Because she never married, inherited none of her father's farmland, and attended to a son with Down's syndrome, Lutisha Pettway struggled more than most women of her generation in Gee's Bend.
I was born July 10. I don't remember what year. It's on my Social Security card. I was born right here over on that hill. Mama died when I was real small, and Daddy remarried this lady, my stepmother. She didn't spend no time with helping us children much; used to go over to where her other children stay. I farmed. That's all I did do—farmed cotton, pulled corn, worked for my daddy. We come up hard back at them times. Didn't get much schooling. I didn't care for farming none. I just wanted to get away from down here.
I remember when [Rentz's] agents come to take away everything we have. One of Papa's pigs go up under the barn and wouldn't come out for nothing. They didn't take us's chickens. Us could take the eggs to the store, trade for food. Nickel worth of cornmeal last you a week at that time. Had to. Little bitty piece of meat the size of your hand cost fifty cents. We didn't know nothing about candy.
Later on, I worked in Mobile for six years and six months, laundry work and clean house for white folks, for good pay. I sent the money back to my father to take care of my children. I come back here when he took ill, and before he passed, he ask me to stay here. He turned the land over to my brother Yancy.
During the project days, I took up weaving out to the school. They wouldn't let us have none of what we made. There was three or four looms. The thread was different colors. I don't know what they did with all that cloth we made. I had nine children. Two of them died. I had to make quilts for them, and all my quilts was scrapped up out of old clothes back then. Later on, when I was a good bit older, I bought cloth from the store sometime. I did my work by my own hand, by myself. Sometime I put pieces together with a machine after I got arthritis. I learnt to knit; loved to sit down and knit. That arthritis hurt my hands so bad. Twisted around. My sister Allie bring me string, all kind of colors, and I knit it together into a sheet.
I like to sing in church, but don't sing with no group. Just me and Allie—two sisters sit together, sing together. Friendship Baptist—Reverend Bennett's church.
I had a hard way to go after I got up there. Come on the hard side. Sure did. I just always had to see to myself. Do most things by myself.