July 28, 2006

Transcribed by N. Hector/K. Brown

Interviewed by Eleanor Green and Emily Weaver


EG:   My name is Eleanor Green I am sitting here with Sterling Smith on July 28, 2006 at the Indianola Public Library.   We are interviewing him for the Delta Black Farmers History Project.

EG:  Can you tell me your full name?

SS:  Well, actually my name is Sterling Sylvia Smith.  I was named after a horse. My father use to raise horses. He had a real good horse and her name was Sylvia; this horse passed and he named me after that horse.  My middle name is Sylvia and I was named after that horse.

EG:  That an interesting story   When were you born?

SS:   I was born on January 3, 1947.

EG:  Were you born in this area?

SS:  No, I was born in Ofahoma, Mississippi, that’s in Leake County out between Canton Mississippi and Philadelphia Mississippi.

EG:  Were you born on a farm?

SS:  I was born; born and reared on a farm that’s all I ever known was farming. On the farm we raised everything. We raised our own food. We raised cotton, we raised corn, we raised peanuts, we raised potatoes, we raised cows, we raised horses, we raised ducks, we raised geese, we raised guineas, we raised chickens, we raised everything you could possible raise on a farm.  We raised our own food.  We raised cows, we milked cows and sold butter for a living to help us out.  We also ate the butter and drunk the milk.

EG:  How many acres did you have?  Do you know?

SS:  Five hundred acres and that’s right.  My granddaddy was a farmer.  The land was handed down from generation to generation.  It’s still being handed down.  I am away from my family. It is too far for me to go and farm our land.  So, I had to find land up here where I live.

EG:  How did you end up in Indianola?

SS:  Ok.  The way I ended up here in the Delta. I went to Mississippi Valley State University and we had a principal in Rolling Fork, MS named Mr. O.E. Jordan.  He moved from Carthage, MS to Rolling Fork. When he found out I was graduating from Mississippi Valley, he came and found me and gave me a job.  So, I ended up going to Rolling Fork, MS.  I eventually left Rolling Fork, MS and came to Indianola, MS, where I have been farming for about twenty-five years.

EG:  How much land do you farm here in Indianola?

SS:  One hundred and fifty acres of soybeans.

EG: You grow soy beans?

SS:  Yes.

EG:  Is that all you’ve ever grown there?

SS:  Well, I have tried other crops.  I’ve tried corn. I’ve tried Milo but I feel I was more successful growing soy beans.

EG:  How did you get the land here?  Did you own the land or rent the land?

SS:   I rent the land. I go around just by trial and error and mouth to mouth contact and ask people about land.

EG:  Have you rented the same land most of the time?

SS:  No.  I’ve rented various plots of land not always the same because sometimes people change and tell you the rent is ended and they would like to work it themselves.  So, I have to go and find other land to rent.

EG:  Are you still farming it today?

SS:  Yes, I am still farming it today, as a matter of fact I am heading to my field now to see has it begin to rain.  Sunflower, MS, that’s where I am headed when I leave here.

EG: We hope for rain.

SS:  Yah we’re hoping for rain. Also, we need some rain.

EG:  What do you do with the soy beans?  How do you sell them?

SS:  Well, you  take them to a grain bin and dump them there and they will ask you if you want to spot sell them or do you want to put them in storage.  Based on the prices there you can sell them right then or you can store them for whatever time period that you would like to store them because sometimes the prices go up … you want to wait until the prices go up and get more for your product.

EG: You grew up on a farm that your family lived off of what came out of the ground.

SS:  Right.

EG: Everything.  Um, what made you change from that type of farming that you grew up with to more commodity farm?

SS:  Well, it all depends on your area.

EG: Um hmm.

SS:  If you’re in Rome, you have to act like the Romans.  And see, up in this area, it was more prevalent in this rich, fertile land up in the Delta…it was more feasible to grow soybeans in large plots than to just grow small plots in the hills up there.  You got small farmers in the hills, but you have very large farmers up here in the Delta.  So, since they have this large, vast amount of land, you have to make the adjustment and do what’s better for you based on where you are at that particular time.

