The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins Person Interviewed: Mose Evans Home: 451 Walnut Aged: 76
Radios from half a dozen houses blared out on the afternoon air. Ben[TR:?] Winslow was popular but ran a poor second to jazz bands in which moaning trombones predominated.
At one or two houses a knock or jangling bell had roused nobody. "They's all off at work," a neighbor usually volunteered. But in this block of comfortable cottages fronting on the paved section of Walnut evidently there were a goodly number of stay-at-homes. A mild prosperity seemed to pervade everything. The Walnut section is in the "old part of town". Some of the houses had evidently been built during the 90s; but they were well kept up and painted.
There was evidence here and there of former dependence on wells for water. One or two had been simply boarded over. One, a front yard affair had been ingeniously converted into a huge flower pot. The well had been filled in, its circular brick walls covered with a thick layer of cement. Into this, while still damp, had been pressed crystals. Even in January the vessel bore evidence of summer blooming.
"PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD" admonished the electrified box sign attatched to the front porch of one dwelling. Its border was of black wood. The sign itself was of white frosted glass. Letters of the slogan were in scarlet.
Next doer was another religious reminder. It was a modest pasteboard window card and announced Bible Study at 2: P.M. daily.
Three blocks up Walnut the pavement ends. Beyond that sidewalks too, listlessly peter out. A young, but enthusiastically growing ditch is beginning to separate path from street. Houses begin to take on a more dilapidated appearance. They lean uncertainly.
A colored woman stops to stare at the white one, plants herself directly in the stranger's path and demands, "Is you the investigator? No? Well who is you looking for? Oh, Mose, he's at his son's. Good thing I stopped you. Cause you would have gone too far. He's at his son's. His grandson just done had his tonsils out. He's over there."
The interviewer climbed the ladder-like steps leading to "his son's house". No Mose wasn't there. He had just left. Maybe he'd gone home. The de-tonsiled child proved to be a bright eyed, saddle-colored youngster of three, enormously interested in the stranger. He wore whip-cord jodphurs-protruding widely on either side of his plump thighs-and knee high leather riding boots. Plump and smiling, he looked for all the world like a kewpie provided with a kink ey crown and blistered to a rich chocolate by a friendly sun.
The child eyed the interviewer's pencil. Since, she was carrying a "spare" she offered it to him. He smiled and accepted with alacrity. Later when the interviewer had found Mose and brought him back to the house to be questioned, the grandson brought forth his long new pencil and showed it with heartfelt pride.
On up the street went the interviewer. Arrived at 451 she approached the house through a yard strewn, with wood chips and piled with cordwood. Nobody answered her knock. Two blocks back toward town she was stopped by the same woman who had accosted her before. "Did you find him?" "No," replied the interviewer. "Well he's somewhere on the street. He's a'carrying a cane. You just stop any man you see with a cane and ask him if he ain't Mose Evans." The advice was sound/ The first elderly man coming north was carrying a cane. He was Mose Evans.
"So you-all got together?" called the officious neighbor. "Mose, you ought of asked her-when you see her coming up the street if she wasn't looking for you." "Maybe," said Mose, "but then I didn't know, and I don't want to butt into other folks business" "Huh," snorted the woman, "spose I hadn't butted in. Where'd you be. You wouldn't have found her and she wouldn't have found you!" Both Mose and the interviewer wore forced to admit that she was right-but from Mose's disapproving expression he, like the interviewer, was sorry of it.
"No, ma'am. I ain't been here long. Just about two weeks. You want to talk to me. Let's go on up to my son's house. We'll stop there. I's tired. Seems like I get tired awful quick. Had to go down to the store to get some coal." (He was carrying a paper sack of about two gallon capacity. "Coal" was probably charcoal-much favored among wash women for use in a small bucket-furnace for heating "flat-irons".) My wife has to work awful hard to earn enough, to buy enough coal and wood.
Did I say I'd been here two weeks? I meant I has been here two years. I's lived all over. Came here from Woodruff county. Yes, ma'am. I can't work no more. My wife she gets 2-3 days washing a week. Then she gets some bundles to bring home and do. She got sick, same as me and her brothers come on down to bring her up here to look after. They provided for me too. They took good care of us. Then one of 'em got sick himself, and the other he lost out in a money way. So she's a washing.
Can't remember very much about the war. I was just a little thing when it was a'going on. Was hardly any size at all. I does remember standing in the door of my mother's house and watching the soldiers go by. Men dressed in blue they was. Wasn't afraid of them-didn't have sense enough to be, I guess. Looked sort of pretty to me, dressed all in blue that way. And they was riding fine horses. Made a big noise they did. They was a'riding by in a sort of sweeping gallop. I won't never forgot it.
Guess Confederates passed too. I was too small to know about them. They was all soldiers to me. Folks told me they was on their way to Vicksburg. I heard tell that there was lots of fighting down around Vicksburg.
I was born on a place which belonged to a man named Thad Shackleford. Don't remember him very well. They took me away from his place when I was little. But I never did hear my mother say anything against him. Awful fine man, she said, awful fine man. I had lots of half sisters-5 of 'em and 6 half brothers. There was just one full sister.
Farm? Not until I was 14. Just stayed around the house and nursed the children. Nursed lots of children. Took care of them and amused them. Played with them. But for four, five, maybe six years I helped my mother farm. Went out into the fields and worked.
Then I went to myself. Yes, ma'am, I share cropped. Share cropped up until about 1908. By that time I had got together a pretty good lot and bought stock and tools. Then I rented-rented thirds and fourths. I liked that way lots best. It's best if a body can get himself stocked up.
But let me tell you, ma'am. It's a lot easier to get behind than it is to catch up. Falling behind is easy. Catching up ain't so simple. I sort of lost my health and then I had to sell my stock. After that it was share-crop again. I share cropped right up until 1935. That's when we come here.
Yes, ma'am we moved around a lot. Longest what I worked for any man was 12 years. He was J.W. Hill, the best man I ever did see. Once I rented from a colored man, but he died. Was with him 6 years before another man came into possession. Rented from Cockerill 4 years and Doss 2 years, and Doyle 3 years. But now I's like an old shoe. I's worn out. Been a good, faithful servant, but I's wore out."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives