Talking Book

The Kitchen


One morning I asked my husband to build me a kitchen, and after much discussion over the erection of the kitchen, he finally agreed.

Despite my husband’s disagreement, I felt we needed to honor the traditions of the South, and have a kitchen that was separate from our home. Also, the hands and I are the ones cooking in the kitchen while John tends to the vineyards — it should be my decision how the kitchen is organized and where it is located. Having the kitchen separate from the house also allows the hands to work without my supervision. If they were in the house, John would make me sit in the house with them, and God knows how much I hate being stuck in that house.

Julius brought us to the old schoolhouse — we decided to tear down the schoolhouse, and use the lumber to make the new kitchen. As we were breaking down the schoolhouse, Julius told us a story of Sandy. I was really interested in this story, as I was in all of Julius’s stories, as it told the tale of a former slave who lived and died on this plantation. The stories of plantations and the lives of the former slaves were just fascinating to me… I wondered where Julius heard these stories. Were these the stories of Julius alone, or did the former slaves tell these stories to keep busy and entertained? My God, I was so incredibly ignorant to life in the South during the war — what heinous crimes these white men committed!! Poor Tenie!  I knew then that my decision to the kitchen would be the perfect way to honor Tenie, and the history of the enslaved South.


The building of the kitchen took John, Julius, and the rest of the hands about two months, and when it was finished, I decorated it to my liking. It was also nice to have a space to my own that was separate from the house — the hands and I could cook and speak without John or his [white] friends overhearing our conversations.

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