Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Granddad blogging: the wages of sin

Last week my grandfather described hard times raising hogs, this week they begin to get out of their financial difficulties by raising the evil weed.

But we weren’t doing any good, and my daddy decided he had to do something else, other than this hog business. Now, we did raise some wheat, but normally just enough wheat to make our flour and swap some of it for meal and some of it for chicken feed, but we never did sell any wheat that I recall. Might have sold a little.

So, Daddy thought about raising sweet potatoes, he thought about raising cotton, he thought about raising peanuts, he thought about raising soy beans and finally for some reason, for a cash crop, he would try tobacco. None of us had ever seen tobacco stalk around there then. There was a man that went to church with us about six miles from us. We were three miles one side and he was three miles the other side. He’d been raisin’ tobacco a little. He was my mother’s first cousin, I guess, they were some kinda kin anyway. And Daddy went to talk to him and we decided we’d raise tobacco.

Back then you had to pile up big brush piles and burn ‘em to kill all the seed in the ground. And then you had to break up those ashes in the ground and then you seed in that and raise your own plants, and set ‘em out.

We raised an acre of tobacco that year. We put it on the best ground we had and put the most cow fertilizer on it we had and grew it on richest spot there was on the farm. It made a fine crop and we carried that stuff to Gallatin, which was about 25 miles from our home. No, the first year he hired somebody to carry it, on a truck. They brought it back, and it had brought four hundred and thirty somethin’ dollars. There had never been that much money in our house at one time ever. And he took that check from the tobacco barn and put it up on the mantle over the fireplace and let that check set up there where we could look at it and see.

Well, the next year Uncle Ben [granddad's paternal uncle], he decided he’d raise tobacco. We had an acre and he and Robert [Ben's son] put out 5 acres, but my daddy he never would expand that big. That year the trucks were gonna charge too much to carry it to Gallatin, so they got wagons and teams and loaded the tobacco on those wagons and took old quilts and tied over it and tied it down, ‘cause it was rainin’ and they drove that 25 miles. They left about 4 o’clock in the morning and they got there about 8 o’clock that night. They slept on the tobacco floor that night in what they call the bull pen. It was just a room, there was stove in it and benches around and people could sit there and sleep and this that and the other. And the next morning they got up and drove back home.

I don’t know when it sold, it didn’t sell then, but ‘bout a week or so later. And we went in a car when it sold. So we began coming out of the kinks a little bit then. It was pretty hard for me to be against tobacco. I would have never gone to college if it hadn’t been for tobacco. I don’t guess Virginia [my granddad's sister] would have either.

I remember one story about it when we were raising it. We had what they called protracted meetings. Protracted means going on a long time at church. And then they’d usually have church in the morning or the afternoon one and again that night. The preacher that we had that time, he was against tobacco and he preached several times about how nasty chewing tobacco was and how bad on you it might be, smokin, we didn’t know. Anyway he was against it.

I remember we were down at my grandmother’s one afternoon after dinner. The preacher always stayed with my grandmother. We were sitting out there under the shade tree. And Uncle Ben said “Well Brother ????, I don’t guess we’ll be able to pay you for holdin’ this meeting.” And the preacher wanted to know why. Uncle Ben said “Well, the only money that we have comes from raising tobacco. All the people round here raise tobacco,” and said “That’s our cash crop. You against tobacco so, we just don’t feel like you want the money.”

He didn’t preach about tobacco anymore.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, VolBro was home this weekend and he noticed that the date of Dad's death had never been inscribed on the tomb. That is taken care of now. I love the Tuesday Granddad blogging. I can hear him talking as I read and it is almost......, well anyway, thanks. VolMom

Vol Abroad said...

Oh good - I was worried about that. I knew it hadn't been done, because no one had mentioned it.