Tennessee 6

Listen to Tennessee 6, a 58-year-old man from Ridgetop, Tennessee, United States. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 58


PLACE OF BIRTH: Madison, Tennessee

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Caucasian




The subject grew up in Ridgetop, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, but has lived in several different regions.


The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Patricia Childs






Well, I grew up in Ridgetop, Tennessee. It’s a little village, I’d call it. Maybe a — more like a little hamlet, ’bout (uh) 20 miles north of (uh) Nashville. Ridgetop is up on a — sort of a plateau, an’ the air was nice an’ crisp an’ clean up there, ’n’… Have a lot o’ fon’ childhood mem’ries, but one that I guess I’ll never forget was the time when — we lived in a house, an’ there was a dirt road beside our house, ’n’ there was a family that lived further down this road, an’ they were really poor people. An’ there was a fella there, his name was Julian. I guess Julian was the — one of the sons of Mrs. Adams. He had a brother, Slim Adams. An’ Julian lived in a little short trailer house, like a little mini camper-thing. It was a tiny little thing, an’ he– he cooked an’– an’ heated by wood: wood fire, wood stove, an’ Julian would take me possum huntin’ in the woods at night. He had an ol’ dog. I think the dog’s name was– he called him “Shep.” Was just an old cur dog. An’ I was at the age — about the time when I was (um) experimenting with smoking cigarettes, so I’d use the excuse, for Julian to take me hunting in the woods, to go out an’ smoke cigarettes at night, so, one night I decided I want to get out, ’n’ this was before I had a car. ’at was probably 14 years old, or so. An’ I went down to Julian’s place, an’ it was dark. An’ I walked down ’at long dirt road, ’n’ got to Julian’s house, an’ I said, “Julian, take me (uh) — Let’s go possum huntin’.” He said, “Now, it’s not a good night. The moon’s not right. We wouldn’t do any good.” I said, “Well, we could go anyway,” so I– finally I talked him into goin’, an’ he called the dog, got the dog there, an’ I said, (uh) “Where’s your gun?” An’ he said, “I’m tellin’ ya we’re not goin’ do any good tonight, so I’m not even gonna take the gun.” So we left an’ we went way out in the woods, deep down in the woods, ’n’ heard the dog start barkin’ ’n ’bout 10 minutes. He said, “Well, that dog’s got somethin’ treed down there, so …” We walked an’ walked through the woods. It was pitch black. I mean, just terribly dark, quiet, an’ all you could hear were our own footsteps, kinda crunchin’ through the leaves an’ the branches of the woods. An’ this was in the fall, an’ it — but it was a warm night. So he had the flashlight with ’im, an’ he’s shinin’ flashlight aroun’, an’ we could hear the dog barkin’. By the sound o’ the dog, we kinda homed in on where the — where the dog was. An’ we got to this tree. An’ the dog was right under the tree, lookin’ straight up, just yellin’ ’is little head off, y’know. Shine that flashlight up, sure enough, up in that tree was a — just a big fat possum. An’ the tree wasn’t — but about, maybe six inches in diameter. It wa’n’t real tall, an’ the leaves had already fallen off this tree, because it was fall. But there were still a lotta other trees ’t had leaves on ’em. So Julian said, “Boy, ’a’ sure is a nice possum. I hate to let that thing get away.” An’ I said, “Well, I told ya to bring the gun.” An’ he said, “Well, I tell you what,” said, “you stay here, an’ you make noise. An’ that possum won’ come down. An’ I’ll go back an’ get the gun.” An’ I said, “OK.” So he had the flashlight, an’ he left an’ I could see, an’ hear ‘im, walkin’ off in the distance. An’ the light got fainter an’ dimmer, y’know. An’ finally it got outta sight. When he was gone, an’ the light was gone, it got really black in those woods. ’n’ if you’ve ever been in the woods late at night, it gets kinda scary with all the sounds ’n’ things, that start comin’ back to life after you’ve quiet’d down for a little while, so, I was there, an’ course the dog, then knowin’ that we had found the possum; tThe dog left, an’ ran off somewhere else, so it was jus’ me there, under that tree with that possum. In about ten or 15 minutes, but it seemed like about an hour an’ a half, I could hear these sounds in the woods, ’n’it sounded like somethin’ walkin.’ An’ I thought, ’ll that may be a bobcat or a bear or somethin’, so I started gettin’ a little scared. So I climbed up in that tree, to git off the ground ’n’… I c’d climb up a six-inch tree pretty good at that age. I got up in there an’ got on a couple o’ the lower limbs an’ jus’ kinda set there, ’n’ wrap my arm aroun’ the tree, one o’ the limbs ’n’ jus’ hung on. After a little while, I could hear the noise o’ Julian comin’ back aroun’ the– the hillside. I c’d see the light flashin’ a little bit, knew he was gettin’ close. He started callin’ to me, “Where are ya?” I’d say, “Here I am.” An’ he kep’ comin’ closer, an’ then I c’d see the actual beam of light ’s he got a little closer. “Where are you?” I said, “Right here.” ‘’n’ he’s shinin’ the light all around on the ground. He said, “Where? I can’t see ya.” I said, “Right here, right here,” an’ he kep’ shinin’ but he didn’ see me ’n’ I said, “Up here.” An’ then he started laughin’, and said, “Up where?” An’ he shined the light up, an’ there I was in that tree with ’at possum. So when he shined the light up, over my head, I looked up, ’n’ that possum was about two feet over my head. I mean jus’ right — I c’d reach up and touch the possum. So he said, “Well, if I’d known you c’d climb that tree like that, I wouldn’’a’ gone back for that gun, I’d just had you bring the possum down.” I said, “You’re crazy. I’m not goin’ bring this possum down.” He said, “No. All you gotta do’s jus’ grab ’im by the tail, an’ tug a little bit ’n’ possum’ll jus’ — they kinda go into– what we call “playin’ possum.” They git scared.” An’ tha– he called it solling [spelling?]. An’ I said, “No.” He said, “Really. I don’ wanna shoot that possum. Jus’ grab ’im by the tail an’ tug a little bit, an’ you can jus’ literally pull ’im right down the tree.” So I got real bold an’ I did. I reached up an’ I grabbed ’im by the tail. An’ that possum curled that ol’ rat tail roun’ my han’, an’ I tugged a little bit, an’ started pullin’ down, followin’ Julian’s instructions. The possum was just kinda holdin’ onto the tree, an’ he started sorta backin’ down. An’ I got down, started climbin’ down the tree, pullin’ this possum down the tree. So, when I got low enough, Julian came over. Then he reached up, ’n’ grabbed the possum ’n’ grabbed it by the tail, ’n’ shook it real hard, ’n’ the possum played dead. We walked outta the woods, ’n’ he was carryin’ that possum by the tail, upside-down, an’ I’ll never forget that s’ long as I live. So when we got back, I said, “What’re ya goin’ do with it?” He said, “Well, I’m gonna cook this thing tomorrow.” So he had an ol’ garbage can that ju’ looked like’ bout a 50-gallon metal can or somethin.’ He took the top off ’n’ put that possum down in, ’n’ slammed the top down on that can. ’N’ I went on home an’ the nex’ day, I saw ’im, an’ I said, “Julian, did ja cook that possum?” He said, “Sure was good. I saved some for you.” An’ I said, “I might can pull one out of a tree, but I’m never gonna eat one.” So, that was my experience with Julian Adams an’ the possum.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Jacqueline Baker








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