EG: Do you grow any vegetables still for yourself?

SS:  Uh yes.  I grow vegetables now. I grow watermelons, I grow okra, I grow green peas.  I grow turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, rutabagas.

EG: And it’s for your family?

SS:  I grow it for my family and I sell some also. I was born on a farm where we raised everything, we sold some of our products along the way.  We would make extra money like that.  We’d do anything we had to do to make an honest dollar.  I was born and raised like that.  The Bible says train up a child in the way he should go when he is young.  When is old he will not depart from it. So, I haven’t departed from the way I was trained.

EG:  Um, you said that your grandfather, uh, the lands that you have, was your grandfather’s and it was passed on through generation.  Do you know how the first person came to own the land and where they came from?

SS:  Well, my grandfather… only thing I know they were in Ofahoma, Mississippi.  They were in Ofahoma and my great-grandfather was in Ofahoma.  I don’t know where they originated from.  I don’t know where they came from.  Matter of fact, my grandmother originated in Inverness, Mississippi.  Somehow or another some of the hill people used to come to the Delta at some time and would help pick cotton up here ‘cause they had lots of cotton up here…they used to pick cotton by hand.  Somehow or another, my grandfather met my grandmother during the time.   They became acquainted with each other and they got married.

EG:  Okay.

SS:  And that’s how she ended up back there, but he was already in Ofahoma.

EG:  How has technology changed over the time that you grew up farming and your own farming years?

SS:  Ooh (laugh), it’s been a tremendous change. It’s been a gigantic change. Years ago when I was farming, uh, when I began farming in Ofahoma, Mississippi, we would farm with mules.  We would plow mules and horses.  We didn’t have the modern technology of a tractor or something like this.  We’d plow those mules from can to can’t.  That’s from sun up until sun down, from the time you can see until you can’t see.  We plowed those mules and it was hard work out there plowing those mules.  Uh, we did everything as far as cultivating the soil, we’d do that with those mules.  As far as cotton is concerned, you’d have to chop that, go out there and chop that cotton and anything else you had.  You had to chop it and clean the grass out.  Now, you don’t have to do very much… you don’t have to do any chopping…they have chemicals that you go out there and just spray and kill the grass.  Matter of fact, they have that Roundup ready cotton, corn, and soybeans.  You don’t have to do any chopping unless you just want to raise a organic garden and don’t put any chemicals on it…some people are doing that now…raising organic gardens or something like that.  But it has changed…it has made a tremendous change.  Technology…mechanization…It’s putting a lot of people out of jobs too, especially around here in this Delta, ‘cause many times students, children, would, in the summer time they were able to go and chop cotton.  But now they can’t chop cotton.  Machines have cleaned the cotton up and the chemical has already cleaned it up.  So it leaves the children with nothing to do.  You know this old adage that says “an idle mind makes a devils workshop”.  So, they have plenty of time to get in trouble because they don’t have anything else to do.

EG: What kind of machinery do you use now in your farming?

SS:  I have…I purchased two big tractors.  I purchased two big tractors and I don’t have to hire very much help, mostly I do it all myself.  If I get in a tight, I might hire somebody to assist me sometimes.  Those two tractors do all that I have to do.

EG:  Um, do you use GPS at all with your farming?

SS:  What is that?  What is GPS?

EG:  Glo…global pos…global positioning satellite systems.

SS:  Global what?

EG:  positioning satellite systems.

SS:  Naw, I haven’t used that.

EG:  Well, um, I wouldn’t ask, but the farmer we interviewed on Wednesday said that it’s all the rage now.

SS:  What do they use that for? I don’t use that.

EG: I think that you can like…he said something about you can um map out the land…

SS:  Uh huh.

EG:  And the highs and lows…

SS:  Uh huh.

EG:  And so, and then you use it on your tractor and it would know to put more fertilizer here …

SS:  Uh huh.

EG:  But less here…and….

