Monday, February 20, 2006


Miss Whitington brought her newborn Jessica to my Sara so she could nurse. Although she might not have meant it to be that way it was a comfort to Sara since we had lost our second son that same night he was born. Jessica didn't seem to mind that she was suckling a negro breast and she became quite attached to Sara and I as she grew up. Children, even in the south, didn't see negro slaves as property as much as they saw the different colored people as adventures and curiosity. But it was a naivete that went away when they got older.

Mister Whitington let me take Jessica with me when I went to different parts of the plantation because he could look in my eyes and know that I would protect that child with my own life. She was a restless child so I imagine it was nice to have the house quiet for a couple of hours so she went along with me. She would play with the other children around the slave's quarters and when she got older and started school she knew not to mention that there was a negro school of sorts on the plantation her daddy owned.

You see it was against the law for negroes to learn to read and write but everybody in town seemed to ignore that I could because I was a house negro not a field negro so I could drive the buggy into town and pick Jessica up from Miss Brown's dance school. Jessica rode in the back until we were out of town then she climbed up front with me.

Now her brother Jacob was a different story because he had been told as a boy by his daddy that one day he would own the plantation and would run the entire operation so of course he looked at me differently than Jessica who would grow up to marry a plantation owner and just run the household. He was cordial enough but distant when it came to personal interaction with us.

Jessica was about 13 when the war started because Jacob was 17 and I recall there being 4 years between them. Another child had been stillborn between them. Jacob went off to fight and when word came back six months later that he was killed the whole feeling of the house changed. I was sad that Jacob was killed because he was a good boy and war is just wrong. Of course the whites looked at us different because it was supposed to be our fault that this war was going on.

Jessica was inconsolable when Jacob died. It was only the two of them and the news came just as the family was packing to move closer to Atlanta for protection. Nobody thought what happened to Atlanta could ever happen and in fact the last time I saw Atlanta I couldn't see it through all the smoke from the fires. By then Jessica had changed so much and didn't want anything to do with me and Sara. She didn't know that we were getting ready to make our run from the place. I felt that the war was coming to a bad end for the south and the lynchings were happening more and more.

I went to talk to Jessica on the day before we left and by then she had changed so much that she wasn't the girl I saw grow up. Maybe that girl was still deep inside her and that's what I hoped because she was angry and actually called me a nigger. It was one of the sad days of my life.

Sara and me ran off and while most of the slaves were heading to what they thought was the freedom of the north we had decided to head west so we didn't have to go through the remnants of the war and the rag tag leftovers of a defeated army that had sunk to looting what the came across and lynching any negro they found.

That was so many years ago and I tell you because I ended up working for another plantation owner but in the hotel he bought in Texas. He was smart enough to sell and get out because he knew that war was starting. Me and Sara and our two children have a house just outside of town. They're not our born children but two that we found abandoned on the road two days from Atlanta. We took them and raised them as our own and now our boy Nate is in the Cavalry and rides in a unit along with white men. Cassie is in school and wants to be a school teacher.

But not two long ago a couple took a room at the hotel and I recognized the woman right off. It was Miss Brown, the woman who had the dance school Jessica went to back home. It turned out that she lives not too far from Jessica. They both ended up in Savannah after the war. She told me that Jessica married a man who has a dry goods store and does some shipping business too and that they have three sons. One named Jacob of course and one named Thomas which was Jessica's daddy's name and when she told me the youngest's name my heart stopped for a second. William was the youngest son's name. His daddy isn't named William and his grandpa's name isn't William. William is MY name.

I told Sara and she told me I was foolish to think she named her son after a negro slave but I said I knew in my heart that it was so. I found out that I was right when the letter came. You see, the Browns were headed back to Savannah from visiting their boy in Arizona and they told Jessica where I was. I could read the happiness in her words on the three pages. It's still much too dangerous for a negro to travel through the south but I wished I could make the trip to see her face and look at those boys. She said that she was sad about what she had said to me and that the memory burdened her but I wrote back and tried to lift that burden and I think I did because now I get a letter from her about every month.

Best regards from NY! Logo land rover high capacity cd changer laser eye surgery in reno
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]