Notes and Documents
The Discovery of Being Black: A Recollection
ADAH DEBLANC SIMOND*
TO BE BORN A GIRL CHILD-THE FOURTH IN A ROW IN A FAMILY WHERE
boys were very important-was to be born handicapped. To be
born black as well was to be doubly so. Fortunately, both of these handi-
caps did not need to be dealt with from the beginning, for I was eleven
years old before I was made aware of my second handicap.
I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, November 14, 1903, while my
mother was attending a sick relative. When I was a month old she re-
turned with me to what was home-Marbiham-a small hamlet not too
far from New Iberia in Iberia Parish. My parents had had three daugh-
ters already, so another girl was a disappointment to my father. What
with whooping cough and thrush (probably diphtheria) by the time I
was three, I was the oldest child, followed by four brothers in a row.
With Mama as the pivot and hub around which my world moved, we
were a closely knit group. Each day Papa left early and returned late.
The fields and the livestock took all of his time. As the boys grew big
enough, they could follow him on some occasions, but "girls had to stay
with their mothers." It was the custom. Our world was a small one. I
cannot remember when I did not have responsibility. Some of my earli-
est recollections are of hanging small pieces of wash on bushes or the
fence and bringing them in when dry. I learned early to fold small
pieces such as diapers and washcloths and to stack them. I cannot re-
member when I started watching "the baby." "Don't let him fall. Don't
let him crawl to the fire." I can't remember when I started churning the
butter, gathering the eggs-it seems I always did.
Among the happiest times were those when we all worked in the gar-
den, fed the chickens, and made ice cream. Mama was a fun person who
enjoyed her children, in fact we were all she had. Neighbors were few
and far between. Visits were rare. We learned our prayers very early. I
still can hear Mama say to the smaller ones, "bless" yourself. And as I
tended the baby, I too learned to "bless" him when I put him to sleep or
*A public health educator for twenty-five years, Mrs. Simond is now retired. She is cur-
rently writing her autobiography and is working with the black community of Austin in
making it aware of its heritage.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/. Accessed March 9, 2014.