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Angel Kelly
Angel Kelly

It Ain't Hard To Tell

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It Ain't Hard to Tell

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Written by: John Bettis, Gene Redd, Roy Handy, Cleveland Horne, Robert Bell, Ronald Nathan Bell, Robert Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Richard Westfield, George Brown, Claydes Smith, Steven M. Porcaro, William Paul Mitchell, Nasir Jones

It was about two o'clock and Agnes Avant had just finished washing up her dinner dishes. A short woman, only five feet in height and weighing over two hundred pounds, she was dressed in a black silk skirt, blue and white checked cotton jacket, and a big print apron. Her well-rounded face, big bright eyes, mass of black wavy hair, and complexion glowing with health little show the hardships she has undergone in the last seventeen years. When complimented on the beauty of her hair, she remarked: Yes, my hair is pretty. The Bible says a woman's hair is her glory, and there's a 0002 2 lot of truth in them words, too, if you know'd it.

No'm, I don't mind telling you whatever you might want to know 'bout me. And I don't see no sense in putting no other name different from mine to what you write 'bout me neither. I've lived a life I don't mind nobody knowing and I hope when I ain't able to keep going, there'll be some way provided. Yes'm, I've made a honest living for me and my children seventeen years and I ain't got nothing I care 'bout keeping under no cover. People needn't come up and say they had to do this and that sharp trick to get along 'cause if they live a decent life, there'll always be some way provided.

I've got three children - all them's boys. Charlie's nineteen, Louis, he's seventeen, and Jasper's fifteen. I've sho' had a tough time raising my younguns, too, but I thank the Lord for sparing me to get them up big enough to help themselves. I've had lots of trouble and hard times to get along, but by the help of the good Lord and other people, I've pulled through to the present and I'm thankful. Yes, I'm thankful to Our Father and President Roosevelt for what they've done for me and my children.

Long as my father and mother lived, I never did know what it was to want for anything. I was born and raised in No. 6 Township, Georgetown County, on my father's farm along with twelve other head of children. No. 6 Township, that's thirty-two miles from Georgetown, twixt there and Hemingway. I always was a poor girl, but we never know'd what it was to want for anything. My father owned a two-horse farm and we made enough of provisions on the farm to last from one year till the next. One year we made thirteen banks of eating 0003 3 potatoes and two big barns of corn outside of our cotton. Then in the summer we made enough market stuff to buy all our little extras. Yes, if I had today what I used to have I wouldn't have to worry over life. But I'll tell you, when you lose your mother and father, seems like everything you've got's gone.

I went to a little school called Carver's Bay first and then the name changed to Dunnegan School. Yes'm, when I left that country, the school was still passing through the name of Dunnegan. But going to school in my young days sho' wasn't near like it is now. I never went to school no higher that t the fourth grade and then I hadn't done much. We had to leave home at seven-thirty o'clock in the morning to get to school on time and walk every bit of one and one-half miles. School lasted from nine o'clock to four o'clock and that'd put me to get home 'bout five 'clock in the evening. Soon as we got home, we had to go to work on the farm. Finally, it just got to the place where I had to quit school to help my father make a crop. You see, there wasn't but one right time to make a crop just like I learned afterwards there wasn't but one right time to go to school. Children's wonderfully blessed to go to school this day and time, I'll tell you.

He comes back off and on to spend a night, but he ain't been no service to us in seventeen years. Some people's ashamed to tell such stuff as that, but I ain't. The good Lord knows it and I don't care if the world does. A woman can't help her husband walking off and leaving her, but she can live a respectable life. When he left me with them younguns and went to work in the cotton mill, he was making eighteen dollars a week. He know'd my little children were suffering, but he wouldn't give us a penny. Yes'm, my oldest boy was a-crying for bread and I don't know what we would've done, but the good Lord opened and provided a way. And since I've been in Marion, I've worked by the hardest and shed many a tear, but he still don't give us near a cent - always acts like he's down and out when he comes to see us.

I stayed on where I was for five years after my husband left me and worked for what I got. Worked on the farm in the summer and took in washing in the winter to keep us going. I decided while I had my three children in a hut, I better keep them there 'cause I know'd it's hardly ever two families can get along. Yes'm, I've kept house to myself ever since I was married.

