“My name is Robert. I’m 80 and was born in July, but I never kept up with the date. I grew up in Phillipp. It’s by Clarksdale and one of those little towns that were once all around. Shepherdtown was close to here, but they shut it down. There were little stores called cotton houses. Groceries didn’t cost much. It isn’t like that now.
I never really had a chance to go to school. When I started working, these roads were dirt. All that you saw around here was woods. We cleared the land with broad axes and clear-cut saws. That was hard work. We dug up the stumps with shovels, and the mules pulled them out of the ground. We were paid $2 a day for clearing. We cut crossties for railroad tracks out of some of the trees. They paid 10 cents a tie. We cut down a lot of trees. There were no tractors. We plowed the fields with mules. Now they have machines to do the work we did.
I’ve lived around here fifty-something years and raised up seven boys and eight girls. I worked for the man who used to farm this land. We raised soybeans, cotton and rice. I picked, planted and drove the tractors. The tractors made it easier. Life hasn’t been that hard. I worked when it was time for me to work. When the man retired from his farm, I did too. He told me I could stay here.
A friend and I were sitting on the porch four years ago when a big military plane crashed in the bean field over there. It killed all of the folks in the plane. About an hour later there were highwaymen all over the place.
I have a garden with watermelon, peas, okra, squash, cucumbers and cantaloupe. I have pigs in the back. A few of the pigs came up missing. I guess someone stole them. I used to kill the pigs and eat them, now I just sell them.
I have everything I need right here. I sit around praising God. The way I see it, you can have fun and enjoy life and come on back. Don’t raise sand with anyone.”