Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tobacco Farming

I remember working in the tobacco fields when the tobacco was almost over my head, so big it lapped together between rows. One day we were working, all sticky and gummy with tobacco juice, and my mamma's sister and her kids came down from Nashville.

Well, we thought they were a big city bunch, and it would be a tragedy for them to see us dirty. As the grown son came looking for us, he saw several heads - and we saw him. Just before he got there, we all went under the tobacco. Not a person could he see. We heard him mumbling to himself, "I know I saw them. What went with them?"

When he left, we slipped to the smokehouse where we washed up and left our dirty clothes before dinner time.

We often hid as someone passed if we were working near the road. I guess we had too much pride. The river-bottom farmers that lived neer us counted hill farmers poor and beneath them. They referred to us as "ridge rooters" or PZ people. PZ meant poor zone.

They thought their young men were too good to date PZ girls - and vice versa. Our boys on PZ were on guard to see that their territory was not taken over. The boys across the river from "Pot Neck" did not dare come over to our church alone. They came in groups.

It was a kind of territorial prejudice which seems comical to look back on now. We had many "all day singings and dinner-on-the-grounds" when both groups came together. But the line was very clear as to who dated whom.

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