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Joined: 8/13/98 Posts: 5527
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Wasn't in position to reply in any depth, yesterday

I know EXACTLY what you mean, and I had more than one uncle like that. I didn't imagine that anyone on this board would know what a singletree is, or how to harness a mule. I'm glad there is someone.

I started working tobacco at seven as a hander at the barn back in the day when tobacco sticks were hand-tied. I didn't go to the fields until I was 12, I think. Back when I started, the fields were full of grown men and older teens. As that labor pool dried up, later, you started seeing more young boys in the fields.

The worst day I remember, the farmer had a pulling crew back out on him. I was living with him for that whole tobacco season, so I was captive labor. The two of us pulled an entire barn that day, going from first light to last light. We then put it up in the barn with flashlights. And it was one of those really big barns where you needed three men in the tier poles to get it up to the top, and there were only two of us. So, we'd load it up from the bottom to as high as we could get it until we had a few sticks on the poles, then we'd climb up and load it into the top. Then we'd climb back down for the next load.

We didn't get home that night until near midnight, then I was up at 4:30 a.m. the next day to bolt a breakfast down, call up the mules, feed them, harness them, and get them and the sleds to the field we were pulling that day. That was my job every day before the rest of the pulling crew even showed up.

Awful work. Just awful. I learned very early that the one thing in life I didn't want to be was a tobacco worker. ;-)

Thanks for chiming in. I wouldn't say those are good memories, but it's good to have someone share your pain.

(In response to this post by sfb123)

Posted: 05/24/2020 at 12:39PM


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