As a five or six-year-old I did follow along with the plow as my grandfather furrowed out rows to be planted with cotton seed on a small red hill patch located near my home. I also followed along when he plowed his more fertile fields for tomatoes, corn, squash and beans. Sometimes he even let me try to handle the unwieldy plow but my rows were not very straight. I was his number one field hand…his only field hand until my stinky little brother was born when I was five. The cotton field field had so much red clay I honestly don’t know how anything other than broom straw and rocks grew there. “Little Donnie” would follow along as my PawPaw “geed” and “hawed”, keeping his horse on his path while attempting to create straight rows. My job, in the early spring of the planting season and my life, was to hand water the emerging cotton plants breaking through the dry clay crust on that hill. A bucket would be dipped from a nearby stream and carried to each plant and ladled, a cup at a time, until the process had to be repeated when the bucket emptied, which was much too often. Later as the season turned with the leaves, I would help pick the same cotton when it matured, a very painful process for my young fingers. After filling my small but heavy “poke”, I would follow my grandparents down to the cotton gin located across from Pettus’s store just a hundred yards or so from my house. Here, our cotton would be weighed and graded before being placed with like-graded cotton. The cotton bolls were “ginned”, or seeded, and the remaining fluffy and dirty raw cotton was pressed into five hundred pound bales, wrapped with a thick burlap cloth to be transported by the truck load to the cotton mill. After my grandparents were paid off, I would be rewarded with a trip across the road to Pettus’s store and given a “Sugar Daddy” for my trouble. At the time I could not have been paid better.
A Southern boy comes of age in the Sixties in PATHWAYS Download on #Kindle today at http://goo.gl/ZFIu4V