03709_0089: Isaac Slaughter

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Isaac Slaughter, Greensboro, Ga., Black, formerly enslaved, Bridgeport, 17 January 1939

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Isaac Slaughter (colored) Bridgeport, Alabama

Jennie Sue Williams Bridgeport, Alabama

[handwritten in top right corner] AL-85 Fair. that's all. EC. [end handwritten portion]

ISAAC SLAUGHTER

Isaac Slaughter said: "I wuz borned on March 15, 1845 in Greensboro, Georgia, the slave of John I. Slaughter. This is what my sister, Dosha, says in the family Bible. Sister Dosha, she lives in Dadeville, Alabama, and she is one and one-half years older than me. I wuz on Flint River in Georgia during the Civil War, and lawse, de sights I did see! I seed men and hawses laying all around me dead, and I wuz scared jest 'bout half to death."

"Now, papa, be careful what you tell, you know yo' don't want to be tellin' things what ain't true." admonished his daughter, Tura. With this Slaughter hushed his war tales.

"Well, we moved to Dadeville, Alabama, from Georgia with de Slaughters, and dey's a place called Slaughter's Crossing there now, I [strike through] reclaims [end strike through] recollects, and my sister, Dosha, she still lives there. I's got two sisters and two brothers living yet, I [strike through] reclaim [end strike through] reckon. Haven't heard from them in a long time but I [strike through] reclaim [end strike through] recollect as how some of the folks would have writ if they wuz any of them dead. My sister, Sophia, lives in Birmingham but lawse have mercy me, child, I haven't seed her in a long, long time."

"Well, Slaughter, where did you come from when you moved here?"

"I's done moved here from Fort Payne, Alabama in 1891. I's worked on de railroad when I's over in Fort Payne. I's worked at de ice plant when I's first come here, and den I done started to butchering for Mr. Ciders. I'se lived at de slaughter pen and raised sheep, pigs and cattle for Mr. Ciders to kill. Don't guess you remember Mr. Ciders but you daddy do. Den I'se butchered for

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different ones up to the last few years. But now I isn't able to lift de meat and handle hit."

For many years Slaughter has been a familiar figure around Bridgeport in his ragged clothing, stained with blood from his butchering, and generally about ten or twelve dogs following him, because of the blood and meat odor about him. Since he has stopped butchering the dogs do not follow him as they did. He is familiarly known as "Slaughter." Many people do not know that his real name is Slaughter, but think he derived his name from his profession as a butcher.

"What do you do now since you have stopped slaughtering?"

"Well, Missus, I jest raises little truck patches. I grows all kinds of vegetables, and year before last I growed some cotton; but dis last year I didn't grow no cotton. I don't use no plow for to break my ground, but just digs it up wid a spade."

"How much ground do you have?"

"I trucks about three lots, and I wuz 'bout to fergit to tell you 'bout my pigs. I raised me one pig for our own use and sold one little pig, and had one to die. You see, Missus, I gathers up slop at the stores ebery mornin', and one of my little pigs, I knows, got a fish bone and got choked on hit."

"Do you own your own house?"

"My daughter, Tura here, she own dis place."

Tura and Slaughter live in a little four-room frame house, which is painted white, trimmed in green, with flowers and shrubbery around it. When you enter the house you go into the living room, which contains an overstuffed living room suite, wool rug and floor lamp. The walls are papered, and lace curtains, stiffly starched, hang from the windows.

Slaughter's room contains a wicker living room suite, white bed,

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round table, buffet and curtains. This room has linoleum on the floor, and a churn of milk was setting by the fireplace on the hearth. In one corner of the room on a couch is bunch of old magazines and pictures. The daughter pointed these out to me and said, "That is papa's playhouse. He gets all dem books and pictures out every night 'fore he goes to bed and looks at dem." His pipes are among the collection. From my position I could see into the kitchen, and could see an electric stove and a linoleum on the floor, and a porcelain top table. Some one gave a rap at the front door about this time.

"Well, bless your heart, come right in out of that snow."

