Another black couple that lived on the farm provides many fond memories. Alameda and John Jones came to the farm after Kurt and Alice. Alameda’s brother, Lee Duval, and his two children, Joe and Sissy, also lived with them. They were a remarkable family. Alameda and Lee were very literate and read every book and magazine that was in our house. I am not sure if John could read. Lee wrote poetry and I still remember his opening lines of one of them:
It was the night before Christmas and I gave a to do,
There weren’t very many -- just only a few.
John was a very quite man and was partially disabled. I recall that he had a deformed hand and elbow but he worked the fields every day.Alameda had few teeth but always smiled and was always busy with the cleaning and cooking. Laundry was a weekly affair that involved boiling work clothes outside over an open fire and rinsing with water pumped from the cistern. Irons were heated on the stove and all clothes were “ironed”. Al had two bad habits, smoking a corn cob pipe and drinking. Fortunately, there was not enough money to provide alcohol but tobacco was plentiful. If the visiting friends brought beer for the weekend, Al always got the leftovers.
Lee was a very patient man. He worked slowly but hard. I remember him showing me how to hoe a tomato crop that my brother and I raised one summer. He would hoe a fixed number of rows and then insist that we set down and drink lots of water. A lesson that I learned from him was that the first ten rows were the hardest. No matter how big the field, things got better after the first ten rows. It’s “starting” that is the
hard part and counts as much as “finishing”.