03709_0170: I Don't Know What's the Matter

Edward J. Bacon, no date given, Athens, Black, brick mason, Athens, 31 May and 14 June 1939




ground under the house I could see buckets and boxes, and chickens were walking around pecking in the coarse grit that had probably been scattered there for them.

Fred soon reappeared, wearing street shoes, and led me out on the back porch where his wife, Susie, was feeding the chickens. "Oh, what a nice lot of chickens you have!" I exclaimed. "And so many of them are frying size."

"Yessum, I'm proud of my chickens," Susie declared. "I had lots more of 'em, but the old river rats have eaten so many of 'em. Some of them rats are big as cats."

"Why don;t you catch the rats?" I inquired. "Me catch them rats!" she exclaimed. "Lawsy, Miss, they'll fight you!"

Fred opened the gate to the poultry wire fence that enclosed the flourishing garden. "It surely does take lots of feed for those chickens," he grumbles. "If we didn't raise our own corn I don't know what we'd use for money to buy chicken feed with. Now, just look, Miss! Ain't my garden pretty. It stays like this just as long as I have time to work it. It provides us plenty of vegetables to cook with our little home-raised meat for dinner, and we have homeraised grits, eggs, and meat for breakfast. I think that's good enough for anybody." I looked at the rows of cabbages, tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers. Beyond them was a patch of knee-high corn, and a wide space in which sweet potato plants were growing. "Miss, do you see all this land planted in something to eat? It used to be I could afford to hire it plowed up in the spring, but now I don't have money to pay out for anything like that, so I just have to dig it up and


Last edit 2 months ago by AngelikaNorin


plant it myself, and keep it hoed out. There's not a soul to help me hit a lick in it, but there's plenty of 'em to help me eat what comes out of my garden. Notice my young corn down there by the river. It'll be coming on while we're eating on this.

"I'm a man that has always paddled my own canoe, and what nobody will help me with, I do by myself." He turned around and led me toward the street. "See these peach trees," he said, "Well, the old woman puts up enough fruit from them trees to last us from one bearing season to the next." We had reached the sidewalk when he asked:

"Do you like flowers?"

"Yes," I answered, "I've never thought a home was complete without growing flowers around."

"Do you have any plants that you could give us," he begged.

"I'm sorry, Fred," I had to answer, "but I live in an upstairs apartment, and my few little flowers grow in porch boxes, but if I can get you some from my friends I'll let you know."

"Thank you. Miss," he said. "I'll be mighty glad to get 'em. Just let me know where to go after 'em. I hope you'll find what I've told you to be worth the trouble you took to come way down here and listen to me. I'm sorry I had to be in a sort of hurry to keep that 4-o'clock appointment, for if I hadn't had that on my mind, maybe I could have remembered more things to tell you about. Anyway, I've enjoyed going over my experiences with you. From what my mother told me of her white folks you remind me of 'em."


Last edit 2 months ago by AngelikaNorin


"That's kind of you, Fred," I told him. I thanked him for his story and left.

As I crossed the railroad track in front of his house I glanced back. He was still standing where I had left him in the walkway between his two houses, his hands in his pockets and a faraway look on his face.


Last edit over 1 year ago by MaryV
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