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My First, Last Cotton-Chopping Job

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.


Now I Introduce You to My Dad

and although I am without his photo, he still one man among men. Sure, I'm very prejudiced, but I think that I would say that even if this wonderful man wasn't my dad. And really, there is not enough space or page-count to accurately describe him. You should have met my dad. Then you would know what I mean.

Dad, or daddy, when I was a kid, was far from being "Clark Kent," AKA/"Superman," but truthfully, he possessed many of "Kent's" powers -- super vision; hearing; listening, and more. My dad, yes, my dad, could work harder, walk the furthest, and be the closest friend to any stranger who might pass his way. I know that most folks might contend that I am bragging on my dad for some selfish reason. And they might be true. I could be bragging on my dad to tell God how much that he meant to me. I know that God knew this eons ago before dad was born, but I do think that God loves others who talk nicely about others.

Dad was born during the Crash of '29, and even as I grew-up, he would tell me many stories about how he had to work, although there were not many jobs at that time, but he would work for those who lived around him, and would barter work for milk, and so forth. My dad. A sharp-witted man? You bet. I am not talking about some crook who knows how to pick a pocket.

I've Told You About The Share-cropping

that my dad loved to do because this work helped put food on our table. Even when I was six, I knew that there was something special in dad's eyes when he would talk to my mom about the fields that he had to plant, harvest or pick. But the most-favorite time of the farming season was Cotton-Chopping Time, known far and wide by all rural farmers.

There I was at six-years-old, three weeks until I started school, and had to help my dad, mom, and a few men who my dad hired to help him with the cotton-chopping, and I was excited to be in on such a farming memory. That was until I was told (by dad) to pick-up that hoe and do what I do. Okay. So far. So whatttt? You see, dad had been raised on farming activities so his cotton-chopping was as smooth and precise as an Atomic engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project. Dad did not make many mistakes, because he knew how to master his energies and for him to stray from a good day's work was simply foolish.

After dad scolded me about three times, I finally took hold of the hoe and there I was. Mom was already started on her first row of cotton, dad was away head of her and me, and the three guys, or hired cotton choppers, were spread all over the cotton field to get it chopped in order for the cotton to have room enough to grow.

My First and Last Cotton Chopping Venture

was not that hard to achieve. I followed my dad as closely as possible, but since I was six, life was new and exciting, and my mind loved to wander. Well, it used to during (that) half-day when I tried to chop cotton, but failed miserably. No harm in being honest.

"Momma, do I do like this?" I asked about to take my first swing of my hoe. Then it looked as if she nodded yes, and I let the hoe do its work. Unfortunately, my hoe took most of the cotton "hill" * out of living, and momma's face turned white, then pink. Dad, being a sharp-eyed share cropper, sensed (even from his distance at the end of the field) that I was not in trouble, but I WAS the trouble. No way to kid about that.

Was I scared? Not at all. I was trembling like a brown leaf in Autumn. Dad was not scared. But very upset at how I had made a big mistake in how I made my first "chop" so to follow his plans. Dad didn't say that much. But he did take me back to the first hill, took my hoe, and said, look here, and proceeded to show me the correct way to chop cotton.

Little by little, I tried to do a better job at the second "hill," and with that one, I took my time which was another mistake, but at least I did not cut more cotton than I had at the first "hill." Momma tried her best to counsel me, but here came dad and this time, he had no patience whatsoever. I knew it. Momma knew it. Even the hired men knew it because the three of them stopped and started leaning on their hoe handles.

Then . . .as I chopped the third, fourth, and fifth "hills," dad, mom, or the three hired men did not scold me whatsover. Truthfully, I felt great inside. Something wonderful for a six-year-old to have learned how to chop cotton within five or six minutes. I felt like a professional cotton chopper. I had dreams of growing-up and becoming a fluid, smooth cotton chopper and even gave exhibitions in many little towns to teach the correct and fun way to chop cotton.

When these imaginations surfaced, the next and biggest mistake I made was when I though thought of super-professional-golfer, Arnold Palmer. He was "it" on the grass. I believe that he was really Super-man wearing slacks and a nice sweater. Everyone loved "Arnie."

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Momma, dad or the three hired guys were not looking, so I set-out to do my very best impression of Palmer when he tee's off each time he plays in a tournament. I took my hoe handle and took the handle up to where it looked like I was holding a baseball bat, and then measured the hoe blade next to the seven cotton stems that I was to chop.

I was not in a hurry. But figured that I had best get it done before I'm discovered. With one swing, my hoe went through the cotton hill and it left my hands and flew into the grass at the side of the field. Truthfully, that swing sounded more like a 747 when it came in for a landing. I froze. I knew that all of the eyes were on me. I was right. Even the three hired guys were standing still gazing at me shaking with humiliation.

Momma was trying to calm dad down. I loved her with all of my heart, but (this) time, she failed. Dad stomped up at me and did not even take time to look at me in the face. He put his hands on his hips and said. .

"Hey, if you cannot do any better than what you are doing--just go home! I mean it!" I couldn't talk from the fear and anticipation because on occasion, he would tell me to do something and I would do it and then get chewed-out for doing what he said. Go figure.

Momma, dad, and the hired men, they too didn't move. I did what my dad said to do. I waved at them and began running out of the cotton field and on to the house.

Did I feel bad at failing? A little. Now I had some time to think about another farming task: my picking cotton the upcoming picking cotton time.
May 26, 2021______________________________________________________

*a hill in the cotton field means that the cotton seed had been dropped in a particular place like in all rows, and when the cotton is chopped, the cotton is trimmed to where the young cotton can have air and sunshine in order to grow bigger.

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© 2021 Kenneth Avery


liataylor on May 27, 2021:

nice article!

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