SS:  Well I don’t use that, I just use my personal knowledge.

EG:  Yeah, it was from the Alcorn demonstration farm.

SS:  Right, right.  I use my own knowledge of that, and so far I have been successful.  I’m not saying that method is not good.

EG:  Right.

SS:  But my method has proven to me to be successful and as long as you’re being successful, you can’t argue with success.

EG:  Have you had to make many changes over time to make the farm work?

SS:  Aw yes, I’ve had to make changes.  I started out planting corn.  But see I wasn’t able to purchase an irrigation system.  If you plant corn, most of the time, you’re going to have to have an irrigation system.  You can’t go out there setting up a irrigation system on somebody else’s land because they might rent it to you this year and then the next year they might take it from you.  So that wouldn’t make good sense to do that.  So I changed from corn to milo.  Milo, that’s a grain that they plant for animals.  You cut the seeds in the top of the plant.  They grow that for cows, and horses, and chickens, and stuff like that.  But I changed from milo.  Then, I was noticing that other farmers was doing well with soybeans, so therefore, I changed to soybeans.  In the last ten or twelve  years, that’s all I been growing is just soybeans.  I found that easier for me to raise because I don’t have to fertilize those soybeans ‘cause they fertilize themselves.  So that’s a break right there.

EG:  How do they do without irrigation?

SS:  The key now, based on my knowledge and skill that I have learned over the years, you go out there and if you plant them early, by late March or early April, during the time that there is a lots of moisture in the ground, most of time, they will be made before it dries up.  If you get those spring rains, they will be made before long.  Therefore, I can do without irrigation.  I learn a lot by observing others.  I said, well if they can be successful doing that, I can too.

EG:  Does anyone else in your family farm currently?

SS:  Yes.  I have a brother.  He raises watermelons sometimes.

EG:  Is he in Ofahoma?

SS:  Yeah, he lives in Ofahoma.  I have a sister.  My sister and husband are cattle farmers.  They raise cows.

EG:  Do you have any children?

SS:  Yes, I have two children.

EG:  Are they carrying on the farming tradition or…?

SS:  No, well, my two children….my daughter, when I was in school there I observed that physical therapists were needed in the area and when she was a small child, I told her I wanted her to be a physical therapist.  I schooled her from the cradle.  She went to school and graduated from St. Joseph’s High School and then she went on up to Mississippi School for Math and Science at Columbus.  From there, she went to USM and she got a degree in Biology and from there, she went to Arkansas State in the area of physical therapy.  She graduated two years ago in physical therapy.  I encouraged her to go in physical therapy because I didn’t want her to put up with what I had to put up with. Ha ha ha.  And my son…my son he’s a …he’s a recent graduate of Jackson State University in the area of Psychology.  He is also a minister.  He took after his granddaddy.  His granddaddy was also a minister.  He has been admitted to the Belhaven MBA, Master of Business Education, program and so he is attending Belhaven right now.  He started this summer.  He’s trying to get his Master’s in Business Administration.

EG:  And, but in addition to farming, you had another career.

SS:  Yes, I had another career.

EG:  Can you tell me about your career?

SS:  Well, I started out at Piney Woods Junior College down there in Rankin County.  You ever heard of Piney Woods?

EG:  Um, Yeah.

SS:  Down in Rankin County?

EG:  Um hmm.

SS:  It was traditional for my family to attend Piney Woods.  It was ten of us in my family.  My father didn’t have very much money to send us to college.  So therefore, we had a little professor by the name of Dr. Lawrence C. Jones, who was a friend of our family.  He was the president of Piney Woods.  They educate your head, the hands, and your heart.  You have to work, go to church, and go to school…the head, hands, and the heart are educated.  I attended Piney Woods Junior College for two years and worked my way down there at Piney Woods.  It was similar to what I was doing at home already.  We’d milk cows down there.  Girls would do typing and accounting and this type of thing.  They had a job for everybody.  My father paid twenty-five dollars for me to go to Piney Woods.  I graduated from Piney Woods in 1967.  Then from there, I attended Mississippi…MVSU.  I received a B.S. degree in Social Studies.  I was given a job in Rolling Fork, MS.

