Faye: I still have the first thing I ever earned. I have the first thing I bought with what I earned. When I was married, my husband couldn’t understand why I had this little sweater and this little purse that looked really pretty ragged. And he took it to the Goodwill. And I went and I got it back. And I told him – I said, “you know, if you’ve never hoed for hours on end in a a watermelon field, and you’re ten and the other men are grown and you’re trying to keep up with them, under that hot, hot sun when you’d rather be in a swimming pool or at the beach.”
I went and I got it back. I still have it. And I’ll probably have it when they cremate me. Then somebody can take it to the Goodwill. I said, “I know you probably don’t understand it.” He did his own share of dirty work and awful things. “… but for a ten-year-old going down those fields, I always want to remember what that felt like, and I don’t ever want to do that work again – ever.” I don’t know that he understood, but that’s okay. He didn’t have to. He didn’t have to do it. And I didn’t have to do it. I chose to do it. I asked to do it. I wanted to do it. But I didn’t want to do it again.
… I can still see it. I can see that field; I can hear them singing; I can feel the cadence of it.
Lee: Who was singing?
Faye: The men that were working in that field, side by side with me. One of them, his name was Hilton. That’s all I remember – Hilton. They sang. I mean, they sang to be able to put up with the boredom, I’m sure. They’d sing, and there would be a certain cadence that they would use. But it was hard for me to keep up, as a ten-year old.
From an interview with Faye Ellis-Jones, summer 2010.