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Slave Narrative of James Baker

Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins Person Interviewed: James Baker Location: With daughter who own home at 941 Wade St., Hot Springs, Arkansas Age: 81 The outskirts of eastern Hot Springs resemble a vast checkerboard—patterned in Black and White. Within two blocks of a house made of log-faced siding—painted a spotless white and provided with blue shutters will be a shack which appears to have been made from the discard of a dozen generations of houses. Some of the yards are thick with rusting cans, old tires and miscelaneous rubbish. Some of them are so gutted by gully wash that any attempt at beautification would be worse than useless. Some are swept—farm fashion—free from surface dust and twigs. Some attempt—others achieve grass and flowers. Vegetable gardens are far less frequent then they should be, considering space left bare. The interviewer frankly lost her way several times. One improper direction took her fully half a mile beyond her destination. From a hilltop she could look down on less elevated hills and into narrow valleys. The impression was that of a cheaply painted back-drop designed for a “stock” presentation of “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” Moving along streets, alleys and paths backward “toward town” the interviewer reached another hill. Almost a quarter of a mile away she spied an old colored man sunning himself on the front porch of a well kept cottage. Somthing about his white hair and erectly-slumped bearing screamed “Ex-slave” even at that distance. A negro youth was passing. “I beg your pardon, can you tell me where to find Wade Street and James Baker?” “Ya—ya—ya—s ma’am. Dat—dat—dat’s de...

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