Interview with Oscar Fendler
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Can you tell me what kinds of things landowners provided tenants and sharecroppers with?


You have to make a distinction as we've discussed about land tenants and sharecroppers. And they, they, let's just say they provided them with a hundred percent of what they deemed to be necessities. And that, that doesn't only include the right to go to the commissary or the company store and buy things, but everything you could think of. Suppose you were sick, they provided you with a doctor. Suppose you had to go to a dentist. There weren't any dentist around in that vicinity, they'd take you to Memphis. Or if you had to have a surgeon, they'd take you to the hospital in Memphis. Trying to think of the...they not only, Lee Wilson, for instance, let's say in the town proper, they had to buy 500 houses that were owned, and those houses provided them with water, provided them with electricity, provided them with sewage, and that was for the tenants or for the employees that there in Wilson worked for the store or worked in the factories. Out on the farms, it was a narrow, more narrow list. They hadn't gotten electricity there in 1933. That didn't come until they created the rural electrification, you know, group. That's under Roosevelt. Later they all got in there. And, but they, they substantially the same things provided. Now go to the sharecropper. Now, the sharecropper was a different, you know, species. The sharecropper didn't have anything. The tenant owned his mules, he owned his farm equipment and everything. He was ready to work, he and his family, for, you know, producing the crops. The tenant then was hired, I mean the sharecroppers, hired by the tenant. And he was actually an employer/employee relationship, that's really what it was. And they didn't have, they didn't own anything except themselves maybe and what the clothes they had on and little food in the house, and it was up to the tenant to provide the sharecropper with his necessities in life. And he, he did that for them. And they worked and they got a share of the crop they produced.