Tuesday, September 04, 2007
We were driving to a ballgame way down in the boot heel
of Missouri last week. Mayberry is in the Ozark foothills,
which is why we are called hillbillies, but that is
beside the point. We were headed for Steel and as I was
looking at the map I noticed that not too far away was a
town named Hornersville. That struck a chord with me.
"Who was just talking to me about Hornersville?" I asked
Kent. "Don't know," was his reply, "it wasn't me."
Finally I remembered; G'ma Opal had told me a story about
Hornersville just a few days earlier.
About 74 years ago, when my Dad was three and his brother
Billy was a crawling baby, G'ma and her husband, and the
kids, joined with several of Grandpa's family to go pick
cotton in Hornersville.
They were given an 100 acre field to pick. There were 16
people in all, counting the children. They set up a big,
open-sided tent next to the field and they all slept under
the tent. All the adults, except for G'ma Opal, picked
cotton by day. She was the designated cook.
She cooked on a little wood heated stove that they sat
outside the tent. The oven in the stove didn't work, so
everything made had to be cooked on top of the stove.
They didn't have much in the way of money, and they couldn't
get to a store easily so their fare was limited indeed. They
went through 25 pounds of flour every two days, and G'ma said
she peeled and sliced two 2 and 1/2 gallon buckets full of
Fried bread and fried potatoes with water gravy were the eatin's.
There was the occasional loaf of bologna that someone would go
pick up at the grocers.
The adults could mostly pick 300 pounds of cotton a day per
person and they were paid 50 cents for every 100 pounds. It
took three weeks to pick the field clean.
It was a hard way to make a living, but they were glad for the