Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tobacco Road

Thank you, friends, for wanting me to keep my blog going. I guess I just needed a little affirmation that it made a difference to someone other than me.

When I was a little girl (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth) my brother and I spent part of each summer with some of my father's family, usually my grandmother. But one summer we spent several weeks with an aunt and uncle who lived in Quicy, Florida (near Tallahassee). My uncle was a tobacco farmer and while we were there we spent about three days working with the tobacco. I don't remember exactly what part of the work my brother helped with since he was younger than me, not used to hard, physical labor and definitely inexperienced with the machinery used in growing tobacco. And believe me, I wasn't acquainted with hard physical labor myself.  I was assigned to work in the curing barn. I don't know which one of us got the worst end of the deal. But neither part was fun. We got up early to beat the heat and spent the daylight hours tying "hands" of tobacco leaves. A "hand" consists of about 20 tobacco leaves and we gathered them together and tied them with string so they could be hung from the barn and seasoned. After months of seasoning, the tobacco would be taken to auction and sold.  It was hot, hard work and I was probably more a hindrance than a help, but it wasn't from lack of trying. I wanted so badly to tie the hands as fast as the experienced workers. Which, obviously, wasn't ever going to happen. But whenever I think of farm work I think of that experience. When I saw the tobacco barn above during my trip to Asheville it brought back all sorts of memories - the energy-draining sticky heat, the dust motes floating in the streaks of sunlight coming through the boards of the barn, the pungent (but surprisingly pleasant) smell of the tobacco leaves, the taste of the sweet tea we drank constantly and the blisters that formed on my city girl hands even under the gloves I was wearing. But I also remember the friendly camaraderie while we worked, the gentle teasing the older workers gave me all the while helping me out and giving me credit for far more work than I did. And being paid something in range of $10 for my three days work. I also remembered fishing in my uncle's pond, catching tiny little fish coming through the overflow pipe and my aunt cleaning and cooking them for us even though they were barely more than minnows. I remember how good it felt to crawl into my bed at night feeling the window fan blowing over me.

My, how life has changed.


Joy Journal: 27 goldfish


Sherry C said...

I'm loving your tobacco barn pics, and the story that goes with them.

Linda B said...