Interviewer: W. W. Dixon
Person Interviewed: Delia Thompson
Location: South Carolina
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“I’s heard tell of you, and sent for you to come to see me. Look lak I can no more git ’bout on dese under pins lak I use to. Dere’s de swing you can set in or chair right by me, now which you rather? I’s glad you takes de chair, ’cause I can keep steady gaze more better on dat face of your’n. Lord! I been here in dis world a long time, so I has. Was born on de Kilgo place near Liberty Hill, don’t know what county ’tis, but heard it am over twenty-five miles from dis town.
“My old marster name Jesse Kilgo, so he was, and Mistress Letha Kilgo, dats his wife, good to him, good to me, good to everybody. My young mistress name Catherine, when her marry Marster Watt Wardlaw, I was give to them for a housemaid, ’cause I was trim and light complected lak you see I is dis very day a setting right here, and talking wid you. ‘Members how ’twas young missie say: ‘You come go in my room Delia, I wants to see if I can put up wid you’. I goes in dat room, winter time mind you, and Miss Charlotte set down befo’ de fire, cook one of them pretty foots on de dog, don’t you ketch dat wrong, dat it was a lap dog which ’twasn’t but one of de fire-dogs. Some persons calls them andy irons (andiron) but I sticks to my raisin’ and say fire-dogs. Well, she allowed to me, ‘Delia, put kettle water on de fire’. So I does in a jiffy. Her next command was: ‘Would you please be so kind as to sweep and tidy up de room’? All time turnin’ dat lovely head of her’n lak a bird a buildin’ her nest, so it was. I do all dat, then she say: ‘You is goin’ to make maid, a good one!’ She give a silvery giggle and say: ‘I just had you put on dat water for to see if you was goin’ to make any slop. No, No! You didn’t spill a drop, you ain’t goin’ to make no sloppy maid, you just fine.’ Then her call her mother in. ‘See how pretty Delia’s made dis room, look at them curtains, draw back just right, observe de pitcher, and de towels on de rack of de washstand, my I’m proud of her!’ She give old mistress a hug and a kiss, and thank her for de present, dat present was me. De happiness of dat minute is on me to dis day.
“My pappy name Isom then, but when freedom come he adds on Hammond. His pappy was a white man, and no poor white trash neither. My mammy name Viny. Us live in a log house close up in de back yard, and most all time I was in de big house waiting on de white folks.
“Did us git any ‘ligion told us? Well, it was dis way, mistress talk heap to us ’bout de Lord, but marster talk a heap to us ’bout de devil. ‘Twist and ‘tween them, ‘spect us heard most everything ’bout heaven and all ’bout de devil.
“Yankees dat come to our house was gentleman, they never took a thing, but left provisions for our women folks from their commissary.
“My first husband was Cupid Benjamin. My white folks give me a white dress, and they got de white Baptist preacher, Mr. Collins to do de grand act for us. Cupid turned out to be a preacher. Us had three chillun and every night us had family worship at home. I’s been no common nigger all my life; why, when a child I set up and rock my doll just lak white chillun, and course it was a rag doll, but what of dat. Couldn’t I name her for de Virgin Mary, and wouldn’t dat name cover and glorify de rags? Sure it would! Then I ‘sociate wid white folks all slavery time, marry a man of God and when he die, I marry another, Tom Thompson, a colored Baptist preacher. You see dat house yonder? Dats where my daughter and grandchillun live. They is colored aristocracy of de town, but they has a mighty plain name, its just Smith. I grieve over it off and on, a kind of thorn in de flesh, my husband used to say. But both my husbands dead and I sets here twice a widow, and I wonders how ’twill be when I go home up yonder ‘bove them white thunder heads us can see right now. Which one them men you reckon I’ll see first? Well, if it be dat way, ‘spect I’ll just want to see Cupid first, ’cause he was de only one I had chillun by, and them his grandchillun out yonder.”