Picking Cotton By Hand In The South

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I Picked Cotton For $1.00 A Pound

I have not thought of picking cotton in the deep south for many years. One day recently I was in my neighborhood grocery store and looked over at their display of cut flowers. They always have a good selection of different flowers arranged in bouquets. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I just like to look at the pretty flowers, especially the roses. I could not believe my eyes! There were sprigs of cotton for sale. Yes, cotton! I looked closer, thinking they must be fake; maybe a plastic of some sort. I gently touched one of the cotton bolls filled with white material. It was soft and fluffy. It was truly real cotton! I bought a sprig, and carefully brought it home. I placed it in a vase where it would be safe. It was a found treasure to me. I have not seen cotton in many years except growing in fields when I would pass through southern states on my way to somewhere up north.

A Girl Like Me Picking Cotton

Children Picked Cotton

When I looked at the sprig of cotton, it was as though years melted away. I was once again a little girl picking cotton. It would be called child labor now, but back then all the children worked in the fields during the summer time when school was out. We didn’t have summer vacations like the school children have now. We worked, and we worked very hard. I don’t think we looked on this as being labor. It was expected of us to do our share of the work, not only for our own family, but to earn money for the family. I can’t remember the exact age I was when I first began picking cotton, but I must have been six years old.

Children Picking Coton

My parents were not cotton farmers. We didn’t have enough land. It requires many acres of land to grow cotton. We grew corn and other vegetables that Mother canned for us to eat. We raised cows, hogs, chickens, and goats. The cows and the goats were used for their milk. The chickens supplied all the eggs we needed, plus enough extra to sell at market. The young chickens supplied our Sunday dinner. The hogs were butchered so we would have plenty of ham, bacon and sausage to eat.

There were plenty of cotton farmers in our area. When the cotton was ready to be harvested, the farmers hired extra hands to pick the cotton. Laborers have now been replaced by machines that are driven into the fields, and the machines harvest the cotton. These machines were introduced in the '50's to harvest the cotton crops.

The cotton flower is very pretty. It’s has a pinkish color. After it finishes blooming the cotton appears.

The Cotton Flower

A Sunbonnet Like The One I Wore To Pick Cotton

We Wore Sunbonnets And Dresses To Pick Cotton

When I picked cotton I remember going into the field to work wearing the sunbonnet my Mother made for me. This kept the hot sun off the back of my neck, and also had a broad brim to keep the sun off my face. I’m sure you have watched episodes of “Little House On the Prairie”, and seen the girls dressed just like I used to dress. Girls back then were not allowed to wear pants or shorts. It was not lady-like. We wore cotton dresses that our Mothers made from flour sacks.

The Cotton Still In The Boll

Working In The Cotton Fields

When we got to the field to work, each person was given a big sack to hold the cotton as it was picked. These were just big sacks with a strap that went over the shoulder. That left both hands free to pick. No one wore gloves. I can still feel the soft cotton between my fingers. The boll that holds the cotton is quite sharp, and by the end of the day, our fingers were very sore. The secret is to just pluck the cotton out of the boll without getting stuck by the sharp boll. We had a great rhythm doing this. When both hands were full of cotton, it went into the sack. When the sack became full, we emptied it out on our own blanket. Everyone had their own blanket that we spread out before we started picking.

I remember the cotton field as a happy place. We all sang as we picked. We usually sang spiritual songs. We could sing as loud as we wanted, and no one would complain. The grownups picked right alongside the children in the fields, but of course, they always got ahead of us children in the rows, because they were much faster than we were. I remember seeing young Mothers with their babies strapped on their backs. When the baby got hungry, the Mother stopped and allowed it to nurse. Then she would go right back to work. There were stories of women having their babies right there in the cotton fields, but I never saw that.

At noon, we would hear the dinner bell. We called the noontime meal dinner , not lunch. What a wonderful sound that was. I can still hear it. We would put down our sacks, and run for the farmhouse. In looking back, I wonder how the farmer’s wife prepared all the food she did for all the workers. There would be fresh vegetables, cornbread, and always some kind of meat. She always made a lot of iced sweet tea. There could be as many as 50 workers on any day, but there was always enough food to go around. We sat on the ground, and ate like pigs. We had an hour to eat and rest before another bell rang to tell us it was time to go back to the fields.

At 5 p.m. another bell would sound. That was the best sound of all. That meant we were through for the day. We would gather up our blankets full of cotton. We placed a hard knot at the top so that no cotton could fall out. Then we would wait for the farmer and his helpers to come around with the scales and weigh our precious haul. I remember we were paid a penny a pound for the cotton we picked. Some of the men could pick over 200 pounds of cotton a day. I never picked more than 100 pounds. We were paid one cent a pound! So the most I ever made in for a full days work was $1.00.


I Have Happy Memories Of My Childhood When I Picked Cotton

Now when I look at the sprig of cotton in the vase I am transported back to a time in my life when I was a happy child. I am once again picking cotton in the fields of the south.