I was getting along so poorly a-working so hard down in Georgetown County, I moved to McCall and worked in the cotton mill for twelve years. My husband was a-working in a mill to Rockingham, North Carolina at that time. I made four dollars a week there a-working on the winders and at them rates, I could buy all we wanted to eat and pay house rent out of it, too, but I sho' 0005 5 can't do it now. I worked on that job till the mill shut down and left me to get along best I could them last four months I stayed to McCall. Why I picked cotton along and along for a living and the good people give me something to eat.

I moved to Marion in 1929 and rented a house over on Montgomery Street for six dollars a month. Well, it ain't no use to round a stump to tell the truth - might as well come up and face the fore. I've raked lawns and cleaned house for people many a day to get something to eat. Mrs. Green, she's the best friend I ever know'd. She's all the time a-going 'bout this town and helping some poor creature get along. She learned 'bout the trouble I was in and she went to people all over this town and said, 'Agnes is here on us with those three children to take care of and if she can get anything to do, she'll do it. Now, people, I want all of you to give her a job.' Yes'm, Mrs. Green taken that much interest in me and I'm thankful to her for it.

Well, I went to doing house cleaning for a dollar a day and I don't say it 'cause it's me, but ain't nobody never complained 'bout my work yet. Cose getting a day's work onced in awhile wasn't enough to feed and clothe me and three younguns and pay house rent, too, but everybody was mighty good to help us along. Why those people at the schoolhouse give me enough of what the 0006 6 school children carried there at Thanksgiving for poor people to last me till Christmas. Then they give me lead at Christmas to carry me over another month. And Judge and Mrs. Green, they've sho' been good to me. Don't seem like just a friend - seem more like a mother and a father. Yes'm that's just the way I feels 'bout Judge and Mrs. Green, 'cause when you lose your mother and your father, seems like the sun don't shine nowhere. Then there's Miss Eunice Clover, she's got out many a day and got me something to eat. Don't know where she got it from, but she'd come stepping in with it herself.

From then on, I kept on a-catching what work I could, 'cause I've got the will to do and don't mind putting my hand to any work that's got a honest living in it. It's many a day that I've worked for the county cleaning up the City Hall and Health Department. But I've done so much hard work in my life, I can't work like I used to. Bringing children into the world, tending them, a-laboring to make a living, and doing all the housework, that's more than half if you know'd it.

I kept on doing a day's work round and 'bout till this government relief work come up. I didn't join it right off, but Mrs. Green's sister got to be head over the sewing room and she sent word for me to sign up on the government work. Mrs. Green explained to her that I was embarrassed to do such as that, but she said I might as well get it as the others that was getting it. You know, it wasn't a bit of trouble for me to get on. They started me off making quilts in 1934 and then I worked myself up till I got to be a pretty good seamstress. They raised and cut us so much on that sewing room job till it's hard to tell how much I was getting, but our average wages was twenty-six dollars a month mostly. Then the government give us some commodities along with the pay such as: plain flour, pack of butter, and some prunes. Best thing they 0007 7 give us was this here smoke meat - that was just fine. Cose it was all a help, you can feel that.

I started working for the government in 1934 and in 1936, I thought to be sure they'd cut me off. My boy, Charlie, went off to the C.C.C. Camp at King's Mountain. But 'bout the time they made up to take me off the sewing room. Charlie quit and come home - just didn't like it. You know, while that boy was in the C.C.C. Camp, I never got a dollar of his money. He'd spend his part soon as he got it and time the other part come home to me, he'd be here to grab it. Never stayed in the C.C.C. Camp but four months. Woman, I'll tell you, I've worked for myself.

I worked on for the government till 'bout a year and six months ago. Charlie got a job at the veneer plant and just 'cause he was making a $1.90 a day, they took my relief job away from me. Charlie lost his job at the veneer plant last July and we've sho' had it tough getting along since then. I never tried to get back on the government work. Ain't spent on thought over it only I knows some people's working for the government that don't needs it like I does. There's plenty women foreman have husbands a-working and just 'cause my little boy had a job, they cut me off. It's a dishonest proposition the way they work so unfair with it. But I don't reckon I ought to talk such 'bout it. They considered I didn't need it and if it ain't helping me now, it's helping some other poor somebody and I'm thankful for them. Anyhow it don't matter with me - anything that's got a honest living in it, I'll go right at it. Still, when this government work plays out, a heap of people go feel what a pinch is. They'd feel just like my boy, if they was cut off now - wouldn't have no job and couldn't get none. Can't hardly buy a job these days. 041b061a72


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