I was born in Halifax County in the backwoods on the Williams Farm. My family was what we call sharecroppers. This means that the landowner would give you a place to live, make sure you had food to eat, and provide whatever other needs that you had. In return, you would plant the crop, and when it is sold, the landowner would get whatever you owed him. If there was anything left, it would go to the farmer. If you had a bad crop that year, well, you would have to start all over again.
We moved so much that it was hard for me to ever get used to one place. I always wondered if it was because Daddy felt that he was being cheated out of his money, or was it because of his drinking problem. Anyhow, I guess I will never know.
We finally made a good move in the early 1960s. We moved to Warren County on a farm belonging to Mr. Elmer Harris. He and his wife, Mrs. Marie, showed love and kindness to us in ways that we hadn’t been used to.
That year, things began to look up for us. Daddy had planted some of the crop, maybe some cotton and corn. The cotton was already above group, and our garden was looking real good.
Suddenly, Daddy got sick and had to be put in the hospital, so what will we do? Here we are in a new place with no money, no transportation, a new crop in the ground, and no one to work it, but out of the goodness of his heart, Mr. Harris brought in people from his other farms, and, maybe even the saw mill to work the farm until Daddy was better. He also provided transportation for Mom so that she could visit Dad in the hospital. For these acts of kindness from Mr. Elmer, I will always be thankful.
Daddy got well, and we shared quite a few more farm years with Mr. Harris. Also during this time, Mom had started helping Mrs. Marie with her cooking, and she and I both did some of the house cleaning. On special occasions, they would cook big hams and other goodies, so Mrs. Marie would always make sure that Mom would bring some home for us.
Even after Daddy stopped farming, Mr. Elmer still looked out for him. He bought some land and help Daddy build a house for us. Daddy paid him back some at the time until he was paid off.
I will always hold these memories close to my heart for a couple who had great wealth, but were so willing to reach way down to help others.
MARY G. RICHARDSON