edsanders.com - Aunt Eve Interviewed Part 2

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St. Thomas's Church.

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"A Sunday dey all went to Garrison Forest church, St. Thomas's, de great church of de county. Dey came from all around -- Soldiers Delight, Chestnut Ridge, Randallstown. Most people come a-horseback. Ladies were good riders den; dey wore gypsy hats tied under de chin. De road was full of people, mostly a-horseback, some in coaches and chaises. Tom C-----'s father, de passon, he come from England -- de biggest, fattest man ever I hear tell of. Took two or three men to lift him into de pulpit, till de last he broke de axle-tree of de carriage, and he couldn't go no more. Why, dey took de fat out of him by de pound, Dr.H----- did (monsus skilfful man, Dr. H-----!), and dey presarved it in liquor, and I b'lieve dey got it kep' to dis day!

"When de war come -- dat day, understand I tell ye -- dere was cannon (I's axed about dat cannon many a time) up at Captain L-----'s store. I s'pec's it was advertised, but when dat cannon was fired, next day ye'd see de malishy, dey called dem, a-marchin' down from Pennsylvany and about and de Lord knows what, all kivered with dust, and dressed in brown linen huntin'-shirts, pleated and fringed, mostly farmers. Dere was enough to go. Dey cayed canteens and knapsacks, and dey had great hairy high caps--yes, dey had; s'pec's dey was bear-skin--and dey wore leggins. De officers was dressed in rigimentals, blue and red, with hairy caps, and a valise and canteen buckled behind deir saddles. Some wore linsey-woolsey gray bear-skin cloth. Dey used to sing,

'My cold feet l my cold hands l
My belly aches, but my pluck stands I'

"Never seed so many men, 'cept when de French army was here -- as beautiful a sight as ever I see, so bloody-minded! De place was black with people when dey had deir review here. Dey come into town on a Sunday, and ye had to open yer house to take de head men in; de outskuffins went into tents in de fields. When de townspeople heerd dey was comin' dey thought it was de British, and sich runnin' and ridin' all day and night to get de wagons and horses to cay de goods out of de town! Dey liked Baltimore wonderful, de French did, and dey made a song dat dey would make New France of dis place. But deir was some of dem was very vulgar. Dey was de devil dat brought in dis eatin' of terrapins and frogs and snakes here. De Lord sent enough here, without eatin' sich devilment as dat ! Dey riz de market with deir cookin' and eatin'. It was dem fotched in, too, dis callin' trowsers pantaloons, and stocks dey called cravats.

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"In de time of de war dere was constant ridin' with papers, back and for'ard, night and day. See a gentleman ride up to de door, give de papers to maaster, and ride off; never get off de horse, never 'light!

'Now I'm a-comin' with all de week's news,
Some lies, and some true,'

Dat's what old John White used to sing when he come and used to chase us all over de place. When I hears him I runs under de platform, he after me, here, dere, every where. He was a monsus big man. Oh, my Lord! And mistuss -- she was monsus big woman - used to most bust laughln'! Sich runnin' and hellerin' to try and skere us chil'en! Christmas he brought de Bell snickle. Once he asked me for a drink of water, and while he was drinkin' I pitched de bueketful all over him. Didn't I put den!

"Mistuss and Miss Betsy and old Sally B----- (she was a widow woman) and 'Good Liddy' --- she was a good crittur dat mistuss raised -- dey helped to make huntin'-shirts for de army, and we sarvants was all kept busy a-sewin' and knittin' and spinnin'. Sence, bringin' in dem factories broke de spinnin'wheels. We made one hundred shirts for Lafayette's army. Every thing went for de war. Dey used to go into yer fields and press de fattest cattle, and yer wagon, when dey wrote on it it was for de army, and yer load of hay too! Dey cayed all along. De soldiers looked like de ruffi'ns ye see on de streets. Dey used to take man from his plow in de field, wife and chil'en a-cryin', de soldiers a-cussin' de women, and marchin' off de husband before 'em. Stephen Shamydine and Maaster David Poe used to press. Captain L------- and Major Howard went, and even Tom C------ had to go. Nuff had to go; heap of cryin' about it! Maaster gave a man a lot of money to go his substitute, dey called it: man never come back, and never was heard of no more !

