We the People: Meet Alma

granny-1Name: Alma Massey
Age: 91
Lives in: Mt. Washington, KY
Ethnicity: English, Cherokee
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate

“I remember Henry Reynolds – he owned the farm – and that’s where I was born. There was a lady my mom knew that helped her when I was born so they named me after her. I never inquired about where she was from but I did always think it was a peculiar name.

By the time I was eight- or- nine-years-old, I was helping to set plants and so on. When the two oldest boys left, I guess I must have been fourteen, I started milkin’ the cows and helpin’ out with the other animals. And well, if we wanted a chicken to eat then someone had to go kill one. I didn’t always have to do it – the other boys helped with most of it – and we didn’t have one very often. But I took care of ’em, fed ‘em every night, so I did have to get one a few times. You had to catch hold of its neck, grab ahold of it real tight with your finger and thumb and then wring it around and around until about the third time when its head would pop off. It didn’t take much for the head to come off. It wasn’t too messy – most of the time it would just go floppin’ on the ground. I don’t remember ever liking the brains. The other kids did. My older sister, Helen, loved to eat ‘em with scrambled eggs. But I never wanted them – I don’t know why but it just didn’t feel right.

grannyheleninjailPretty much every time there was something to do, I was out there with the boys. Settin’ the tabacca and all. We’d set the plants out, battle the worms, and then pick the leaves later on. It was a pleasant life, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed just livin’, the time, that’s all.

My brother, Elman, he’d play the guitar and Helen would sing. My grandfather and my uncle played the fiddle, all the time, every day. Yep, they enjoyed it. I liked listening to it until it went on long enough, but now I’d give anything to hear it again. They played well, they really knew how to play. When it was pretty outside, they’d be on the porch, but a lot of times they’d be in the house playing. I never did play for real. I used to chord the guitar and sing, but that wasn’t much, you know. Elman could play the guitar really well.

I hadn’t really thought about my favorite part of working on the farm. But the Bill Monroe concert was a big event. We all had a big time there. He was a favorite for a long time. They came to the school and played, if I remember right. It didn’t cost much, maybe a fifth or sixth of what it would be now, you know, just a few dollars. I got to go with Elman and Helen and it really was one of the best nights of our lives.”

Welcome to We the People, a column featuring stories and profiles of your fellow Americans because we the people of the United States need to meet one another. Click here to learn more.

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