My Sprig Of Cotton That I Treasure

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4.6 out of 5 stars from 41 ratings of Picking Cotton

Video On Picking Cotton

Good Books On Amazon About Picking Cotton

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© 2011 Mary Hyatt

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Comments 131 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

This is fabulous. Full of a look at history, as well as personal experience, you've posted a great piece here.

I know that there were abuses with child labor, but I also know that many families worked together for the good of the family without abusing their children. Your perspective points out the value of children being given work to do instead of being given everything. A significant issue in our society today could be helped with this perspective!

Voted up, up, up!

Oh--I enjoyed the photos and learning that the cotton flower is pink. Going back to check out video now.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

Your pictures remind me of a vacation we took down south when I was a child and my father pulled off the side of the road near a cotton field to show us up close what cotton looked like. I had totally forgotten about that until I read your hub - thanks for that wonderful trip down memory lane!


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Evening,RTalloni, thanks for reading, and for the votes! As kids, we never thought of working in the fields as child abuse. It was just something that was expected of us. Regards, and goodnight.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Kris, so good to see you here! Glad I could take you down memory lane. A field full of cotton is a beautiful site. You can still see the fields if you drive in the southern states during the summer and fall months. Goodnight.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hi Mary! What a fascinating hub! I never really thought about where cotton balls came from I just buy a bag and use them. Thank you for sharing your story and my lesson about cotton! :)


writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great hub. I used to go hoping picking near the end of our holiday off school. Like were you picking cotton, now all the machines pick hops.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

Great hub! I loved the older pictures. They give a great sense to the memories expressed here.


Meadow Kelly profile image

Meadow Kelly 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

Yet another great hub, Mary. I do so enjoy reading your hubs/stories. As always, voted up. :-)


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

This was so realistic, mary, I swear I got sunburned just from reading about you picking all that cotton in the hot sun. When I reread this hub, you know I'm going to wear a big sun-bonnet.


Linda Myshrall 5 years ago

What a GREAT hub! My Mom has spoken of this- She picked cotton in middle Tennessee as a child. She mentioned that Thanksgiving was usually a day when my grandfather, grandmother, and all of the kids would go back and pick the last of the cotton. No big feast for them- just more cotton picking. I will take the liberty of forwarding this to her... I think she will enjoy it. Voted up and interesting! Best, Linda


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Sunshine 625, so glad you enjoyed reading my Hub. Now when you grab a cotton ball, you'll appreciate how it grew. See you again, soon.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Dear writer20. Now, picking hops is something I know nothing about. I'll have to read up on them. I just never thought about hops, I guess. Thanks for reading.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, Audrey. Thanks for reading and for the comment. Glad you liked the pictures. See you again soon.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Meadow. thanks for reading and for the nice compliment. Thanks, too for the votes. Goodnight.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

drbj, I love your sense of humor! Yes, grab your sunbonnet (if you can find one), and reread my Hub. It was a hot job, that's for sure. Goodnight.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Linda, so glad you read my Hub and enjoyed it. Thanks for the votes, too. I hope your Mom will get a kick out of reading this. It will probably bring back a lot of memories for her. See you again soon.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for a very interesting hub, Mary. I love the photos and the information about the past too.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

This was such a pleasure to read and brought smiles.

Now I bet when you went shopping for groceries that it would take you down memory lane. Its lovely how these little things can bring back such wonderful memories.

It sounds like it was hard work but a lot of fun too. Thank you mary it was such an insight into history and your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing

Voted up


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi AliciaC, thanks for reading. So happy you liked it. It really was a happy time in my life. Goodnight.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi,Rosemay50, good to see you here! Thanks for reading. Picking cotton is hard work, but we didn't realize it at the time. I wouldn't want to do it now! Thanks for the vote, too. Goodnight


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Hi mary this is a brilliant hub,so well presented and so well told.

You are such a natural writer and that is why people come back time after time to read each of your hubs.

An up up and away here and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Eddy. So good to see you today. Thanks for reading and for the nice compliment. Do you grow cotton in Wales? I hope you have a wonderful day!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

What a wonderful hub! You reminded me of "Gone with the Wind". Especially after the war when Scarlett realized she had to work because she never wanted to be hungry again.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, my friend, Gypsy Rose Lee, funny you should think about Scarlett. I can really identify with her. She is one of my favorite characters. Thanks for reading and for the nice compliment. Regards, Mary


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

Mary, my father was a strawberry farmer. I have similar memories to yours. Remember the smells? Several of my friends had cotton patches. I picked just to be with them. It was all fun to me. I remember the smell of cotton, and how a cotton bowl hurt when hurled at my head. I want to make a wreath with cotton in the burs. I can't get any of my friends to pick it and send it to me. Where was your farm?


