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. . ‘ 22 The Texas Observer Slavery time Information for Researchers, Nostalgia Buffs, ill; Observer Fans Microfilm: For price information regarding the microfilm editions of the Texas Observer backfile, please write to Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Bound Volumes: The 1973 issues of the Texas Observer are now ready. In maroon washable binding, the price is $12. Also available at $12 each year are volumes for the years 1963 through 1972. Back Issues: Issues dated January 10, 1963 to the present are available at 50c per issue. Earlier issues are out of stock, but photocopies of articles from issues dated December 13, 1954 through December 27, 1962 will be provided at 50c per article. Index Supplements: The 1971, 1972, and 1973 paperback supplements are provided at no additional charge to those who purchase the cumulative index at $10. Subscribers who do not want the cumulative index may purchase any of the supplements separately. The cost is 50c for each year. Cumulative Index: The cloth-bound cumulative edition of the Texas Observer Index covering the years 19541970 may be obtained for $10. Address your order \(except for Business Office. Texas residents please add the 5% sales tax to your remittance. Materials will be sent postpaid. THE TEXAS OBSERVER W 7 AUSTIN. 78701 THE SLAVE NARRATIVES OF TEXAS Edited by Ronnie C. Tyler & Lawrence R. Murphy Encino Press, 143 pp. $7.95 Austin These short interviews originally were collected in the late Thirties as part of the Federal Writers Project. They’ve never before been printed, but now, thanks to Bill Witliff and the Encino Press, the narratives have been done up in fine style, with photos of some of the former slaves and an appendix telling a little about each person interviewed. As the editors themselves point out, it’s hard to know exactly how seriously to take this early attempt at oral history. The interviewers were white government employees. Did their color and affiliation influence the blacks’ answers? Portable tape recorders didn’t come along until the late Forties. Did the interviewers use shorthand? Did they reconstruct the dialogue after the fact? The editors warn, “In the cases where these Negroes tell fascinating tales of slavery, they probably are repeating incidents told them by older slaves rather than relating their own experience. There is also the possibility that they fabricated their own stories.” Still, most of these narratives ring genuine. Some of them are so off the wall, so bizarre, they have to be true. Take, for example, Martha Spence Bunton who, seeing her first norther, thought it was “rabbits, because we’d never seen a rabbit then.” There were good masters and evil ones, pleasurable times and a whole lot of misery. Most of the slaves seem to agree on shoes were a sore trial for everyone. The narratives are presented according to themes which include masters, the necessities of life, the work, runaways, glimmers of joy, superstitions and religion, the Civil War and freedom. These little snippets from the past are compelling, evocative, giving one the taste, the smell and the feel of Texas more than a hundred years ago. A sampling follows. SPENCE JOHNSON “The nigger stealers stole me and my mammy out of the Choctaw Nation up in the Indian Territory when I was about three years old. … The nigger stealers drove up in a big carriage and mammy just thought nothing, because the ford was near there, and the people going on the road stopped to water their, horses and rest awhile in the shade. By and by,, a man coaxed the two ‘biggest’ children.;: into the carriage and gave them some kind of candy. Other children saw this and went too. Two other men were walking around smoking and getting closer to mammy all the time. When he could, the man in the carriage got the two big step-children in with him, and me and sis climbed in, too, to see how come. “Then the man hollered, ‘Get the old one, and let’s get away from here.’ With that the two big men grabbed mammy, and she fought and screeched and bit and cried; but they hit her on the head with something and dragged her in and threw her on the floor. The big children began to fight for mammy, but one of the men hit them hard and off they drove, with the horses under the whip. “This was near a place called Boggy Depot. They went down the Red River, crossed the river, and on down in Louisiana to Shreveport. Down in Louisiana we were put on what they called the ‘block’ and sold to the highest bidder. My mammy and her three children brought $3,000 flat. The step-children were sold to somebody else. . . . ” SILVIA KING “Old marse was going to feed you and see that your quarters were dry and warm or know the reason why. Most every night he went around the quarters to see if there was any sickness or trouble. Everybody worked hard but had plenty to Sometimes the preacher told us how t&get to heaven and see the ring lights there. “The smokehouse was full of bacon sides and cured hams and barrels of lard and molasses.,When a nigger wanted to eat, he just asked and got his passel… . “There was spinning and weaving cabins, long with a chimney in each end. Us women spinned all the thread and wove cloth for everybody, the white folks, too. I was the cook, but sometimes I hit the spinning loom and wheel fairly good. We bleached the cloth and dyed it with barks. “There was always a big woodpile in the rear, and the big, caboose kettle for rendering hog fat and beef tallow for. candles and making soap. Marse always had the niggers take some apples and make cider, and he made beer, too. Most of us had cider and beer when we wanted it, but nobody got drunk. Massa would sure cut us if we did. “Marse sure was a fool about his hounds and had a mighty fine pack. The boys hunted wolves and panthers and wild game like that. There were lots of wild turkeys and droves of wild prairie chickens. There were rabbits and squirrels and we made Indian pudding, made of cornmeal. It was real tasty. I cooked goose and pork and mutton and bear meat and beef and deer meat, then made the fritters and pies and