Annie Mae Young
When I was growing up, I went to school but didn't get to but seventh grade. I had to walk about eight miles to school. We used to get there and go around picking up trash to put in the old heater to keep us warm. As I grow on up, I got married when I was about sixteen, and started to raising children and working hard in the fields.
I was born in 1928, way out where at that time they call Primrose; later on, the part I lived on they called Young's Place. The boss man owned that land, Herbert Hall Wilkinson. Lula Pettway was my mother; Albert Pettway was my father. They farmed cotton, corn, peas, sweet potatoes. My daddy raised a lot of sorghum cane for syrup. I lived in a log-cabin house with about twelve of us children. We used to plaster the house walls with magazines and used to make our sheets out of fertilizer sacks. I just played a lot when I was little. Some of my brothers and sisters worked the fields, but they never did make me do that. They had me to do washing, cooking, cleaning up. The best part of the old days for me was playing baseball out in the fields. I was the best batter on the team. I run good, played good. Used to walk down to Gee's Bend to play against the girls down there. Everybody want to get Annie Mae to play. "She's good." I used to help Mama work in the garden, raising collard greens, raising chickens. I love to raise chickens now, too. I used to love to ride the mule. We had a pet mule, name of Ollie, used to let us get up and ride his back. I used to could plow like a man. Once I was grown, I could always work my crop out good, get finished, and go help other people. Always was smart, loved to be doing something and helping somebody.
I was staying with my mama when I first started to quilting. My daddy brought me some cloth from Camden where they was giving it away. I didn't cut it up or nothing; just quilted it like it was. I started cutting and piecing cloth when I was about thirteen, fourteen, something like that. I always wanted to be like a little lady, do pretty things. I was using dress tails, tear them up and put them together, anything I could find. I used the old pants legs from my brother Gaston clothes. That was about all I had back then, old dress tails and pants legs.
I never did like the book patterns some people had. Those things had too many little bitty blocks. I like big pieces and long strips. However I get them, that's how I used them. I liked to sew them however they be. I work it out, study the way to make it, get it to be right, kind of like working a puzzle. You find the colors and the shapes and certain fabrics that work out right. I always like cotton, but not the other stuff too much. Didn't like silk, or crepe, and didn't use wool much. I stayed with what I started with: old clothes that I could tear up. It always come out level.
When they open up the quilting bee up there, they didn't want the kind of sewing and piecing I do, and I didn't like what they was doing. They had to do things too particular, too careful, too many little blocks. So I never did have nothing to do with them. My sister Mattie Ross worked up at the bee. They say she was one of the best ones up there.
My husband, Lucius Young, and me had nine head of children—six boys and three girls. We lived down toward Gee's Bend but not that far. He got killed in a car wreck in 1970. We didn't get along so good anyway. He treated me bad with other women.
After he died, I worked down at Gastonburg for a white family—cooked and did housework. I did that about four years. I enjoyed it. We got along. When I stopped, they didn't want me to stop.
I have had a life that I would describe as good and bad. But it's pretty good now. I can go to church now with my daughter; don't have to walk. Used to have to walk so far and carry little children, so lot of the time I didn't go. And I love church and don't want to go nowhere but to church. I sing in choir. I have a group. I go out to sing at different churches. We are called the Supreme Angels. My daughter Nellie is in the group, and granddaughter Erma, and great-granddaughter Shaquetta.
I used to love to quilt. Love it. Piece quilts and get them done. But my hands got me now. Arthritis. I can't use them. I did one last year and my hands started to bothering me right toward the end. I got done with it but haven't done no more. I plan to get alright again, with the Lord's help, and I'll be back.