My Remembers: A Black Sharecropper's Recollections of the Depression

My Remembers: A Black Sharecropper's Recollections of the Depression

My Remembers: A Black Sharecropper's Recollections of the Depression

My Remembers: A Black Sharecropper's Recollections of the Depression

Synopsis

In 1929, near Plano, Texas, Eddie Stimpson Jr., weighing 15-1/2 pounds, was born to a 19-year-old father and a 15-year-old mother. The boy, his two sisters and mother all "grew up together," with the father sharecropping along the old Preston Road, the route used by many freedmen trying to escape Texas after the Civil War.

His childhood was void of luxuries, but full of country pleasures. The editors have retained the simplicity of Stimpson's folk speech and spelling patterns, allowing the good-natured humility and wisdom of his personality to shine through the narrative.

The details of ordinary family life and community survival include descriptions of cooking, farming, gambling, visiting, playing, doctoring, hunting, bootlegging, and picking cotton, as well as going to school, to church, to funerals, to weddings, to Juneteenth celebrations.

This book will be of extraordinary value to folklorists, historians, sociologists, and anyone enjoying a good story.

Excerpt

I first became involved with this project in 1990, when I planned to tape oral interviews with Eddie Stimpson, Jr., (known to me as “Sarge”) for a sociological study. One of the chapters which I had researched and written for a book sponsored by the Friends of the Piano Public Library—Piano Texas: The Early Years (Wolfe City, Texas: Hennington Publishing Company, 1985)—was on farming. It was my favorite, but I was painfully aware that it was told entirely from the point of view of the white landowner. I had searched for, but never found, an account written by a black farmer, and I despaired of ever getting another point of view. Getting to know Sarge through work on another project was a fulfillment of my dream, and our work together became a central personal project for me, with many of my family members getting caught up in the excitement of the work.

During a pre-interview session designed to let him know the types of questions I would be asking, Sarge asked if I would like him to write up the material instead. I was surprised, but said that would be fine. Back he came next week with a yellow legal pad covered with writing—no punctuation, no paragraphing, and spelling largely phonetic—but lively and informative, full of the drama and rhythm of his life. We read through it together, Sarge deciphering the words I could not read, and later I typed it up.

For three years after that, the tape recorder was forgotten, and Sarge came by my house on Mondays at 9:00 A.M. unless I was busy or he was going fishing. When we thought we were finished with the story of Sarge’s life, we began going through the whole thing line by line, clarifying, correcting, subtracting a phrase, or adding even as much as a page or chapter, but always careful to maintain the unique style of Sarge’s own way . . .

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