Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Henry "Shoat" Brown, July 15, 1992

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:09 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: It's July the 13th, 1992 in Hardinsburg, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: John Henry "Shoat" Brown is introduced. He talks about growing up in Hardinsburg, Kentucky with his siblings. He talks about his family history back to his grandparents' generation.

[Audio quality begins poorly but improves at 1:20.]

Keywords: Birthplace; Brothers; Grandparents; Nicknames; Parents; Siblings; Sisters; Uncles

Subjects: Families.; Hardinsburg (Ky.); Traditional farming

00:06:23 - Gender roles / childhood home

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Partial Transcript: Now when y'all were growing up did you boys have certain things to do and the girls have certain chores to do?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how chores were divided between himself and his siblings. He talks about growing up on a tenant farm.

Keywords: Brothers; Chores; Duties; Gender roles; Houses; Jobs; Laundry; Mothers; Rooms; School; Sisters; Tenant farming; Work

Subjects: Agriculture.; Country life; Families.; Farm life.; Farm tenancy; Rural children; Sharecropping; Traditional farming

00:10:18 - School

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Partial Transcript: So you moved up there--

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about attending a segregated school until he dropped out to work on the farm.

Keywords: Dropping out; Farming; Teachers; Working

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Country life; Farm life.; Rural children; Rural schools--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky

00:13:09 - Typical day and meals as a sharecropper

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Partial Transcript: Now growing up then, what was a typical day for a sharecropper?

Segment Synopsis: Brown describes a typical day as a tenant farmer and the meals he would normally eat.

Keywords: Beans; Breakfast; Cornbread; Dinner; Fields; Food; Lunch; Meals; Supper; Working

Subjects: Canning and preserving; Country life; Farm life.; Farm tenancy; Sharecropping; Traditional farming

00:18:23 - Weekends

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Partial Transcript: Now how did that change on the weekends?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how his schedule differed on the weekends, with work ending at noon on Saturday. He talks about bathing, visiting his grandmother, and attending church.

Keywords: Bathing; Butter; Children; Church; Clothes; Cows; Food; Games; Grandmothers; Groceries; Meals; Milk; Playing; Saturday; Sunday; Town; Water; Wells

Subjects: Country life; Families.; Farm life.; Recreation

00:29:10 - Being disciplined as a child / literacy

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Partial Transcript: So you went to school off and on then till seventh grade?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how and why his mother would discipline him and his siblings. He talks about whether he can read and write.

Keywords: Alphabet; Brothers; Chores; Fighting; Literacy; Mothers; Punishment; Reading; Siblings; Sisters; Switches; Teachers; Whippings; Writing

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Discipline of children; Families.; Rural children; Rural schools--Kentucky

00:34:29 - First experience sharecropping

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Partial Transcript: Now tell me about the first tenant place.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about his first job as a sharecropper, how much he was paid, and how he was treated.

Keywords: Death; Fathers; Grandmothers; Houses; Money; Tenant farming; Treatment; Wages

Subjects: Farm tenancy; Sharecropping; Traditional farming

00:41:11 - Living with family

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Partial Transcript: So when your father died you moved in with your grandmother.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about why he and his family moved in with his grandmother, and later his uncle.

Keywords: Aunts; Brothers; Crops; Grandmothers; Hired out; Houses; Jobs; Labor; Money; Mothers; Payment; Sewing; Tobacco; Uncles; Wages; Work

Subjects: Families.; Family farms.; Farm life.; Farm tenancy; Farms, Small.; Sharecropping; Traditional farming

00:49:39 - Marrying his wife

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Partial Transcript: Now let's get off of work and talk about, uh, relationships and people and all that.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about meeting his wife and why they got married. He says they lived with her parents briefly after their wedding.

Keywords: Children; Courting; Dating; Hardinsburg (Ky.); Honeymoon; Parents; Pregnant; Relationships; Restaurants; Wife; Women

Subjects: Families.; Marriage; Married life

00:54:09 - More on sharecropping

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Partial Transcript: What was his name?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks more about his experiences as a tenant farmer, how he was paid, and how he spent his money.

