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Bessie

June 2023
1min read

Our childhood years were so protected that we didn’t have but the vaguest notion of what sex was. I would see the rooster worrying the hen, and I didn’t know what was happening. But I’d watch the hens and had it figured out when they were just about to pop out an egg. And I’d shout, “Sadie! Sadie! Come quick, if you want to see this hen lay an egg.” She kept missing it, so one time I picked up the hen and held her upside down until Sadie got there.

You had to decide: Am I going to change the world or am I going to change me? Or maybe change the world a little bit just by changing me?

We lived a clean life, but Lord, we had a good time. Why, every one of us children played an instrument, and you know as a family we formed a band.

We had a small organ, a Mason & Hamlin, which Papa played beautifully. So did Julia, who had a perfect ear, along with our little brother Sam. We had all kinds of instruments, like a flute, a violin, a trombone, and a clarinet. Papa would lead us. We would play marches, all kinds of music that was popular at the time. In the morning people would walk past our house and say, “Y’all had a party last night.” And we’d say, “Wasn’t no party! Was just the bunch of us being musical!”

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