Essie M. Johnson

Essie was born in Mangham, a small farming town located in Richland Parish, Louisiana, June 1944. She was the second child born to the union of Willie and Patty Johnson. For the first 13 years of her life, Essie lived in ten or more small farming towns throughout northern Louisiana. In 1947 the first place she remembers living was Girard, Louisiana. In 1949 her family lived in Oak Ridge, Louisiana. By 1953 they lived in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, where the very poor carried pancakes and syrup to school for lunch and the not so poor carried peanut butter and crackers. In 1954 they moved to Bastrop, Louisiana. In 1955 Essie remembers attending Good Pine High School when they lived in Ollie, Louisiana. From 1956-60, while attending Alto High School she was a member of the basketball team. In 1957 her parents marriage fell apart and the family separated. Essie and her two sister lived with their mother while her brother Willie lived with their father. Once her parents seperation was final, Essie had to take on more responsibilities. The only way Essie and her family could earn a living was to farm and work the land in the Alto, Louisiana area. One of the best product to grow at that time was cotton.

"Cotten was planted March or April and all summer you tended to it. Then in August you started picking it, that lasted until maybe November. Once the land owner got his share and other expenses were paid we got anywhere from $500.00 to $700.00 for the season."

At the age of fifteen Essie put on her best outfit to have her picture taken at a local shop. In December 1961 Essie moved to Monroe, a small city on the banks of the Quachita River (5-21-05, To Be Continued)
photo circa 2008

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