Sentences: An Archive Essay

[Each of  these sentences is drawn from an oral history source. A new indentation indicates a

new speaker. A full list of sources is listed in the end-note.]


They killed him on his horse as he was returning from the vineyards.

                                       When the sun was at its hottest, when it was killing us, we sat
down to rest in the shade of the nut trees.

                                   Mary and Willie Durham wuz my mammy and pappy, en dey
belong ter Marse Spence Durham at Watkinsville in slav'ry times.

Apparently, they cut off his face to show their leaders who this Garabed Amiralian

                                                                              It were a log o' wood set upright, like
other gateposts, and when it 'ad first been put in, the gate 'ung in its proper place.

     Just three days before, we had gone to see the grapes to see if they were ripe
enough to be blessed.

     Only three days later, the town crier called out that we had to leave the town and
 that on August sixth, they were going to bring us wagons to help transport us.

                                                                  A lot of patients came in with mitral
stenosis, mitral regurgitation, or mixed lesions.

                                                                              But years of draining 'ad lowered the
peat all around it till the gate 'ung up in the air by this time.

          They started in the morning and it lasted all day.

                                                                                                     I was in my car and I
decided to treat myself to an ice cream cone.

                    My poor uncle said that there were many others they could play with, but
the Turk mukhtar said that he would show him how he, too, could dance.

                                     After a while, I said, 'I don't want to rest now. I'm going
 to look for water-roots.'

                    So they tied his hands and began to cut him up with a knife so that he
would jump around.

                                      Dey says I wuz jes fo' years ole when de war wuz over, but I
sho' does member dat day dem Yankee sojers come down de road.

          In the evening, the government gave orders to stop.

                                   I left, and that's when the labour pains started.

     They said they would bring a wagon or cart in front of each house.

                                                                  A number of them were in oxygen tents on
the medical floor and in severe heart failure.

                                                                  Would the valve implant heal, or would it
eventually be dislodged?

                    I saw this with my own eyes, standing with my mother.

                                   I thought, Eh-hey, am I going to give birth now?

When his daughters went to find his body, the priest told them that he had no face.

                              That night I and two other boys slept at this Turkish agha's house.

                                      When word cum dat de Yankee sojers wuz on de way, Marse
Spence en his sons wuz 'way at de war.

                    They placed my uncle on the floor and put nails through his toenails.

                              In the morning my mother brought a bundle of clothes for me and
 left it with a Turkish woman whose husband had worked in my father's bakery

                              I was there when she came to the house to leave my clothes.

                                                                                                     So I pulled into 31
Flavors on Melrose.

                              I was sitting there and I saw her, but it was as though I was in a

                                      Miss Betsey tole my pappy ter take en hide de hosses down in
de swamp.

        There was a silly incident.

                                                                  we had to determine the optimum shape for
the sewing ring

                                      My mammy help Miss Betsey sew up de silver in de cotton bed ticks.

        I'm almost ashamed of it.

                                   I walked a little farther, dug some roots, and set them in a pile.

         I was covering an accident on the freeway.

                                      Dem Yankee sojers nebber did find our whitefolks' hosses and
deir silver.

                             I never saw again any of those clothes or anything my mother might
 have left in them for me.

                                                                  The initial valve we put in was handmade
 and constructed from acrylic.

         The police officer told me to move my car, so I moved it.

                            The deportation caravan now went on without me; they still had two
 hours to make it to the River Euphrates.

                                       When the pains became sharp, I sat down.

                            When they got there, we heard they were all killed.

                                                                                                     I got my ice
cream, pistachio, that's my favorite kind, and I got back in my car and I drove home.

     Once we left, we started walking and walking for months.

                                                                                Some on foot, others in the wagons

          He told me I hadn't moved it far enough and ordered me off the interstate.

We got farther away from the houses and reached an open field.

          It was way the hell out of the way of the scene.

                                                                  Then we went to stainless steel but found
that stainless steel could corrode when exposed to the circulation for some time.

We noticed that all the animals were gathered there – our sheep, cows, horses

                                       No one was with me.

I remember my aunt jumping over the fence and going to our cows and hugging them.

                                                                  So we searched for a better material, finally
 settling on Stellite 21, a very strong nonferrous material that could be machined and
core cast.

          I didn't think he had any right to do that.

There were crowds from every street, all going to the same place.

          They just picked me up, dragged me through the grass and put me in the back of
 the police car.

