Ruston, Lincoln Parish
RealVideo clip (1:20)
This story was recorded September 16, 1993, by Pat Mire and Maida Owens.
This one you never heard either, you know. Way back, long years ago, you know, it used to be kind of rough on black people in Mississippi. You know. And this sharecropper, you know, and his family, they sharecropped down in Mississippi. And end of every year, when it was time to settle up, sharecropper didn't have nothing coming, you know?
So, he told his wife one Saturday night, he said, "Old Lady," he said. "We're going to go ahead and die here." He said, "What you do," he said, "you pack up all our belongings [and get out of here] tonight. We're going to leave Mississippi. We going move out. We got to leave in my old car."
They packed up, loaded up. Got his family and car, and down the road they go. Head out of Mississippi, going north, okay? They got pretty good piece up the road there, and after a while, here come this big rattlesnake out from under the seat. [Laughs.]
And this guy jumped up on the seat, said, "Pass me the pistol out the glove compartment over there." He said, "There's a rattlesnake back here."
The rattlesnake jumped over and said, "Mister," he said, "please don't shoot me." He said, "I ain't going to bite you." He's going, "They been rough on me down here too, so I'm trying to get out of Mississippi, too." [Laughs.]
Louisianans, like other groups, often tell tales at the expense of their neighbors. There is, for example, a rich tradition of jokes in which Louisianans best boastful men from neighboring Texas. Here African American Robert Albritton capitalizes on the poor civil rights record of Mississippi, which was the focus of national attention during the 1950s and 1960s after the murders of Emmet Till (1955), Medgar Evers (1963), and three civil rights workers (1964).
This story is usually much longer when Robert Albritton tells it; he shortened this version to suit the needs of the video documentary.
For more information about this and related tales, refer to the book, Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, published by University Press of Mississippi.