pulled me right up.

D: How much taller than you?

B: Well, he was a good bit taller than I was.

D: Did you try any other tests of strength with this particular

B: No, I did not.

D: How did you come across this particular person?

B: Well, we just happened to meet.

D: Where were you when you met?

B: Right here in the community. He pulled me up pretty easy.

D: Did you ever see this man again?

B: Never did see him again.

D: What were some of the other tests of strength?


B: Well, I do not remember but about one thing. Dad used to
clear up a lot of new ground. We would take some nice logs
and roll them together to burn them. When they were not too
close to the fire, we would have to take them and carry
them. Maybe a couple of men right in the middle, and then
at each end there would be two men with a stick underneath
it one on that side and the other one on the other. We
would take up a great big old tree and carry it to that fire
and put it on to burn. Some of the prettiest timber you
ever saw, we burned it up in the woods, clearing the land.
Old man Mavis Locklear, I have taken a stick the size of
him. Boy, he was a man; he was strong as a mule.

D: Was he stronger than you?

B: Yes, he was stronger than I was.

D: Is he larger?

B: Yes. Then there was another old man, "Big Frank" Jacobs.
Did you know him?

D: I have heard of him.

B: He was a man. I have pulled logs aside of him. There was
nobody else that could do anything with him but talk. I
would get aside of him, but he was better than I was. I
knew he was stronger, but I would come up with my side of
the log, just like him. He was a man, old man Frank Jacobs.
He was one of the best men that I ever knew.

D: Did the men wrestle any?

B: I never did do much wrestling.

D: Did they box?

B: No. You find that in Oklahoma. Boy, they love to box out
there. I used to have a friend, I took him to Sunday school
with me every Sunday. One morning, I went to pick him up to
take him with me to Sunday school and he had black knots all
over his face and forehead--just as blue, all beat up. I
said, "What in the world happened to you?"

D: Did you carry your wife out to Oklahoma?

B: No, I never did.

D: So, you did not see her for four years?


B: No. I stayed four years, but I came home once or twice a

D: You traveled in a train?

B: Yes. I would come home. One time, Chestly went out there.
He had two or three people with him; I forget now just who.
But Venus was staying here, with Mary and the children,
going to school. It did not cost him anything to stay here.

D: So, you had grown children?

B: Yes, Emmy, Betty and Ward.

D: Did any of your brothers continue on in school?

B: No.

D: Your brother Joe, you said that you helped him get a job in

B: He was a politician.

D: When did he get involved in politics?

B: He has always been a politician, as a kid.

D: What do you mean by that?

B: He was a Democrat and a politician with that.

D: He was a Democrat and your father was a Republican?

B: Yes. I was nothing. I did not vote.

D: When did Joe start voting?

B: Joe started early. You see, Joe went to Washington when he
was a kid, and he has been there ever since.

D: What were some of the things Joe tried to accomplish through

B: I do not remember anything he ever accomplished. He got a
kick out of just being in it.

D: What were some of the things that he would do?

B: Well, you were not here during the Indian movement?

D: No.


B: Well, there was old man Aaron Locklear and there were two
other fellows. They wanted to get more money than we could
ever spend. The government was going to pay us off and that
worked. They ran that thing, I do not know for how many
years. The government owed us a lot of money and we were
going to get paid off. Craziest thing I ever heard tell of.
I would not have anything to do with it. My Dad would not
have anything to do with it.

D: Did these people also register to vote like Joe?

B: You only had to be a certain age to vote. Sometimes a man
going to the Senate or Raleigh, he had a special election or
something like that, you would have to register a few weeks
beforehand. Otherwise, just being in the county, you were
eligible to vote see.

D: Did Indians have any trouble voting?

B: No, not here, we always could vote. Most of them were
Democrats, you know. That fixed it; they did not have to be
anything else.

D: What years was your brother Joe running the Indian movement?

B: Well, I do not know how many years he was in that. He was
in that several years.

D: How did he live while he was doing it?

B: Well, he was in Washington this whole time.

D: Where would he get his money?

B: Well, he would come back here and he would have appointments
and meet with different people.

D: Why did he get out of the Indian movement?