EG:  Were you teaching?

SS:  Yes, I was teaching.  I went in the field of education.  I was teaching Social Studies. To make a long story short, I recognized a need in the area of Special Education.  I went to Delta State and I majored in Special Education.  I taught Special Education for eighteen years in four different school districts.  A job came open in Indianola.  I had gone back to school and prepared myself.  I had gone in school administration and I had a triple A degree in school administration. I applied for the job and was given the job based on my degree and certification.

EG:  Okay.

SS:  I worked in the area of school administration fifteen years.  I retired in 2001 from the Indianola School District as the Special Education Supervisor and the Deputy Superintendent of Education.  My farming background taught me how to work and how to get out and hustle for a living.  I learned to work early in my life and I appreciated my heritage and my training that my father had given me.

EG:  What were some of your chores or responsibilities, like from younger ages on up to the older years?

SS:  When I was at home, I was my father’s right hand man.  I made sure that everything was done.  We had hogs.  We had to feed the hogs.  We had to feed the chickens.  We had to feed the ducks.  We had to mow the lawn.  We had cows.  My brother and I had to  milk about ten cows every morning before we went to school.  In the afternoon, you had to separate the calf from the mother cow.

EG:  What would you tell a young person?  What advice would you give a young person who wanted to….was interested in going into agriculture today?

SS:  I would tell them that agriculture is a wide-open field and you need to try to study and let people guide you to go into agriculture.  You ought to try to go to Mississippi State or Alcorn State.  It’s a wide open field.  You can go in different areas of agriculture, chemical engineers…you can go into grain…inspection.  It’s a lot of different areas of agriculture that you can go into.  I’d encourage them to go into agriculture today.  It’s a good field to go into.

EG:  What would you say is the value of land to you and your family?  How important is land…like being part of the land?

SS:  All richness comes form the ground.  I can’t think of anything that we use that didn’t derive or originate from the soil.  Everything comes from the ground…oil and gas and everything comes from the ground.  It’s just something that you cannot do without.  It’s a must.  You have to have that ground.  All richness comes from the earth.

EG:  Have you ever thought of selling your vegetables at a local farmers market?

SS:  I’ve tried that.  Matter of fact, when I was growing up, my father and I used to have so many vegetables until we had to sell it at the farmer’s market.

EG:  The farmer’s market in Cleveland is new….

SS:  Okay.

EG:  They don’t charge a fee.

SS:  Okay.

EG:  For farmers, it’s uh….

SS:  You mean they don’t charge a fee?

EG:  Setting up and selling.

SS:  Okay.  Oh, oh that’s good.  That’s good.  I didn’t know that.

EG:  We’ll give you some information later about that. Do you see a time when your family will no longer will be associated with the land?

SS:  Well, the only time I can see is when, when you get too old or something like that and can’t do anything.  I don’t believe my children will be interested in doing farming, I really don’t.

EG:  Do you think that, because they were brought up around the farming and the gardening, do you think that they would, um, at least have their own garden?

SS:  I think they would.  I think they would have a home garden based on what they have learned.  They always praise me.  They say “Daddy, ooh you sure are a hard worker.  I’d like to be like you.”  I mentor some children too in the community.  Sometimes I get them to help me in the garden.  I train them how to work and they are learning from me also.  Some of the children that don’t have anything to do in the summertime come help me pick my peas and butterbeans and be around me and help me change the oil in my tractor… and they are learning also from me.

EG:  They have a farmer’s marked in, uh, Noxubee County….

SS:  Okay.

EG:  Where they have the kids come and they pick…

SS:  Uh huh.

EG:  And then they earn money to go to camp…

SS:  Okay. Hee hee hee.

EG:  From picking for the…those farmers.

SS:  Yeah.  I had thought about…

EG:  Keep ‘em out of trouble.

