The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Back in the 1930s and early 1940s, everybody gambled. The colored people had two games they played with cards. They shot dice, of course, but they played Pitty Pat and Cooncan. I never saw them play Cooncan and I don't know how they played it. I saw them play Pitty Pat.
I remember seeing Cassie Sessions' brother, Hal Hunter and Bass McIntyre playing Pitty Pat. They were sitting out in the weeds in back of the stores between this house and the stores up town. I was a little ole boy and I went out there and watched them. They played a nickel a hand. Bass finally beat Hal and won all his nickels.
I can just hear Hal walking up and down this street. He worked around the Coneys place, down there by the school. He was always going to town to get groceries and to get the mail. He was crippled and wore big ole rubber boots.
Hal wore those boots in the winter and in the summer. You could hear him coming down the street, flip-flop, flip-flop. He'd have an old pipe in his mouth and he'd be going and coming to town. He was a busy man.
Aunt Alice Jenkins worked for the Coneys. She took care of Billy when he was born. I've seen her walk down this street a many a times during those years. She would be going to town and coming back.
Aunt Alice was always packing that baby [Billy Coney] on her hip and she was always humming. When Billy was about 2 or 3 years old, he had long, gold curls.
Aunt Alice was 100 or 101 years old when she died. The last few years of her life, she lived with her son, Harry.I've heard some colored people refer to Aunt Alice Jenkins as Aunt Alice Miller. She must have been a Miller before she married.
Old man Harry Jenkins had a horse and plow. He would plow and break up people's gardens for them in the spring. He broke up one of the last gardens I had. Harry was still living in 1975. I think he died about 1977 or 1978. He was an old, old man.
(LtoR) Alice "Old Soul" Jenkins, Harry Jenkins, Harry's wife
Cassie Sessions lived to be way up in her 90s. She moved to Clayton the last year or two of her life. I stopped by there one day to see her. She seemed so glad to see me. She was sitting up in the bed and her hair was just snow white. When she saw me she said, "Lord have mercy, there's Son!"
I told her I'd be back to visit again. I didn't make it the next week but I went over there the following week. It was around Christmas time. I brought her a fruit cake, apples, oranges and some bananas from the store. I didn't get an answer when I knocked on the door. Her step-daughter came walking around the house and said they buried Cassie the week before.
I had waited too long to see her that one last time.
|Allye and Bruce Edmonds|
I remember an old colored woman named Aunt Carrie Harper. She was a midwife. The colored people used Aunt Carrie when they had a baby. They usually didn't call on the doctor. Aunt Carrie was the midwife for a lot of white people, too. Even if they had a doctor there, they would have Aunt Carrie there as well.
I've heard my mother and daddy say it was two old colored women who worked for them about the time I was born. One was named Aunt Jennie and the other was Aunt Cynt. I think Aunt Jennie might have been the one who cooked for my mother and daddy. One of her sons was named Milton Williams. We called him Judge. Aunt Cynt was Willie "Blue" Cooper's grandma. I don't remember either one of the women. I just heard my mother and daddy talk about them.
I remember Aunt Hester Robinson. One of her son's is Frazier Robinson. He's still living on the Island today. Frazier must be eighty years old.
Aunt Elvira Smith was Alf Jones' aunt. She left her house to Alf and Lula. I can remember seeing her husband, Henry Smith, sitting in a rocking chair out on the front porch of the house. I saw Aunt Elvira a many a time.If Alf was still living, he'd be about 105 years old and Aunt Elvira was his aunt! If she was still living, it's no telling how old she would be.
As I make these tapes and begin naming some of the old colored folks who once lived on the Island, maybe someone will hear a name they hadn't thought of in a long time. A lot of people have already forgotten Dorse Kent.
|Circa 1920 - (LtoR) - Dave Cooper, Dorse Kent, Andrew Organ, Willie Williams, Aust Green, Harry Parker, Green Kent|
Dorse worked for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Peniston. He called Mrs. Georgia Westbrook Peniston, Mrs. West. He worked for the Penistons for years and years.
|Nita and William Peck|
Uncle Buddy White milked the cows on the Peck place. He had all the calves named. I had heard people talk about it so one day when I was down there visiting my Aunt Nita and Uncle William, I walked over to the old Peck house to see Uncle Buddy.
There would be about twenty calves out there and he'd call one of their names and only one would come to him. I saw that with my own eyes. Many people talked about it but I actually watched him do it.
Uncle Buddy's wife, Elizabeth, was a big, tall lady. They had a couple of girls and three boys. The three boys were named, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham's wife, Addie Lee, was a niece to Dorse Kent. Dorse and Addie Lee's mother were brother and sister.
Bass McIntyre's wife, Candace, was a cook for Mrs. Gladys Saltzman from the time I was a little boy. Mag Abrams also helped out the Saltzman family. She cleaned house and washed clothes. Buck Thomas was the Saltzman's yard man.
I remember Crippled Charlie and his wife, Lucy. They had a whole bunch of children. Every so often Lucy would jump on Crippled Charlie and beat him good. They lived over on one of the streets behind the Methodist Church.
There was an old colored man, I believe his name was Uncle Gene. He lived out in a little house in Dr. Gordon's backyard. He worked for the Gordons for many years. He did things like milk the cows, worked around in the house, and even helped Cousin Eva Gordon cook. Uncle Gene lived to be an old, old man.
|Old Gordon home site behind Methodist Church and across from the post office|
I had almost forgotten about Uncle Gene. If I hadn't been making these tapes, I doubt I would have mentioned or thought of him. In a few more years he would have vanished from my memory.
I've got it down here on tape now so that someone can remember these old colored people.
Photographs of Billy Coney and the Jenkins family are courtesy of Kendell Coney Horton.
Note: Parts 1-24 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of this blog.