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2 brothers from Weumpka, Ala., remember their father Ben Davis

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. Arguster and Lebronze Davis grew up on their family's farm in Wetumpka, Ala. The brothers came to StoryCorps to talk about their 1950s childhood and their dad, Ben.

LEBRONZE DAVIS: There were nine of us at home at one time. All the boys was in one room. We had two beds, two slept at the head and two slept at the feet. And there was one thing about them feet - you washed them feet before you went to bed.

ARGUSTER DAVIS: (Laughter) We only had one cash crop, which was cotton, and we were just breaking even. You had a hole in your jeans - Mama'd put a patch on it.

L DAVIS: Patch on it, and you kept right on going.

A DAVIS: You kept right on going.

L DAVIS: Kids today...

A DAVIS: Yup.

L DAVIS: ...They take jeans out, hang them on the line...

A DAVIS: Yeah.

L DAVIS: ...And shoot them to put holes in them.

A DAVIS: (Laughter) My first lesson in economics - Daddy taught it to me. We had worked and made a little extra money, and we wanted to go to the fair. I had made $6. Six dollars, man - I was on top of the world. I played games. I ate cotton candy.

I came back home, and Daddy asked me, boy, how much money did you spend at the fair? And I just held my head down and said, Daddy, I spent it all. He said, boy, you spent all your money, and haircuts gone up to 75 cents. (Laughter) So I always keep me enough money to get me a haircut.

L DAVIS: Daddy was warm. If he got it, he'd give it to you. If he didn't have it, he would tell you how to get it.

A DAVIS: You remember when Daddy started the syrup mill?

L DAVIS: Yes.

A DAVIS: Yes. And people in the community would bring their cane and millet for us to grind up and make syrup. And people would pay with buckets of syrup. I said, Daddy, why don't you let these people pay you? Because we got enough syrup to last us for a long time. And he looked at me, and he said, son, these people don't have no money to pay. That's the only way they can pay.

L DAVIS: Daddy taught us all how to do the right thing and wanted us to do the right thing.

A DAVIS: He kept me out of school one day because he was delivering lumber. The directions that were given to him were not very clear. And since Daddy - you know, he only went to the third grade, he couldn't read the address. And I said, I'll help you, Daddy. I couldn't have been no more than 8 or 10 years old. It was just heartbreaking.

You know, there are things that I try to pass on to my son. There's only two things in life a person actually owns, and that is his name and his word. And in his own way, that's what Daddy left me with.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: Arguster and Lebronze Davis remembering their dad, Ben Davis. Their interview will be archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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