SS:  I had thought about one time setting up a community garden.  We…I belong to the Raspberry Men’s Club.  We had thought about purchasing us a tractor and setting up a community garden and just having it for the whole community.

EG:  That’s a neat idea.

SS:  We had thought about that but we haven’t gotten around to doing that yet.

EG:  Have you, uh, used any…utilized any assistance, such as FSA programs or USDA programs or co-op assistance to continue farming?

SS:  Yes. I have utilized a system.  I have attempted to utilize assistance.  I speak the truth and I’m not here to make any false statements.  I went out to the Farmer’s Home Administration and I tried to get a loan.  They told me they could not give me a loan because I was in the teaching profession and I was making too much money.  I said, well you got other people in other professions that are making a whole lot more than I do.  I said, “Why are you not giving me the loan?”  I need the loan.  I want to farm.  I said, “You won’t give me the loan.  Well, I feel like you’re discriminating against me.”  From that, I was involved in a class action suit through the United States Department of Agriculture.  I was successful in that suit.  They gave me a little money out of it, but it wasn’t near enough to compensate for what I had lost.  I could’ve made more if they had given me the loan.  I would have rather had them give me the loan.  I came out behind…came out in, in the red so to speak.  I was along with a whole lot of more farmers that are still under litigation.  ‘Cause a lot of us are still not satisfied.

EG:   How has um….how would you say race has affected your farming?

SS:  (Cough).  Well, I just fore stated I feel like I was discriminated against because I was black.  Because I feel like they give other races more money than they give us.  They didn’t even want to give me the small amount that I wanted.  I said, well I knew I hear other farmers say they get almost whatever they want.  I asked for  just a little mediocre amount and I was not able to get that.  So I feel like I was discriminated against.

EG:  In one interview, we heard that, that, basically the same thing you’re saying.  But he was also saying that women were discriminated against…women farmers.

SS:   Ha ha.  I believe that.  All those minorities, women, blacks, probably Chinese…all those minority people are being discriminated against.  Indians…they discriminate against Indians…Native Americans.

EG:  How would you say the Civil Rights Movement and the years which followed affected the atmosphere in farming and in this community?

SS:  Years ago you had slavery, whereas it was against the law for people, black people, to learn how to read.  Nobody wanted you to learn how to read.  After the Civil War, people began to go to school, learn how to read, and they learned how to do things for themselves.  Along the way it has gotten a little better.  The Civil Rights Movement has been a tremendous asset to all of us.  Things used to be real bad, before Dr. Martin Luther King came into being.  Fannie Lou Hamer and Annie Devine, and all those good people…and Rosa Parks, all those good people…stood up for their rights.  Now you still have that slave mentality.  Some people still don’t want you to be successful…still don’t want to help you.  The only way you’re going to be successful now is to try to do it yourself and have a strong constitution and a strong will to succeed.  If you go and listen to people, people will talk down to you and discourage you.  But you got to do it for yourself and get out there and beat the bushes.  Things are not just going to happen, you have to make something happen.  Those three Civil Rights workers in Philadelphia, MS, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Shroener, gave their lives to help us learn how to vote.  They were killed, simply because they were trying to help somebody else.  That’s wrong.  So what you get now, you’re going to have to fight for it.  There is no harm to fight…you gotta fight.  If you roll over and play dead, you’re not going to achieve anything in life.

EG:  That’s true.  What would you say is your most memorable moment growing up on the farm?

SS:  My most memorable moment is when we plowed those mules all the time.  Sometimes those mules would have the colic…they’d get sick at night.  When they got sick at night, we would have to go up and doctor on them.  My father had a medical background.  His daddy was a doctor.  He was a self made doctor.  He used to take care of all of us when we had colds and things like that.  They called him Dr. Carroll.  He’d take care of the mules also…he taught my father how to doctor on mules.  One night that big ‘ole mule got sick…she had the colic.  You could look at her and tell because she wouldn’t be still, she just start prancing backwards and forwards.  I looked at her…I ran and told my father “I believe that mule, old Kate is sick out there.”  He said, “Well, we have to go do something for her.”  He had some colic medicine.  We got up in the little wagon and pulled her close and gave her a whole bottle of that colic medicine.  We stayed out there all night long.  It was a little cold…chilly too.  We had to build a bonfire out there.  Doctoring on the animals was my most memorable moment in farming…doctoring on those animals and things.  I loved to do that.

