I ever heard or read the word psychic, I heard of a man with psychic powers. He
lived on a farm near Mt. Vernon
during the years of the Great Depression. Most people who spoke of Mr. Cozier,
an African-American farmer, referred to him as a fortune teller. Being a white
child during the years of segregation, I heard only white people refer to the
man, whom they simply called Cozier. They might use the ďNĒ word before the fortune
tellerís last name.|
Primarily, it was women who went to Cozierís house,
perhaps on a weekday after they had cleaned the house and cooked the noon meal.
Of course, they were only the women whose husbands owned cars. Cozierís farm was
located two miles from U.S. Highway 67. The narrow, unpaved lane that led to the
farm had been cut through a heavy growth of blackjack trees, the branches of which
at some points formed a canopy over the road
Some of the husbands did
not approve of their wives seeking the advice of any fortune teller, certainly
not one who was African-American. A story that circulated around the community
was that one afternoon a certain housewife had driven her husbandís car to Cozierís
house without the husbandís knowledge. She took a dollar with her because she
knew that was the price for the consultation. Unfortunately, while the woman was
at Cozierís, a heavy rain fell. The clay road to the highway became so slippery
that the womanís car slid into a ditch on her way back to the highway. Cozier
summoned a neighbor with a team of mules to pull the womanís car out of the ditch.
red mud on the automobileís tires were proof that his wife had driven somewhere
in the country while he was plowing in the cotton field.
had occasion to get a glimpse of Cozier once when my father went to consult him.
In the late Ď30s my father was employed by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration,
one of Franklin Rooseveltís New Deal programs. He had to report occasionally to
the AAA office in Sulphur
Springs. He was responsible for keeping records on aerial maps provided by
the agency the location of fields that farmers had planted in cotton.
He kept these maps, along with various other records, in a cardboard box. One
Friday afternoon he took the box from the office and went to his car, which was
parked in the courthouse square. My father found that another driver had parked
her car in front of his and had accidentally attached her front bumper to the
bumper of his car. Before disengaging the bumpers, he placed the box of records
on another car parked beside his. After his car was free to move, he drove away,
forgetting to put the box into his car.
On Saturday morning when my father
went to his car to get the box, he discovered that it was missing. He knew he
left the office with the box, but he was not sure afterwards where he put it.
After he had fretted most of the weekend about the box, my mother suggested that
he consult Cozier, who purportedly had the power to tell him where the box was.
After Sunday dinner, my parents, my younger brother and I traveled in
our 1934 Ford sedan down the narrow lane to Cozierís house. Two or three other
clients had arrived before us, so my father had to wait twenty or thirty minutes
before he could see Cozier.
We sat in the car while we waited. When it
was my fatherís turn, Cozier came to the porch of the dilapidated house and beckoned
toward us. His hair was grizzled, and he wore glasses. My mother and my brother
and I stayed in the car while Daddy went inside the house.
later he came out with a smile of relief on his face.
ďCozier says to
git a good nightís sleep and when I report to the office tomorrow morning, the
maps and the papersíll be there.Ē
When Daddy arrived home from work the
following day, the rest of us learned that Cozier was right. If Daddy had not
set the box atop a strangerís car and driven away, I never would have had the
opportunity to see Cozier, a man who had piqued my curiosity for a year.
Robert G. Cowser
20 , 2011
Robert G. Cowser Columns