The Union Recorder


June 7, 2014

It was a cotton-picking good time



While navigating that first row I quickly discovered that cotton balls, while soft, were protected by some very sharp little protrusions that would stick tiny holes in my fingers making the job aggravating and painful. I also learned later on that for my efforts I would be rewarded by receiving pay in the amount of 5 cents for every pound I picked. At the end of that first day I brought my sack in to be weighed and it came in at 25 pounds giving me a grand total of $1.05 for my efforts. It became obvious to me that cotton sure was light.

That was nothing compared to my little brother who got a late start that day due to a doctor appointment he had been forced into. He only picked a pound, thus getting a single nickel in payment. I’m not sure he got to crying because he only got five cents or because his fingers were bloody.

Anyway my experiences in rural cotton farming taught me that from a labor standpoint there were probably other fields of endeavor that I would prefer to go into. I also quickly figured out that from a financial standpoint somebody might have been making a killing growing cotton but it sure wasn’t me.

So as the song says, “Look away,” and I think that’s probably good advice.

Alvin Richardson can be reached at


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