EG:  That’s all the official questions.  Do you have anything that you’d like to add?  Anything you want to tell us about?  Or any questions?

SS:  Naw.  I would just like to say that I’m proud you are trying to receive some history.  I am proud you came down here and asked me some questions about this.  That shows that you’re concerned..

EG:  Thank you.

SS:  Yeah.

EG:  Well, um, I thought of one thing.

SS:  Okay.

EG:  Um..um…what…how do you prepare your vegetables?  I mean do you cook or does your wife cook?  Or…?

SS:  How do I prepare my vegetables to eat?

EG:  Yeah.

SS:  I tell you one thing.  Say for instance, from my mother…I learned all of this at home.  Whenever we picked our vegetables, like peas, or okra, or butterbeans, or something of that nature, we would shell them and place them in a deep freezer.  We shelled them on a pea sheller.

EG:  There’s technology.

SS:  Yeah, technology helped out instead of this right here.  I could shell peas until my thumb was just blue.  People normally used to blanch their vegetables, but see, my mother taught me better than that.  She taught me, they say, when you shell your peas and stuff…or whatever…just wash ‘em off, put them over in a plastic bag almost full of water, close it up, and put it in your deep freezer.  When you freeze them, your vegetables are frozen in the ice, and it locks in your freshness.  You freeze it in the ice, so that automatically preserves those in the ice.  If you do that, then when you get ready to eat it, all you do is just take it out and put it in your pan and its ready to go.  So that’s, that’s a technique she taught me how to do.  And I passed that technique on to a lot of people and they say it’s a very good way and they enjoy it too.

EG:  Can you tell the difference between store bought vegetables…or like canned vegetables…and fresh?

SS:  Ooh.  Ooh, it’s a tremendous difference.

EG:  You can tell?

SS:  Ooh, it’s a tremendous difference.  That store bought vegetable it’s just not as good as that farm raised vegetables.  You see, store vegetables have gone through so many processes.  Travel from California or Mexico or wherever and they’ve lost all of their freshness.  When you bring it straight from the field and put it in your pan, it taste a thousand times better.  It really does.

EG:  Do you remember the first time you ate vegetables from a can or anything like that?  You opened a can of food or anything?

SS:  Yes, I can remember eating some when I was a little boy.  Yeah, I remember eating it.  But it didn’t taste good…ha ha ha.  It didn’t taste good.  We didn’t eat too much from the can, we ate it mostly from the fields.

EG:  Um hmm.

SS:  Ha ha ha.

EG:  Umm, I wanted to give you a little background.  Uh, in the letter, we stated that we’re working on this letter with Ben Burkett.  Do you know Ben?

SS:  Naw, I don’t know him.

EG:  Ben is uh, he’s uh a black farmer from Indian Springs, MS and he is in charge of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, which is a cooperative of cooperatives.

SS:  Okay.

EG:  And they’re almost all African American cooperatives.  And uh, my husband and I have been working with him for about 12 years.

SS:  Okay.

EG:  And um, he also works for the larger organization called the Rural Coalition, which brings together minority and limited resource farmers across the country and farm workers.  And um, next…you reminded me of this…’cause next week we will all be in Washington, DC at a USDA annual partners meeting.

SS:  Um huh.

EG:  And um, it’s the third time they’ve done this.  And they bring together some farm workers and limited resource farmers with USDA and the, they…the USDA now has a Secretary for Civil Rights.

SS:  Um huh.

EG:  And they meet with them and one the issues that is discussed is the black farmer lawsuit.

SS:  Aw, okay.  Yeah.  Hee he he.

EG:  So, I thought that, that reminded me of that.

