Slave Narrative of Narcissus Young

Person Interviewed: Narcissus Young
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Age: 96
Place of Residence: Rear 532 1st Street. No., Nashville, Tennessee

“I’se 96 y’ars ole. Bawn in slavery en mah marster wuz Isham Lamb en mah missis wuz Martha Lamb. Mah mammy d’ed w’en I wuz three y’ars ole en I wuz raised in de house ’til I wuz big ’nuff ter wuk out in de fiels wid de uthers. Mah missis l’arn me ter sew, weav en spin. I also he’lped ter cook en wuk in de house. Atter I got big’er I went ter chuch wid mah white folks en had ter set wid urther slaves in dat part ob de chuch whar nobody but slaves would be ‘lowed. In slavery I’se git no money fer wuk’n but I don’ steal as mah white folks sho gib me en de uther slaves plenty good things ter eat. Clothes good ’nuff fer anybody, candy, en we went ter parties en urther places, en w’at else could I’se wan’?”

“Mah missis l’arned me ter pray, “Now I lay me down ter sleep. I pray de Lawd mah soul ter keep, but if I should die ‘fore I wake, I pray de Lawd mah soul ter tek.” I jined de Primitive Baptist Chuch w’ile young en b’en dere ebe’y since.”

“I member de ole song back dere, “Rock a Bye Baby, Yo Daddy’s gon’ a Huntin’ ter git a Rabbit Skin ter put de Baby in.”

“I wuz whup’d by mah missis fer things dat I ought’n dun, but dat wuz rite. De hahdest whup’in she eber gib me wuz ’bout two hen aigs. I had gathured de aigs in a bucket en tuk dem ter de house en I se’d de big fier in de fier-place so I tuk out two ob de aigs en put dem in de hot ashes ter bake. Mah missis se’d de aigs en axed who put dem dere. I tole her I didunt do hit, but she knowed I did. So she tole me she don’ keer ’bout de two aigs, but dat she wuz gwine ter whup me fer tellin’ a lie. Dey don’t raise chilluns lak dat now.”

“I don’t b’leeve in Niggers en whites ma’rin’ en I wuz raised by de “quality” en I’se b’leeves eber one should ma’rie in dere culor.”

“I think de young peeples ob ter day ez dogs en sluts, en yer kin guess de rest.”

“One day ’bout 12 o’clock we se’d de Yankee soldiers pas’ our house. De missus hid her fine things, but dey don’ kum on de place. All us Niggers run ter de cellar en hid. We found de sugah barrels en we scracht ’round fer sum sugah ter eat.”

“One time de Ku Klux Klan kum ter our house but dey harm nobody. Guess day wuz lookin’ fer sum slave er sum one fum ‘nother plantation widout dere marster’s pass.”

“I se’d a lot ob sta’rs fall one time but dey neber teched de groun’. En I members seein’ a comet wid a long bright shinin’ tail.”

“Atter freedom all de slaves lef’ de plantation but I stayed dere a long time. I kum ter Nashville ovah thurty y’ars ago en I’se wuk’d as cook en house wuk’r twenty y’ars fer one party; eleben y’ars fer ‘nother, en menny y’ars fer ‘nother. I knows you won’t b’leeve me but at one time I weigh ovuh 400 pounds, but now I’m nothin’ but skin en bon’. (She weighs at least 200 pounds now). I bekum feeble en couldn’t wuk out, en eber since den I’se bin kum’ up a mountain, but now I git he’ps by de Social Security.”

MLA Source Citation:

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007. Web. 21 December 2014. - Last updated on Sep 14th, 2012

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