Bessie Smith came through on 11th December 1967. She greeted George Woods with: Hello Massa! , in a thick Southern accent.
After much toing and froing George and Betty learned that she was Bessie Smith and that she had been working for forty five years as a slave in the cottonfields of Alabama, as her parents had. Nevertheless she had been treated fairly well.
She loved "singun" and wondered whether the sitters ever did.
Apparently she was free of hate now as she had now a star on her forehead.
Bessie devoted herself in her present abode to the welfare of others. She was teaching the "wee ones" over there at her own school.
When Bessie passed over she was met by her parents, brothers and sisters.
I was so surprised I had no got wings! I sure did! When I realized where I was I felt behind my back, and I hadn't got no wings at all, you know! I didn't know what to think. I could see all them other people all around me, and no one had wings! And I thought well, am I in Heaven? Because no one's got no wings here? But I realized that you don't have wings there. But I was always taught, you know, that when you went to Heaven you had great big wings, and the better you was, the bigger your wings was.
Bessie said that she was now living in a beautiful house in lovely scenery. She even had a pet:
I call her Matilda, that's what I call her. I call her so because she's a beautiful girl. She was a big cat when she was on your side, but she's three-four times bigger over here. I guess it is love that makes her that big, you know. She talks to me too! But she don't talk with her mouth, she talks with her mind, and I knows what that girl thinks.
You know what I got too? I got them dandy shoes, you ever did see!
Greene/Woods: "Have you really?"
Bessie: "I sure have."
Betty Greene: "You did not wear shoes in the cottonfields, did you?"
Bessie:"No, but I have got real nice shoes. I always wanted a pair of real good shoes, you know, and one of the first things I was presented with when I got here, was these dandy shoes."
Betty Greene: "What are they like, Bessie?"
Bessie: "Oh, they're real nice."
Betty Greene: "Can't you describe them to us?"
Bessie:"Sure. They got good heels and they're pretty and very black and they got little balls."
Bessie:"And my hair! Oh, if you could see my hair. I was so pleased with it. It's really nice and straight and long, you know. I look after the little ones.
Betty Greene: "You look after the little ones?"
Bessie:"Yeah, and I am being helping them over and helping them when they get here and if they have not got their mama and papa here. If I can help in any way, I will, you know. I teach too in the school."
Betty Greene: "What do you teach them?"
I had no education on your side of life, I got. But I am mad about education since I have been here. Oh boy, oh boy! There is not enough I couldn't find out about education. I wanted to know this and I wanted to know that and, you know, they tell me: "You want to know too much too soon, you do. So, I says, well I've got to learn, I've got a lot of catching up to do. And I've been studying and studying and now I've been nosing if they got some more things. Oh, boy, I'm glad to be a teacher. I loves eduction. I think education is a marvelous thing, don't you?
The conversation went on for ten minutes more. Then the power had weakened and Bessie's strong voice changed into a whisper. Mickey popped in to say goodbye and that was the end of that seance.
For the entire audio clip of the communication of Bessie click here.
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This page initiated: 4 April 1997, revised 7 July 2006
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