Snowdigger, a life history

February 10, 2010
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As Washington, DC gets a record load of snow dumped outside, it calls to mind a WPA life history from New Orleans, blending life and death and looking for work. New Orleanian Melinda Parker told one WPA interviewer about a visit she got from her long-dead brother Jim:

   “Just the other day I was sitting down here by my stove, praying to the Lord, when who walks in the door but my brother that’s dead. He used to live in Detroit so I always called him a snowdigger. I says to him, ‘What you doin’ down here now, you snowdigger?’ And he says, ‘I just had some money an’ I thought I’d come an’ give it to you.’ And he puts five dollars in my lap. Just then it looked to me like my brother that’s a minister comes in the door and he turns to my brother and says, ‘Jim, what you doin’ here?’ And Jim says, ‘I come to give Melinda some money.’ So my brother that’s a minister, he gives me five dollars. I got so excited about havin’ that money for Christmas that I went out the house and was goin’ to tell my friend and was all the way to Saratoga Street and the money was gone … I told my brother that’s a minister about it on Christmas Day and he said that Jim knew that I’m lookin’ for a job and that his spirit is goin’ to help me find one soon.”

The full interview is at the Library of Congress WPA life histories page.

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