B: I think they ran it into the ground. People got tired
listening to it. They never did get any payday, you know,
they kind of gave it up.

D: So, the people could not see any results.

B: No, it just did not happen.

D: Do you know anything about the Redbanks Settlement?

B: No, I do not.


D: Did any Indians from other areas come into Robeson during
the Indian movement.

B: No, I do not know of any. In fact, I never had too much to
do with it. I did not take it for much. I used to think
that my Dad was crazy for not jumping right into it and
helping out--paying a little money every now and then. I
thought he was kind of foolish or that he was going to be
left out of everything. It turned out he was right.

D: This was when Joe initially got in it and was trying to
persuade you and your father?

B: Yes. I have never had confidence in it. I did not go to
the meetings and I did not see anything in it.

D: In other words, Joe was trying to establish some kind of a
reservation here in Robeson?

B: Yes, some kind of Indian movement. I was always on the

D: But you always voted?

B: No, I could vote, but I did not.

D: Why was that?

B: I just did not want to have anything to do with it.

D: Well, you did not feel that it was worthwhile?

B: I just could not fix my mind to get in it. Talking about
the government giving me a lot of money, I could not see it.
Those people out in Oklahoma, that is the way they always
were carried along, I was out there, I know how it is in
Oklahoma. They never did get any pay-off and they were on a

D: How would you compare the people here to the Indians in

B: Well, I could not live under their kind of rule. If the
government is feeding me and clothing me, I cannot see how I
have got to take an order from a white man. Some white
man's store and he buys the things at this store, and that
is the way I am getting it. I never did like for a man to
write me an order. If he owes me money, I want him to give
me some money. But they just write on a little piece of
paper. You could take that and you might get some welfare.
I have never gone to welfare. I have never been to them for


anything. Now, when I had a house full of children, I did
not go to them for anything.

D: You felt that you could work for anything that you needed.

B: Right. I have always had a job running a crane. I did not
need to go anywhere. I had a payday every week. About the
lowest I ever worked for was $2.75 and hour. From that
there was $3.50 an hour. I did not need anything they had.
They probably would not have taken me on. It would not have
been much credit to me, making the money I was making, to go
and get a job that some of these poor fellows needed. I
looked at it that way.

D: When was the first time that you know of that an Indian ran
for some kind of political office?

B: That has only been lately. They got more active in the
Democratic party nowadays. More than they used to. There
are not too many Indians that get the privilege of doing
that. You have got to be a kind of a servant to this
Democratic party. Then you are not going to get too far.
You are not going to get into anything that will pay-off
actual money. I have never seen anything about it that
interested me.

D: How long have you lived in Pembroke?

B: Ever since Venus was born, 1955? No, that is when he died.

D: In about 1913.

B: When Mary and I got married, September of 1912, that is when
I bought this place. It cost me $4200 to build this old

D: Did Pembroke have a town government at that time?

B: The offices here in Pembroke were appointed from Raleigh,
for a long time, I remember that.

D: Was that true of the other towns?

B: Yes. If you held any kind of position in this town affair,
you were appointed from Raleigh.

D: Who were the officers, were they Indians or white or what?

B: Well, they were Indians, but the white man was in the lead.

D: A white man was the mayor?


B: No, I do not remember a white man being mayor here. Some
Indian would have it, someone loyal to this white man. It
always made me mad to think about the way the whole town
situation was carried on. It has not been too long since
Sonny was mayor of the town. He is still mayor of the town.
I do not know how many years he has been in there.
Undoubtedly he stands pretty good with them. But, all the
business of appointing men to run the town is from Raleigh.
That did not suit me, at all. I just did not have anything
to do with it. That does not make sense, does it?

D: No, it seems they felt like the people did not have any
business governing themselves.

B: That is right.

D: When you were a boy, did you say your parents were

B: Yes, old man Sandy Brooks was very religious.

D: And your mother, also?

B: Yes.

D: They attended church every Sunday?

B: Yes.

D: They required their children to go?

B: Yes, but I did not go. I did not come up among them. For
years I have been associated with the Brethren. The
Brethren are about in every town in the country. They do
not have to be in the affairs of the town. I have known the
Brethren for a long time.

