Mary Kindred

"My mind don't dwell back. The older I gits the lessen I thinks 'bout the old times. I ain't gittin' old. I's done got old. I not been one of them bad, outlawed fellers, so de good Lawd done 'low me live a long time. Some things I knows I heered from my mother and my grandma. They so fresh to them in that time, though, I mostly sure they's truth.

"My mother name was Hannah Hadnot and my daddy was Ruffin Hadnot and he used to carry the mail from Weiss Bluff to Jasper. They waylay him 'long the road in 1881 and kill him and rob the mail.

"Luke Hadnot was our old massa. He good to my grandma and give her license for a doctor woman. Old massa must of thought lots of her, 'cause he give her forty acres of land and a home fer herself. That house still standin' up there in Jasper, yet.

"Grandma used to sing a li'l song to us, like this:

"'One mornin' in May,
I spies a beautiful dandy,
A-rakin' way of de hay.
I asks her to marry.
She say, scornful, 'No.'
But befo' six months roll by
Her apron strings wouldn't tie
She wrote me a letter,
She marry me then,
I say, no, no, my gal, not I.'
"Grandma git de bark offen de thorn tree and bile it with turpentine for de toothache. She used herbs for de medicine and they's good.

"Old missy was tall and slim, a rawbone sort of woman. Her name was Matilda Hadnot. Massa have as big a still as ever I seed and dey used to make everything there. They has it civered with boards they rive out the woods. There wasn't no revenuers in dem days.

"Us gits de groceries by steamboat and the wagons go down the old Bevilport Road to the steamboat landin'. That the Ang'leen River. One the biggest boats was own by Capt. Bryce Hadnot, the 'Old Grim.'

"I 'member back durin' the war the people couldn't git no coffee. They used to take bran and peanuts and okra seed and sich and parch 'em for coffee. It make right drinkable coffee. They gits sugar from the store or the sugar cane. When they buy it, it's in a big, white lump what they calls 'sugar loaf.' When they has no sugar they uses the syrup to sweeten the coffee and they call syrup 'long sweetenin' and sugar, 'short sweetenin'.

"Us has lots of dances with fiddle and 'corjum player. Us sing, 'Swing you partner, Promenade.' Another li'l song start out:

"'Dinah got a meat skin lay away,
Grease dat wooden leg, Dinah.
Grease dat wooden leg, Dinah.
Shake dat wooden leg, Dinah,
Shake dat wooden leg, Dinah.'
I 'members this song:

"'Down in Shiloh town,
Down in Shiloh town,
De old grey mare come
Tearin' out de wilderness.
Down in Shiloh town,
O, boys, O,
O, boys, O,
Down in Shiloh town.'

"I's seed lots of blue gum niggers and they say iffen they bite you dey pizen you. They hands diff'rent from other niggers. Now, my hand's right smart white in the inside, but blue gum nigger hand is more browner on the inside.

"I used to have a old aunt name Harriett and iffen she tell you anythin' you kin jes' put it down it gwineter come out like she say. She have the big mole on the inside her mouth and when she shake her finger at you it gwine happen to you jes' like she say. That what they call puttin' bad mouth on them and she sho' could do it.

"I's had 12 chillen. My first husban was Anthony Adams and the last Alfred Kindred. I only got three chillen livin' now, though. One of the sons am the outer door guard of the lodge here in Beaumont.