"Well, dere was dis everlastin' flyin' of papers until dey 'claim peace; and we was glad enough when it come. And soon arter dat old masster died wid de gout. He was dat cross nobody could come near him 'cept me and another boy. Maaster was 'dustrious man, and used to stand up to de huskin' pile like any one of us.

"I lived twenty-three year on dat plantation arter maaster died. When ole mistruss died she left me to go clear for myself -- Aunt Liddy, cook Liddy, Henry, me, and Carlos; left all my chil'en free 'cept two -- I had fifteen chil'en, but don't ye see I look gamesome yet? De last was born time of Ross's war. We were up at Green Spring den; hear de guns roarin' at Fort M'Henry, mistuss and young mistuss a-frettin' and cryin'. Soon after misttins took sick and died.

"I staid a year and two or three months after I was free, caise I knowed nothin' of hirin'. But now I'd got de string off my neck, I thought it was time for me to leave to do somethin' for myself, so I comes down to Baltimore once, all unbeknowens to my mistuss; and caise I didn't go to tell her she was mad, and said she didn't care if I staid or no. Dat 'fronted me, and I says to myself, I'll change my name to 'Peter' and put out; so I called myself 'Peter Putout.' Eve was my name.

'"When mistuss heard I was raly goin', she comes out of de house, and says she, 'Eve, yer m~aster says he'll build ye a house if ye'll stay.' But it was too late. I'd asked him before, and he wouldn't, so now I was bound to go. I was so choked up and so full, I couldn't say nothin'; it was like life and death was partin'. Home is the best place, be it ever so homely. I was faithful to 'em. I was allers ready, never was afraid to work. I'd go out any hour of de night, when I heerd de rain and de storm, and take de lantern and go 'way down to de milk-house all by myself, and take de milk out and put de pans under de big oak-tree, and fetch rocks to put on 'em; water a-risin', and de great black water-snakes a-lyin' dere glisterin' in de dark; sometimes I had to take a horse to go to 'em, de water riz so high often.

"Mistuss cried after I went away: hasty and passionable but clever woman. Never been dere but once or twice sence.

"Lamps was lit when I got to town, and next day I hired myself to a man named Jimmy French, 'way up de country. I went one Saturday and staid till Thursday. He said he never seed any body do as much work as I did; but dere was no black people dere, and it was monsus lonesome--no body to speak to--and I didn't like it. So when I heerd dere was to be a launch in Baltimore I told him I was goin' down to see it, and I raly did mean to go back; but as I was gwine along a man let me ride in his cart, and arter I'd rid a while I see so many blue rocks and high grass, says I, 'Here is rocks and here is grass; must be great many snakes about here.' Says he, ' We throws 'em out twenty foot long with our scythes in de spring.' 'My God !' says I, 'I never come out here no more !' and I've never been dere no more from dat day to dis. When I got to town I forgot all about de launch, a-thinkin' of de snakes and de wildernesses. But I called myself Peter and I soon got work. Washin' and cookin', cleanin' and scourin', dat was my trade. Nice woman took me and gave me four dollars a month, every Christmas five dollars. I worked hard, and I put all de money I saved in de bank, till I got my chil'en all free - Ben and his wife and child, and my daughter Fanny. I gave seventy dollars for Ben and Fanny, and one hundred and fifty dollars for wife and child. My husband Bill, if he'd 'a had pluck, might 'a bought Ben for twenty dollars before he left de (Garrison) Forest, but he was married to de whisky-bottle. Sonny, you got very pretty foot, mighty pretty features. I'm a poor old crittur, but I must talk lively to keep my sperits up. If I jest had somethin' to buy my tobacky.

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"Yes, Sir, I did see Washington once walkin' with his black sarvant. He was a good lookin' man in black clothes. Can't hold up to him in dis day. He protected de land and made it all stanch. Dat's his imidge on his ormament dere."

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Copyright 1997 by Ed Sanders.