Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mrs. Leona Spears of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Mrs. Leona Spears
Leona Spears was born on November 29, 1883. " That's the day I was born, " smiles Rocky Hill resident Leona Spears. In her life Mrs. Spears has witnessed the dawn of automobile, running water, airplanes, indoor plumbing and electricity. "I can remember when their wasn't a flick of electricity anywhere in New Orleans.

Tucked in her favorite rocker, legs bundled under a quilt and warmed by a crackling fire, Mrs. Spears chats. " I liked working the field with the mule. That was probably my most favorite thing to do on the farm.

"Ole Sam was the best mule we ever had. I guess we had 5 or 6 one that was with us for a spell. But Ole' Sam was the best 'cause he listened. He'd go slow and when you need him to. And he'd gee and haw like I wanted him to."

Up until a half dozen years ago Mrs. Spears still plowed a little with a mule. A step or two from her back door is her garden or 'patch' as she called it. Her patch is about a quarter acre. "I hoe it all myself, " she says proudly. I lived this because I alway ate good. I eat plenty of vegetables and greens and good meat. People don't eat right. They are too much in a hurry and they eat that food somebody else fixed for them. Better you eat food you fixed yourself.

One of the crops Mrs. Spear and her family raised was rice. "Yeah, rice. There used to be a bunch of us growing rice back then. But it played out. I don't remember when."

"I didn't much want it then. But everybody said we needed it. I'd just as soon it never came around. But they got us hooked now, so I guess we stuck with it. Seventy years ago Mrs. Spears played the harmonica. "My daddy gave me one for Christmas." Ever since then music has been a big part of her life. "I've been playing and singing in the church choir for most of my life." She taught herself to play the piano, accordion and Jew's harp.

"I just love making music. It makes me feel good. And I ain't lost nothing she smiles. Mrs. Spears can remember back when Indians still dwelled in the area. " They camp right back there." She points to the northeast. "Daddy didn't let us fool with them too much." We'd see them in the woods when we collected firewood and hunted up our pigs. She can't recall when or why the Indian left.

"Things ain't that bad for most folks today. But I do think that it was better for everybody when I was a chap. People for everybody when I was a chap. People were nicer and shared things more. People like to have you in their kitchen. And if I had too much of this or that I'd give you some. And you'd do the same for me. Today, you never know who is your friend and who is looking to get something from you.

Source: Tangipahoa's Montly Magazine/ December 5 & 6, 1984
Article written by Charley Vance