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Archive for Negro Doll Makers

MIDDLE PASSAGE AND THE MEMORIES OF A SLAVE~~~Fiction by Riveroflifelisajoy

Ma name is John Smith.

Ah, been in dis here plantation since a

was a young chile..sold offin’

my Mama befo’ I was ten.

But Ah memba’ my Mama face

and my Mama hands.

My Mama face wuz brown

tired and sad. 

She wore a ole’ faded

red head rag.   She would

take me wid her to clean

the chicken coups

and feed the cows.

Ah would play and chase

the chickens!

One day the master

of  da house came and

picked me out from

ma friends and told

my Mama it wuz time

fo’ me to go!

I wuz too big to

be playin’ anymo’.

The master sent ole’

Joe, the helper to carry me off

to the market to be

sold. 

Ah cried and kicked and

screamed fo’ my

Mama. 

She just stood a lookin’

after me and did not

move to help me!

Ah watched my Mama

grow tiny as the horse,

cart  pulled me and the otha’ slaves who

was packed into it away from

my birth plantation to a

new and dangerous beginin’!

Ah wuz sold to the Williams.

Mr. Williams was kind, but

his son was the mean one.

He liked to beat slaves fo’ nuthin’

and then leave um to die if they

put up a fuss.

He would jus’ buy mo’

slaves the next day.

The Williams plantation

was a cotton plantation.

Hard work, pickin’ cotton,

cuts up yo’ hands and stuff.

Ah grew big and strong.

I could carry three times my weight

on a good day.

So young master Williams took

good care uh me. 

But ah hated ta see

my friends suffer so.

One day we heard of the

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

Ah  decided to run awa’.

No, Ah told ye, that Master Williams

wuz good to me.  Ah just wanted to see

my Mama so bad.

Ah did not care about good treatment.

Ah wanted to be free! 

Ah made a chance run fo’ it

one night.

Ah wuz tryin’ ta meet

up wid the UnderGround RailRoad

in the forest.

Ah, made a mistake.

I told ole’ Buck, who curries the

Master’s horses.  He warn’ me

not to try it!  Ah, told him to minds his business!

I could out run any dog, or horse….cause the master

fed me the best food cause ah carried the heavy loads and pulled

plows when the horses went lame.

Sos’  I think that is why I wuz caught so fast.

When they draggs’ me back to the

plantation, there was ole’ Buck a lookin’

at me.  From a distance he kept gettin’

bigger, and bigger.  He stood right at

the wipping post and look at me….just starin’

and shaking his ole’ grey head.

When they tied me up I could see dried

blood where other slaves had been beat.

It wuz a cloudy day.

It wuz a hot night.

They found me in the day and wup me

deep into da night.

Young Master Williams took a break

from his workin’ my back, and

then told his workers to continue on

till the next mornin’ just wupin’

my back.

I stop yellin’ and then I don’t

member nothin after dat.

All I know is that I found ma’self

sittin up here wit Jesus, and da

Angels.

Oh, and I found Mama too!

Except  she got a big smile on

huh face, and she wearing a white

dress and she don’t look tired no’ mo’.

Fini~~~

Fiction Depiction of Slavery

by Riveroflifelisajoy

Cakes and Cookies My Aunt Ellen Used to Bake! * Holiday Baking!!

dinner-wit-us-steppinhowards.jpgMy grandparents used to live on Pacific Street in Brooklyn New York when I was born in 1961.  My parents had left Brooklyn before I was born and purchased a home in Queens New York. 

 I remember visiting  my grandparents and my Great Aunt Ellen for the holidays.  Sometimes my father would drive into Brooklyn and pick up my mother’s parents and Aunt Ellen.

They would then spend ThanksGiving with us in Queens.  Aunt Ellen would always have “bags of plaid or green with rolling wheels filled with great smelling cookies,  cakes,  and ingredients to help my mother out with the Thanks Giving Feast! 

It was a wonderful time of togetherness!  I was about 5 or 6 when a picture had been taken of everybody at the table from my mother and father to the rest of the family gathered around for the prayer and the meal at the table.  I always knew that this was supposed to be a special time. 

  They were imigrants from Virginia.  My Great Aunt Ellen was a spinster.  She was a member of a 7th Day Adventist church. 

She was well known for her hand made dolls,  her cooking and her baking!  She would cook for church functions  all the time.  But  she made her living cooking every day for a family of a wealthy  Building Designer named Freidman. 

 My Aunt Ellen lived at the Friedman  house on on Argiel Road 6 days a week. She cared for the two daughters, cleaned the house, and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  She was a devote 7th Day Adventist so she attended church every Saturday.  She was my favorite person to see when I went to my grandparents home. 

