Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mistress's Hoop Skirt

When I went back to work, when Richard was a few months old, we were living near the Haight Ashbury, on Fell Street, in San Francisco. I found a local woman, about the age I am now, to care for him.

Mrs. Johnson was a wonderful care giver. She understood and loved children, and they loved her. In addition to caring for children, she provided a home for a blind woman who was over 100 years old, having been born into slavery. One day, when I went to pick Richard up and was waiting for Mrs. Johnson to bring him in from playing in the backyard, I got to talking to this woman and she told me a story that she had lived and heard, but did not remember.

She was a toddler during the Civil War. The Master was selling off all of the slaves that he could spare; as a baby she was on the list. Her mother had come to the plantation with Mistress; they had grown up together. So, when the time came to round up and sell the slaves, her Mistress had gagged her and tied her to her own leg. She was carried around under this woman's hoop skirts until the danger had passed. She told me that her mother had told her that when they gagged and tied her up, she would cry and so would her mother and the Mistress; they knew no other way to save her.

Isn't it truly amazing, the things people do?

8 comments:

Author Mom with Dogs said...

Wow...

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

This story freaks me the heck out...must have been stuffy under there, huh? But what a caring woman, to save the baby for her mother.

Rain said...

what a great story of human courage. And a reminder of from where we have come

Ms. Mamma said...

Incredible, indeed.

kenju said...

How wonderfully compassionate she was to save that baby. That's a great story!

Ginnie said...

Pretty amazing. It reminds me somewhat of the book "Ahab's Wife". There are actually some caring people in the world.

Anvilcloud said...

That's quite a story to have heard from such the person who it actually happened too -- even if she didn't remember.

Bitty said...

What a wonderful story. Thanks for telling it.