Bessie and I have been together since time began, or so it seems. Bessie is my little sister, only she’s not so little. She is one hundred and one years old, and I am one hundred and three. Bessie was what we used to call a “feeling” child; she was sensitive and emotional. She was quick to anger, and very outspoken. Now I was a “mama’s child” and followed my mama around like a shadow. I always did what I was told. The way I see it, there’s room in the world for both me and Bessie. We kind of balance each other out.
Neither one of us ever married, and we’ve lived together most all of our lives and probably know each other better than any two human beings on this earth.
Bessie and I still keep house by ourselves. We still do our shopping and banking. We were in helping professions—Bessie was a dentist, and I was a high school teacher—so we’re not rich, but we get by. Papa always taught us that with every dollar you earn, the first ten cents goes to the Lord, the second goes in the bank for hard times, and the rest is yours, but you better spend it wisely. Well, it’s a good thing we listened, because we’re living on that hard-time money now, and not doing too badly.
Bessie and I have lived in New York for the last seventy-five years, but Raleigh will always be home. Raleigh is where Mama and Papa met, as students at St. Augustine’s School, which was a school for Negroes. Mama and Papa got married in the campus chapel back in 1886 and raised all ten of us children right there at good old “St. Aug’s.” Papa became vice principal and Mama was the matron, which meant she ran things day to day at the school.