SS:  Yeah.  Well, I tell you one thing, long as President Clinton was in there, everything was looking good.  I don’t have to get off in politics, but I, I don’t have no reason to be reserved or anything.  When President Bush got in there, I knew we weren’t going to get any help.  So we haven’t gotten any help since President Bush has been in office.  He has only hindered African American farmers.

EG:  That’s another thing about Ben Burkett.  Ben has a very large afro.  Because when Bush got elected the first time, he said that he was not cutting it until he was out of office.  He really that would only take four years.  He’s still growing it.  He’s started braiding it some because it’s rather long.

SS:  Um huh.

EG:  But he knows he’ll be able to cut it when he gets, cause he has to leave this time.

SS:  That’s right.  You’re right.  Well I hope we’re success to get somebody in there that can help us and be fair to us, because we haven’t had any success in the last what, eight years…going on eight years.

EG:  Do you see yourself farming until you just can’t walk anymore?

SS:  That’s right.  I feel like farming because, farming it helps me out physically also.  I don’t have any major physical problems now.  Of course I picked up a little weight in the education system because I was away from farming some and I wasn’t doing enough farming.  But when I was on that farm in Ofahoma, I was slim trim.  I didn’t have a weight problem.  But it still helps me out physically, I keep going. A lot of those fellows around there say “well, I wish I was like you, you’re in good shape”.  I was out there picking some peas out there, the other day, and I was just perspiring…sweat was just pouring off of me.  The man said, “Well, man, I can’t do that. You’re in good shape. I can’t do that, I’d fall out there doing that.”  I said, well, I enjoy doing it.

EG:  My granddaddy said that trick was always to get out there before the sun came up…you’d…and then you stay out there, then you don’t feel the heat as much.

SS:  Right.  Right.  That’s right.

EG:  If you go out there at nine o’clock in the morning, you’re going to feel it.

SS:  That’s right.  You’re right about that.

EG:  So it’s more gradual.

SS:  Yeah, that’s right.  But I enjoy doing what I’m doing and let folks look at me.  I believe people envy me for me raising a garden out there.  ‘Cause they tell me, some of these people, say “you work harder than any man I know around here…why you still work that hard?”  I grew a crop…we didn’t get very much rain, but my peas did well.  Everybody is asking me for peas.  Matter of fact, it was a minister out there building a house there.  He came up to me and he said…he was building a house right next to where my pea patch is…he came and asked me, he said, “Well, ooh you made a lot of peas this time.”  He said, “what do you sell ‘em for”.  I told him $15.00 a bushel.  He said, “Well, I have eight children at home and I just, I just don’t have the money right now.”  He said, “I’m gonna have to get me some whenever I get a little  money.”  And I picked a bushel of peas and I carried it to the minister.  I said, well these are your peas, you can have these peas.  He said, “What you mean I can have them?”  I said, I’m giving these to you.  He couldn’t believe.  He said, “Well, God is good. And I appreciate it.”  (Laughs)

EG:  Well, uh, I would, um….

SS:  Let me say this right here.

EG:  Um hmm.

SS:  My Christian faith, my faith in God, has allowed me to get where I am now.  I always treat people the way I would like to be treated.  My father was a minister…he was a good man…a good hard-working man.  I try to take patterns after my father because it’s very important for young people today to have role models to go after.  It was important then and it’s important now…it’s gone be important in the future…always gonna be important.  My son is a hard-working boy.  He tried to help me.  I can say it’s gone…his working attitude has carried over to his schooling.  He works hard at school to try to pass.  And right now he got a scholarship from the United Methodist organization for $2500 because he had a high average and they saw his average.  They gave him $2500 to go to Belhaven to work on a scholarship in Business Administration. Yeah, so, so, I…my trust in God, my faith in God, has allowed me to get where I am now and I just appreciate being able to be in the land of the living.  (Laughs)

EG:  Is there is anything else you wanted to add?

SS:  Well, that’s about it.  I’m so, so happy that you all have come to interview me.

EG:  Well thank you so much.  I’m so glad to that Otis gave us your name.