Mary Starks was born the first of ten children on January 26, 1922, and reared in the Chestnut Grove neighborhood of Esmont. She tells of how her paternal great grandparents, along with other freed slaves from Campbell County, were given land settlements all along the James River, and how her great grandmother's brother was sold away from her in Richmond. Her paternal grandmother, a midwife who used her horse and buggy to travel to clients, lived with the family, and Starks recalls how her grandmother told her "the facts of life." Starks's father was away from home most of the time, working the railroad in Kentucky, and her mother worked two days a week in nearby Howardsville doing domestic work for a white family. Mary Starks babysat her siblings and cared for the home, and throughout her life tended to ill relatives. She married the man she fell in love with at the early age of fifteen, in order to get away from the strict surveillance of her father. Starks recounts daily chores, the teachers at her school in Chestnut Grove, trips to Scottsville, various health care resources, and other aspects to her life growing up in the Esmont area. She discusses at length her perceptions of racial segregation and her many positive social relationships with white people from her youth into the present day.