The Union Recorder


June 7, 2014

It was a cotton-picking good time


I think there is a song somewhere that has a line in it that goes like this: “I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten – Look away…”

In the deep recesses of my memory banks that line brings on nightmares for me because there was a point in time when daddy decided to become a gentleman cotton farmer. To the best of my recollection, however, I don’t think it was actually a cotton plantation but more like a cotton field. Mind you it was an immense patch of ground, at least to a ten-year-old, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t qualify as a plantation by the standards of that day. Come to think of it, I’m also pretty sure daddy didn’t qualify as a gentleman farmer. I do not believe gentleman farmers work as hard or sweat as much as he did over that piece of ground.

I think that the general idea went something like this. Pack as many cotton plants as possible into this humongous acreage, nurse it along, keep the weeds out of it, and then pick the cotton to sell for a tidy profit. I suppose that made sense to daddy but I was not actually included in the philosophical or financial planning of the enterprise. My role was destined to be that of a manual laborer, though I was not aware of exactly what that ultimately would entail.

As I look around at the modern art of cotton farming it seems diametrically opposed to the process that we went through. For example, we did not have mechanical monsters that rolled through the field sucking and plucking the cotton balls off their stalks and sending them back into a storage unit. As you might imagine our method was much more basic and might best be described as primitive. We pulled the cotton balls off by hand and stuffed them into burlap sacks that were slung over our necks.

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