Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hoeing A Cotton Row

Tales of the Past #2

The cotton bolls are hanging crisp and white from the low green plants. It's that time of year and I see them as I drive from this place to another in the southeastern part of Virginia. I can't help but think of an old saying from the deep south. 'Hoeing the Cotton Row'.

What does hoeing a cotton row mean? It's back-breaking work, that's for sure. That is, if you were doing it before all these fancy, big machines took over. Thank God, for big fancy machines!! A person had to walk all bent over, dragging a long cotton bag behind them, picking and picking and dropping each ball of fluffy white cotton down into the bag. The hot sun was beaming down , sweat running down your face. The row seemed to be ten miles long!! And often there were hundreds of rows just like that one.

When I was little, I lived with my grandparents. My Mama worked in town so I went to the cotton patch with my aunts, uncles, anybody that could go, to pick those cotton bolls. My aunt made me a small sack that I slung across one shoulder. I thought I was a big as anybody. And, yes, I picked a small amount of cotton. I wish I still had that little cotton sack but like so many things, with the passage of time, it, too, is gone.



  1. You thought you were as big as anybody! They tricked you into hoeing your row. =D

  2. Truly sounds back breaking......but sounds like you have fond memories.
    diane @ thoughts&shots

  3. It looked to me like some of the most hard, backbreaking, hot/sweaty, agravating, painful and unpleasant work ever!! ha ha LOL
    How are you doing and any signs of spring up that way yet?

  4. We have such similar memories---I'm so glad I didn't HAVE to "chop" and pick, but I'd go out lots of days when I was really young, and join the pickers out in the field just across our lawn. I would take the big clothespin bag with a strap, and sometimes I'd pick enough to get a dime at the end of a hot dusty afternoon. To a six-yea-old back then, that was HIGH COTTON.

    I try to think how that must have been---the only work there WAS, and you were beholden to the owner of the "place" whose house you lived in and who gave you space for a garden to feed your family, as well as a "furnish" of lard and flour and sugar at the commissary, right there on the farm. You HAD to get out in that sun, and all your family had to work right along those rows, from sun-up to quittin' time.

    Hard times for those who did it.

    Hope you're staying well and warm.



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