Lucy narrated this when she was just 10; it was the end of term and the purpose of her narration was to show what she had learnt and retained from the biography of George Washington Carver we'd read. again, she dictated, I typed.
The Life and Times of George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was born a slave but his mother Mary was taken away by slave traders so he was brought up by his mother’s master and mistress who he called Uncle and Aunty. George used to sit outside of the church and listen to the singing in the village but he wasn’t allowed to go in the church because he was black. He also wanted to go to school and learn about botany and plants but he couldn’t go to school in his village because the school was only for white people. He heard about a school in another town that black people could go to. He really wanted to go there so he decided because Uncle has set George free, George knew he would be allowed to go if he wanted to. He told Uncle and Aunty that he wanted to go to the school and that he would go there by himself. So Aunty baked him some corn dodgers which were George's’favourite food and George started out.
After a while he began to wish he hadn’t already eaten the corn dodgers but he kept going because he really wanted to go to the school for black children. He got to the town. He met a lady called Aunt Maria and she said that George could stay with her if he wanted to. George did want to but after a while he saw that at the school there wasn’t exactly the things he wanted to learn. He wanted to learn about botany and plants but the teacher didn’t teach those kind of things. Eventually George decided to leave that town..
George walked to another town where he stayed with a lady he called Aunt Lucy. She owned a laundry and sometimes George helped her with her work.
When George was older he thought he would like to go to a college so he started to send letters to colleges asking them if they would have him as a student. The problem was even thought sometimes letters got delivered to him, there was another George Carver in the town so the letters were really for the other George Carver. That was when George decided he’d better put a letter between George and Carver so people knew he was a different George Carver. So he chose the letter W and some of his friends thought it should stand for a name. One of his friends joked and said, why didn’t he say ‘Washington’ and George thought that was quite a good name, so now his name was George Washington Carver.
Still, not many colleges wanted to enrol someone who was black. But someone told him about a college that had once had a black student and that they might have him too. They did and George went to that college.
One of George’s favourite studies was agriculture. He thought he would like to be a teacher of that. Another college wanted someone to teach agriculture and told George that he could be the teacher but before they could start the school they had to build the agriculture building first! Which means that the students had to build their classroom before there could be students in it.
When that part of the school was actually finished they didn’t even have a laboratory or anything to use to help with their studies but George said that they could use things around them and they did. George also did experiments himself. Lots of people grew cotton but George knew that cotton was bad for the soil. He tried to find ways to make the soil better soil to use. He thought of two ways – the sweet potato and the peanut. He found lots of ways that those two crops could be used as well as just helping the soil. The reason they could help the soil was because they had lots of nitrogen in them and they didn’t use much, so they would give nitrogen to the soil and not use it up.
Once he even made a whole meal with just peanuts and the people he served it to didn’t even know that everything was made out of peanuts!
He gave speeches about how to do farming and make the soil better for the crops. He also wrote a handbook called ‘300 ways to use the peanut.’
He used to take long walks in the wood every day. When he got much older a museum was made in honour of him and the President gave him a medal.
He died when he was 79 years old.