Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blackwell Recalls Early Life In Covington

In 1975, Norman Blackwell of Folsom celebrated his 100th birthday. In the article below, he shares some memories of his early life and Covington.

Norman Blackwell, 100, Recalls Life In Covington

When Norman Blackwell was a young man, he used to bring his cotton down to Covington and stand at the docks on the Bogue Falaya River and arrange to have it shipped by schooner across Lake Pontchartrain.

"Sometimes it took a while to get waited on," he said, recalling how the end of Columbia Street was a bustling center of commerce, with schooners lined up in the Bogue Falaya River.

The streets of Covington were mud then, and the flies were bad. "You couldn't leave your groceries in your wagon, because if the oxen didn't get it, the flies would," he commented.

This Saturday Blackwell will be 100 years old. A resident of the farmland east of Folsom, he has worked the land for over 60 years, raised a big family and made many friends in the Covington area.

One of his most pleasant memories is how he went to borrow $25 to buy 80 acres of land he wanted to homestead. His friend at the bank asked him if he was planning some kind of "spree." but he explained it was to buy some land. From then on. he was a farmer, growing cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, peas and a variety of other crops.

He recalls selling a full grown cow for only $15, but admitted that was a long time ago. He farmed up until eight years ago. Now he lives with his son, Woodrow "Chink" Blackwell. His wife died in 1958, and for ten years, he remained on his 20 acre farm, plowing the ground with his old mule "Kit."

"Kit" was a good plow mule, he recalls, and a bit cranky when being fed. It used to kick the side of the barn to scare the chickens away from its feed, leaving a
well-dented spot in the sheet metal. He and Kit worked together well, and he told his son never to call Kit to dinner unless he really planned to feed her. She didn't like to be fooled

Back in 1875, when Blackwell was born, the Blackwell family had a Negro youth who stayed with them, working for them. His name was Ned, Blackwell recalled, and he was one of the family, growing up with the rest of the kids. When it came time for him to get married, he wedded a Washington Parish girl, and they inherited 40 acres of land up there. Blackwell remembers his father going to visit them often, and they coming to visit the Blackwells.

Among his best friends in Covington is Philip Burns. He told how Uncle Phil went to Covington one day and came back saying he was thinking about going into business. Shortly after that, the Burns dry goods store was opened and came to be one of the community's leading establishments, "It was a dream come true for Uncle Phil ," Blackwell said.

He said he took the train to New Orleans once or twice. but he does not remember much of the place.

Now at 100 years of age, he watches a little television, sits on the small porch in his rocking chair and eats heartily. On occasion he walks around the yard, hitting pine cones into small piles to be picked up and taken away.

He has five brothers and sisters living, three older than he is. He had ten children, nine still living, ranging in age from 55 to 79. A good many of them will be here Saturday at his 100th birthday party.

 Click on the image to make it larger. 

October 19, 1974 St. Tammany Farmer

1975, an interview

A year later, in 1976...