                    General Miles told us that he wished us to go with a young officer,
Lieutenant Gatewood into Mexico, find Geronimo, persuade him to make peace and
come back and be delivered to General Miles.

          I had all sorts of burns.

                                      Miss Marzee, she wuz Marse Spence en Miss Betsey's

We walked and walked until dark, and I noticed how all the people coming from
different directions would end up on the same road.

                                      She wuz playin' on de pianny when de Yankee sojers come
 down de road.

                                                                  We also had to work on thinning the struts
down to the greatest possible extent without weakening them to reduce the amount of
foreign material exposed to the blood.

          To this day, I don't think they would have done that to a white woman reporter.

     My legs became all swollen because I was so tired.

          I felt that at that moment my life didn't mean anything to these guys.

                                          Two sojers cum in de house en ax her fer ter play er tune
dat dey liked.

                    We first went into the Western part of Chihuahua, coming finally to an
old mine near which there was a number of Mexicans packing their burros with
 acorns which they were carrying away.

                                       Soon little Nai was born.

                                         I fergits de name er dey tune.

                         The soldiers would come and give us a bad time.

                                       I cut her umbilical cord and picked her up.

                    We talked with these Mexicans who knew of Geronimo and they told us
where they believed we could find him.

There were gendarmes on both sides of the road to make sure that no one swerved
from this line or fell behind.

                                           Miss Marzee gits up fum de pianny en she low dat she ain'
gwine play no tune for' no Yankee mens.

     Sometimes my mother would carry me; otherwise, my older sister did.

                                       I collected the pile of roots and walked back to the others.

                         Others from the hills and mountains would come and snatch girls and
baggage, or whatever they could.

                    We hit the trail at once, traveling all night long.

                                       Everyone was lying in the shade, sleeping.

the road on both sides was filled with dead bodies

                         You scream "Gendarme, gendarme", but there was no help

                    We came to Fronteras, Mexico, where there was still another party of
 American troops encamped.

     We had no shoes.

                                     There was no mixer, no power amps – it was a guitar amp and

                                         Den de sojers takes her out en set her up on top er de high
gate post in front er de big house, en mek her set dar twel de whole regiment pass by.

Women who had long braided hair – their hair comes off the head and their bodies
were all swollen.

                                                                                                  We're the ones that pick
up the cans, dump 'em in the hopper, and do the manual end of the job.

                                                                 I was born in the High Street.

                         Sometimes it would be the turn of a pregnant woman.

                                     All DJs in the Bronx started like that.

It was summer, you know, so the fat from the body would be melted around the body.

                         They would look at each other and say, "boy or girl", and pierce her
belly with the sword.

                                      She set dar en cry, but she sho' ain' nebber played no tune for
 dem Yankee mens!

                                     He used to switch from turntable to turntable on a guitar amp,
from channel one to channel two.

                                                                I recall the silver grey painted standard gas lamp
and the lamp lighter arriving, pole in hand, on his bike.

                                                                                                  I wear an apron over

                  Slowly, I led it to a small valley, and there I butchered it.

          So I kept walking – with my eyes and heart behind me.

                                                             I saw him reach up into the lamp with the pole
and the sudden ignition of gas and the mantles glow brighter.

                                   De Yankee sojers tuk all de blankets offen de beds.

                                          it wasn’t even the Furious at the time; it was Grandmaster
Flash and just two MCs

                    We remained over night in the camp of the soldiers and the following day
Lieutenant Gatewood led us out to try and locate Geronimo.

They took part of our group at one point to a cave and killed them.

                                          Flash could come out in front of the building, set up a table,
and use the electricity from the light pole on the street corner.

                                                                                                  By the time you get two
or three days in these clothes they're ready for the washer.

                 I said a prayer to God that what I was doing was sinful and that if we had
not been brought to this condition, I would never do this.

                    We came to the top of a mountain near Fronteras where Geronimo’s band
 had just recently camped.

            He said that his legs were bleeding from rubbing against each other.

                                                                                                  Working behind the
 truck, you never know what might shoot out from behind there – liquid or glass or plastic.

                                   Dey stole all de meat dey want fum de smokehouse.

The way they killed them was to put them in the cave, place wood in front of it, and
burn them.

                 I begged God to forgive me for this wrong. 

                    We spent the night on the mountain in Geronimo’s abandoned camp.

            But how can a mother leave the child?

                                                                  We had to fine tune the ball-to-orifice ratio:
if the ball was too small in relation to the orifice, it could stick in the orifice

They burned them alive, and there was no escape from it.