D: Do the Brethren not get involved in politics.

B: They do not get involved with politics. I used to think
about Arlan Hunt, they are the ones that just about ran
everything at this church. When they would vote, the poll
was opened and they were right there. They ran that part of
it. I do not see how a man can run politics and a church.
It does not go together for me.

D: As a kid, were people superstitious?

B: I do not know too many that were superstitious. There used
to be plenty of it.

D: What were some of the superstitions?


B: I really could not answer that. I used to think that a man
that is superstitious, he was a little short. Like they say
in Oklahoma, "You lack a little bit of what I lack a whole
lot of."

D: Did you hear anyone call a person a witch?

B: A witch? I think it used to be practiced way back yonder in
my early boyhood days. I heard my mother and dad talk about
it. They know somebody that would get up in the morning and
under their fingernails there would be clay. Somebody had
rode them all night long. That is the kind of talk I heard
my parents talk, you know.

D: What about root workers?

B: Oh yes. They had plenty of that. There was an old colored
man that lived right down the road here a little ways, old
man Tommy Blue. Then old lady Cuss, she lived down there in
Black Ankle. You know where Black Ankle church is? Well,
there is a little store not too far from there. You
remember Curtis' store?

D: Vaguely, I have been there twice, I guess.

B: Well, old lady Cuss lived there at that store. She would
walk from there down to old man Tony McCoy's to get a little
bowl of something or other fixed up. She would put that
thing in her pocket and go back. I do not know what was in
it. I did not want to know. I was not afraid of it. I
told him one day he could do as he pleased, as long as he
did not give me anything to eat. Anything else he wanted to
do, just help yourself.

D: What did he say?

B: Laughed. Because I did not believe he could do anything to
me, you know. I was not that silly. I know you have got to
get something in me, not something for me to step over or
something like that. I would not mind stepping over
whatever he could put down. Old lady Cuss would walk from
that Black Ankle clear up there to old man Tony. I have
seen her laying in the door, just exhausted walking up here.
She was an old woman and she would walk from down there to
here. It did not make sense to me. I did not like that. I
was not crazy, I knew that I was kind of off, but not that
far off.

D: What about funerals? When a person dies, what kind of
ceremony did people have?


B: We do not have anything like that. One of our best
preachers would preach the funeral. He did take his Bible
and read the chapter, maybe have just a few words to say
about him. But, he is really going to preach about the
chapter he read.

D: The Brethren?

B: Yes. We have got Charles Oxendine. To me, he is about as
good a preacher as there is among us. But there is some of
them that rate way higher than Charles does. But, I like
the way Charles preaches. We got some big shots in our
meetings, preaching. I do not care too much about those big

D: What about other people, when you were a boy, I mean, do you
recall the first funeral that you attended?

B: No. Charles preaches if any of our people die. He does
most of the preaching. Mike Brooks is another good
preacher. I believe he is going to be another Venus. I
believe he will be just as good if not better than Venus.
Venus was a good preacher.

D: But, as a boy you do not recall going to funerals? How old
were you when your mother died?

B: My mother, she died somewhere along in 1966 or 1967. My dad
lived for a long time after.

D: He died in 1943?

B: Maybe it was 1943. I know he was way up there around

D: What did your mother use for home remedies, for medicines?

B: She always would go in the woods and get some kind of roots
to chew. I do not know what they were. I never did want
to know. I did not believe in just some of her old beliefs.
She had a lot of them. She had a lot of remedies. She
could go into the woods and get it. You would see her
chewing roots. They never did latch on to me. I did not
like it.

D: Did she ever mix any kind of liquids?

B: Tea, she would make a tea of roots.

D: A root tea?


B: And bark. No, none of that worried me. Not a bit. I have
not been sick since the flu killed so many people and that
has been a long time ago.

D: A certain kind of Asian flu?

B: Yes, they called it London flu, did they not?

D: I caught the Asian flu, back in the 1950s.

B: No, but there was a London flu that was real bad.

D: In other words, you had never experienced sickness until?

B: I did not have any sickness since way before all of those
people were killed by the flu. I have not been sick since.


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