"I want you to come and work for me today," came the reply from a white visitor.

"Lawse how me, child, I jest can't today."

"On, now Tura you just must come and help me out."

"Why, honey, if you could see dem seven shirts I's got to iron, and a washin' to do besides dat! Wuz you done be lookin' for company, or what you done want me to do?"

"I just wanted you to wash my dishes and clean my two rooms for me."

"Well, can't I come 'bout one o'clock and get dat done all right?"

They agreed after some talk for Tura to go at one o'clock and do the housework.

It was finally revealed by Tura that her husband, John Berry, was killed during the World War in France, and she got a pension from the Government. She is one of the best practical nurses in town, and this enables her to live very comfortably.

"Slaughter, what time do you get up every morning?"

"I don't have no special time to git up. Sometimes I gits up 'bout 3:30 and sometimes 'bout 4:30. I jest gets up and builds me

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a fire and looks at my picture books until daylight, and den I goes to town and gather up my slop, and den I comes back and eats my breakfast and goes up in de field and builds me a fire and starts diggin' in my ground."

"What church do you belong to?"

"I belongs to de Primitive Baptist, but I been a member for ober twenty-five years. I wants to say dat my long life, I thinks, has been due to not eating much meat, don't drink coffee or any other kind of strong drink. I neber had laid out at night or exposed myself. The only time I been exposed to de weather is working. Most of my eating is buttermilk and cornbread and some light bread. I won't eat without my milk. I drinks my buttermilk three times a day, with sugar in it. If I eats three times a day, de sugar bowl hab to be filled three times."

Tura said, "That's the onliest thing papa is extravagant 'bout is his sugar and candy. Twenty-five cents worth of sugar won't last us a week, and papa kin eat twenty-five cents worth of candy any day, and he hain't got a tooth in he head. I don't think its wasteful though, long as he enjoys it like he do."

"Do you own a cow?"

"No, I'm just milking this one for a neighbor who is away. I'm going to try and buy her if she will let me."

"I guess I'm de oldest person in town," Slaughter said, "and can see jest as good as anybody without glasses. Guess I must hab my second eyesight, case I can remember when long time ago I couldn't see so well. My hearin's good too. Most that's wrong wid me is jest old age."

We were again interru ted by a knock at the door.

"Why, come right in, Uncle Arthur. Did you have a nice Christmas?"

"Yes, yes, did you-all? Did Nora (Slaughter's granddaughter) come

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down for Christmas?"

"Yes, she and her old man just come down and spent the day. Did you find your folk all well?"

"No, two of dem wuz sick in bed."

With this much said Uncle Arthur lapsed into silence and they again turned to me as if ready to resume the conversation.

"Do you have any more children?"

"Yas'um, Missus, I's got two more daughters, Alice and Mary. Dey done lib in Kansas City, and I's had one son, Earl. He's been dead for thirty-two years."

"Where is your dog, Slaughter?"

"Well, Missus, since you wuz done ober here before, and made my picture wid Kayo, a car done runned ober him and killed him. I shore is glad dat you made our pictur and done brought me one, case I didn't hab no pictures of Kayo. I's still got my old big "Muffy" cat though, and also got me twenty hens."

"Say, Missus, what's wrong wid Alabama dat dey don't gib de old folks no pension?" Here Uncle Arthur chimed in, "Ah done thought dat's what she wuz doing here wuz to see 'bout you a pension."

"Alabama does pay some of the old people a pension, some of them in Jackson County get $6.00 a month, but you must make application in Scottsboro for this."

"Lawse how mercy, I wish I could get $6.00 a month. Den maybe I wouldn't hab to dig so hard in de ground for a living."

"What time do you go to bed at night?"

"Sometimes I goes to bed 'bout 7:30 and sometimes not 'til 8:30 or 9 o'clock."

Tura said "Papa plays in his playhouse ebery night and sets in front of de fire in his chair, dat's his chair specially. See, it's a little low chair, and he's low, so he sets in it all de time. He

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