                 So with these words, and crossing myself in the name of God the Father,
the Son, and Holy Spirit, I killed the calf.

                                                                                                  When these blades in the
hopper catch it and bring it forward, it spurts out like a bullet.

                    The following morning, we followed their trail down the mountain to the
Bavispe River and there we realised we were very close upon his band.

            My father said, "Leave him. We will be left behind, too. We will all be left.
Armenian woman, leave him."

                 There were three of us, so I divided it into three sections.

                                   Dey bash in de top er de syrup barrels en den turn de barrels
upside down.

                                                                                                  Two years ago, I was
struck in the face with a piece of wood.

                    We spent another night at the river and the next morning Lieutenant
Gatewood told us two scouts that he wished us to go on alone

                 The head and the legs I buried there.
                                                                                                  Cut the flesh above the
eye and broke my glasses.

Walk, walk, walk; the world didn't seem to end.

                                                                  if the ball was too big, then the cage would
be too bulky

            Finally, they left him, sat him down, and left some food with him.

                    We took the sheets that we had with us, placed the meat in it on top of
sticks and grass so that the blood wouldn't come through, and walked with it.

         We talk about these things because our hearts have burned.

                    we two, Martine and Kayitah, climbed another mountain in which we
were sure Geronimo was camped

     She would tell her story, over and over: "I killed two of them, I killed two of them."

                    Geronimo had his men stationed out among the rocks with their guns

     She would be sitting on the floor, crying and crying, pulling her hair.

                    Katiyah had a cousin in Geronimo’s camp who recognised him

                                                            The Armenian’s heart is burnt.

                         In the morning I woke up – a sweet sun came out and I stood up and
 now I am crying, saying, "Mommy, Mommy," and eating whatever grass I can.

     Our neighbour used to come over sometimes and say to my mother to come and
listen to this poor Miriam Hanem.

                         All alone, with no-one around in the desert, I am walking, calling for
 my mother.

                    Geronimo told us that while he had in the past broken faith with the American soldiers, he was now willing to meet them and make peace.

                         Crying and eating grass.

                                                                  And the valve being produced by Edwards
 life sciences right now is the same as the one we had arrived at in 1965.

     She would repeat. "What happened to the one who was alive? The wolves ate him; the wolves ate him.
One died, I know. The other one the wolves ate."

     I, too, used to go to look.

                    Geronimo then had cooked some mescal and from this he took in his two
hands enough of this mescal to make a lump about the size of a man’s heart.

                    This he squeezed together, wrapped it up and told us to take it to
Lieutenant Gatewood


A survivor from Marash, in Donald E. Miller and Lorna Touryan Miller, Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (1999, California: University of California Press), p62

Nisa, in Marjorie Shostak, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung woman (1990, London: Earthscan), pp205-206

Lula Flannigan, in Work Projects Administration, Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States, (2004, http://www.gutenberg.org, E-Text number 13847)

William Henry, in Sybil Marshall, Fenland Chronicles (1998, London: Penguin), p87

A survivor, in Miller et al., Survivors, p70

Albert Starr, in Alan B. Weisse (ed.), Heart to Heart: The Twentieth Century Battle Against Cardiac Disease: An Oral History, (2002, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press), pp143–145

A survivor from Marash, in Miller et al., Survivors, p62

Steven Spielberg, in Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (1999, London: Bloomsbury), p279

A survivor, in Miller et al., Survivors, p65

A survivor, in Miller et al., Survivors, p107

Charlise Lyles, in Studs Terkel, Race: How blacks and whites think and feel about the American obsession (1993, New York: Anchor Books), p178

A survivor, in Miller et al., Survivors, p131

Martine and Kayitah, in Eve Ball, Indeh: An Apache Odyssey (1988, California: University of California Press), pp106-107

DJ Baron, in Charlie Ahearn and Jim Fricke (eds.), Yes Yes Y'All: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-Hop's First Decade (2002, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press), p27

Roy Schmidt, in Studs Terkel, Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do (1985, New York: Ballantine Books), pp150-152

Unknown, in Ruth Kent, Mary Mays and Rae Jinks (eds.), Kelvedon Speaks (1999, Kelvedon: Broadfield Publishing), p15

Busy Bee, in Ahearn et al., Yes Yes Y'All, p xi

A survivor, in Miller et al., Survivors, pp157-165

A survivor from Chanakkale, in Miller et al., Survivors, pp99-100

edmundhardy has published poems and reviews and curates the continually unrolling poetry magazine "Intercapillary Space"

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