I did not realize how special that apartment was until just now.  Because so many of the things that I love to do are threaded by the love and quiet personality I had observed  of my Aunt Ellen. 

She spoke volumes with her actions by constantly being busy.  She did not preach at you…she was just a quiet loving presence.  She went away every year and baked up state at the Religious Retreats of the 7th Day Adventist. 

When she passed it was a difficult time because she represented a era of my life.  She lived long enough to meet my son after he was born, and she was talking to him and even recognized him and everyone else up until her dying moment. 

Aunt Ellen had passed at the age of 86 years old.  She left behind her hand made dolls and her quiet  love for God and his word.  Her bedroom was filled with Bibles and 7th Day Adventist literature. 

The Freidman daugthers were middle aged women and they cried with great emotion at the wake and funeral.  They stated that she was their second mother and they were in mourning for the dear Ellen.

Ellen’s Cakes*

Yellow Cake with milk Chocolate Frosting: 

I would love to sneak pieces and pieces of cake and eat until my stomach hurt!!! She would make a three layer cake with the frosting between the layers.  I loved to eat the chocolate all by itself! The cake was the bonus.  My son  always asks me why do I love chocolate so much.  I think it truly is a comfort food for me.  It reminds me of Aunt Ellen’s baking —I guess.  She would sometimes put walnuts in the milk chocolate frosting.  Every thing Aunt Ellen did was from scratch!  No Betty Crocker for Aunt Ellen back in the 60’s and 70’s! 

Classic White Cake with Coconut Frosting:

I would enjoy this cake also.  It was light and fluffy, and had a pinapple center.  Again all of her baking was done from scratch.  Sometimes if I arrived on the one day she had off from the Friedman’s home,  I would get to see Aunt Ellen in the midst of baking!  (I have come to realize now, that is why I like to cook, and bake so much–when I have time!) I also love to knit, and sew by hand.  I just do not have the time that I would like to devote to handcrafting!

Lemon Pound Cake:

There was no frosting on this cake….but the lemon was strong and the cake was firm but moist.  I remember savoring the tangy lemony taste with a cup of milk!  I did not like milk back then,  but if Aunt Ellen baked something you would certainly expect to see me with a cup of milk!

Vanilla Drops:

These Vanilla Drop Cookies were hard as a rock!  But once you got them in your mouth you kept eating, and eating till they were all gone!   Aunt Ellen used baking soda, baking powder,  yeast, and all of the traditional ingredients.  Sometimes she would have me sift the flour for her baking.  That was my favorite task when helping her out.  She would chide me, or admonish me to do this or do that, or sit down so I wouldn’t spill anything!   She never patted me on the head, or even kissed my cheek.  She was very quiet and just plodded along her course until she finished one project of baking or another.

Chocolate/ Walnut,  and or Chocolat Chip Cookies:

Yes, I saved the best for  last.  These cookies were the best for me.  I would eat, and eat those cookies until my mother would tell me to stop it!  I would sneak back into the kitchen and look inside this special roasting pot that Aunt Ellen would store her completed cookie projects inside of  wax paper,  foil, and little plastic bags. 

 I just loved to smell the flour and odor of baked goods as I would walk into  that kitchen and take a cookie or two.  I would check the kitchen table for evidence of a new baking project —you know ingredients of walnuts already cracked and waiting in little bags or containers. 

 I would then go across to the window and look out and see the elevated train station with people waiting for their train above Altantic Avenue.  I would go back to the living room with my cookies!

Cakes I attempt to make>>>

Now that Aunt Ellen is gone for some years now,  I still find myself loving home baked goods.  I cannot recreate them from scratch but I go to the supermarket and pick up the boxes of BETTY CROCKER or Duncan Hines Cake mixes!  I will list the group I will be making for this ThanksGiving Weekend:

 Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake

****I have premade White Frosting with rainbow sprinkles for the White Cake.

Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe **Red Velvet Cake

****I will use the premade Ducan Hines White Frosting for the Red Velvet Cake.

Duncan HInes- Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Cake

****I will use the premade milk chocolate frosting for the Golden Cake.

****Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies

I do not need any frosting on my brownies!

Two more are not cake but something I have discovered that are tasty:

Concord Foods  Apple Crisp-  I purchased this mix in King Kullen,  but I have also purchased it in Waldbaums,  and Pathmark Stores.

All that is needed is simple butter, and Fresh Apples!  You can put icecream on this after it is prepared.  It is great tasting and easy to make too!

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix-  This is the only mix that comes close to the old fashioned taste of Aunt Ellen’s cooking and her bisquits! 

I truly enjoyed reminiscing with you about my love of Aunt Ellen,  and her special quiet ways.

Enjoy your ThanksGiving Weekend,  and the Special People in your lives!