Keywords: Children; Christmas; Crops; Groceries; Houses; Loans; Money; Payment; Pickles; Presents; Strokes; Tenant farming; Tobacco; Tomatoes; Wages; Water; Wife; Working

Subjects: Country life; Families.; Farm life.; Farm tenancy; Sharecropping; Traditional farming

01:05:12 - Suffering a stroke

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Partial Transcript: So then you had your stroke and where'd you go? Louisville, or?

Segment Synopsis: Brown describes the time he suffered a stroke and was taken to a hospital in Louisville. He talks about how his life changed after the stroke, including his new interest in religion.

Keywords: Black churches; Children; Churches; Crops; Hardinsburg (Ky.); Hospitals; Income; Insurance; Louisville (Ky.); Money; Paralyzed; Prayer; Religious; Wife

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; Cerebrovascular disease.; Families.; Medical care; Religion; Stroke

01:13:01 - His children's education

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Partial Transcript: Now did you push your children to go to school?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about why he felt it was important for his children to be well educated.

Keywords: Death; Graduated; Graduation; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Jobs; Twins; Wife

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Education--Kentucky; Rural children; Rural schools--Kentucky

01:17:17 - Current farming

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Partial Transcript: Now since you've gotten able, do you do any tobacco farming or anything?

Segment Synopsis: Brown says that he does a small amount of farming now simply because he enjoys it.

Keywords: Exercise; Income; Money; Pickles; Tobacco

Subjects: Farms, Small.; Traditional farming

01:20:18 - Technological innovations

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Partial Transcript: Okay, now I'm gonna ask you some questions.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about when he first got electricity, a gas stove, and a driver's license.

Keywords: Drivers license; Driving; Electric stoves; Electricity; Gas stoves; Refrigerators; Tractors; Wood stoves

Subjects: Country life; Farm life.; Rural conditions; Rural electrification; Technological innovations

01:25:12 - Holidays / living in Louisville, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, now we'll talk a little bit about Christmas and big holidays and homecomings.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how his family celebrated Christmas. He talks about places he has traveled, and briefly living in Louisville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Buses; Cap guns; Clothes; Jobs; Owensboro (Ky.); Presents; Shoes; Toys; Transportation; Traveling; Wages; Working

Subjects: Childhood; Christmas; Families.; Holidays--Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Rural children

01:30:27 - Integration

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Partial Transcript: --John Henry "Shoat" Brown.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how society has changed since integration, and discusses his views on race relations.

Keywords: Changes; Children; Color; Generations; Interracial dating

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky

01:34:48 - Societal changes

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, people now, we hear a lot about how they've changed.

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about how society has changed since his childhood and discusses his views on religion and government assistance.

Keywords: Disability; Food stamps; Government assistance; Honesty; Jobs; Lies; Religious; Welfare; Work ethic

Subjects: Economic assistance; Kentucky--Social conditions; Religion; Welfare recipients--United States

01:42:44 - Advice for future generations

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Partial Transcript: I understand you're a baseball--or softball player--or like softball, is that right?

Segment Synopsis: Brown talks about watching his sons and grandsons participate in sports. He talks about whether he would want his grandson to be a farmer, and gives advice to future generations.

Keywords: Changes; Children; Church; Dropping out; Education; Football; Future; Generations; Government assistance; Grandchildren; Grandsons; Hardinsburg (Ky.); Learning; Machinery; Manpower; Marriage; Price supports; Religion; Softball; Sons; Strokes; Tobacco; Travel

Subjects: Agricultural subsidies.; Agriculture--Economic aspects--United States.; Agriculture--Finance; Agriculture.; Families.; Family farms--Finance; Family farms.; Farm life.; Farms, Small.; Sports; Traditional farming

01:52:12 - African American farmers

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Partial Transcript: Why aren't there a lot of Black farmers?

Segment Synopsis: Brown discusses the lack of Black farmers in his area, and his experiences with discrimination. He tells a story about his ancestors who were slaves. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Rough"; Black farmers; Danger; Discrimination; Hardinsburg (Ky.); Intermittent work; Jobs; Landowners; Money; Payment; Rivers; Slave trading; Slaves; Stephensport (Ky.); Treatment; Wages

Subjects: African American farmers.; African Americans--Agriculture; Agriculture--Economic aspects--United States.; Agriculture--Finance; Family farms--Finance; Farmers.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Slavery; Traditional farming