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi anndavis25, so nice to see you! If you've ever picked cotton, you can relate to me. Yes, they can be painful. That's a great idea to make a wreath with cotton. I'm not sure how well it would hold up, but I'll bet it would be beautiful. Hope your friends will send you some. I grew up in Ga. near a little town of Elberton. They grow a lot of cotton in that area. Thanks for reading, and the nice comment. Goodnight.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Picking cotton is a very hard job. I remember bleeding fingers and scars on hands and arms. You really have had a great and interested life. The cotton sprig is beautiful.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 5 years ago

Such a wonderful memory Mary. This doesn't make sense at all. We were happier with less and we did our best. Today Technology is at our fingertips, but we are isolated from a real experience. I guess every generation lived its time...You always go the extra mile in doing your hubs, You know why? Because having 4 girls and their families, took a lot of dedication, right? I apologize for not commenting during the afternoon hours, My day job consumes great deal of my evenings and usually make it home around 12 midnight. Thanks for your experiences down south in Elberton GA.

lord


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Sunday morning to you Hyphenbird! Thanks for reading. Since you have picked cotton, you can certainly relate to my experiences. Yes, I have been blessed with a wonderful life (and am still blessed each and every day). My only regret is that I did't buy more of this cotton when I had the chance. The store no longer carries it. Have a wonderful day.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful! Loved all the details. My mom used to pick cotton as a child. I've never picked it, but I've hoed it. Voted up!


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, lord, so good to see you this beautiful day! You are so right. The present generation knows nothing of hard work. I can't stand it when I hear kids now a days say "I'm so bored"! They need to get out and work a little. If I ever complained about working, my Mother would say, "Work will make a better person out of you", and you know what???? She was right.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my picking cotton. It amazes me that even with a job, you still make the time to write and make meaningful comments. I do so appreciate you! I hpe your day will be blessed.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hello there, my Georgia friend, habee! Good to see you today. Thanks for reading, and for the vote! I not only picked the cotton, but also had to hoe it, too. I had a wonderful childhood, and I am grateful for all the experiences.

I hope you will have a wonderful day with all your family and those two beautiful danes!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Same to you, Mary! We're going over to some friends' house for dinner, and we're going to watch the "Christmas Vacation" movie. We watch it every year to "kick off" the holiday.

Holle


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Mary. Thanks for your very fond memories of your childhood days. I spent a little time in the south as a child, but do not have any cotton picking stories to relate.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

habee, I can watch "Christmas Vacation" a hundred times, and laugh every time. It's a classic. Last night I watched "It's A Wonderful Life", and enjoyed that one once again. Bye for now.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, mckbirdbks! Good to see you today. If you never picked cotton, you missed a great experience! Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day.


Angelladywriter profile image

Angelladywriter 5 years ago from Media, Pennsylvania

This article took me back to my childhood in so many ways. My family always looked forward to the little extra money from the cotton we picked. I remember my hands getting pricked from picking cotton. I also remember being disappointed after I filled my sack with as much cotton as I could carry, and then receiving less than five dollars. This was truly a learning experience that I will never forget.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Angelladywriter! You have made me so happy today with your comment about my picking cotton. I'm so glad it brought back memories for you. It was a hard life, but it was a happy life, too, right? You must be a southern lady as I was. Hope to see you again soon.


Angelladywriter profile image

Angelladywriter 5 years ago from Media, Pennsylvania

Hi mary615,

I am from the south. My cotton picking days as well as stringing tobacco, made me understand the value of hard work. I also loved your photos. They really took me back to those days. Keep up the good hubs!


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, again Angelladywriter! I thought you were a southern gal! I never lived where tobacco grew, so I never worked in that. We did learn the value of hard work back then, didn't we? It didn't hurt us one little bit. Bye for now.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Mary

I enjoyed your story very much.

I have never seen a cotton flower. It is very pretty.

Voted up, up and away!


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Evening, Sueswan! Thanks for reading, and for the votes! Yes the cotton flower is very pretty. When the field are all in bloom, all you see for miles is pink! So glad you enjoyed my story on picking cotton. Goodnight.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Wow, that was such a wonderful introduction to a world I never knew. I heard about cotton picking but didn't know so many details which you described so well.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, hello, thanks for reading. A lot of people never wonder where cotton comes from. They just know it's a fabric. It was a good life as a child picking cotton in the south! Goodnight.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

mary615 - I have not picked cotton, but I have chopped or hoed many a field of cotton and many other crops during my summer "vacation", sometimes as long as 12 hours a day. I too enjoyed this kind of work.

I still have one of the sunbonnets that my grandmother made me, a red and white gingham check.

I still sometimes call my meals dinner and supper instead of lunch and dinner.

Great hub!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, homesteadbound! Good to see you.. Thanks for reading my story about picking cotton in the south. Yes, working in the fields is hard work, buy don't you think it helped shape our character? I do. That's great that you still have your sunbonnet. Regards, Mary


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

I know that being poor and having to work hard like that did help shape my character.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Homesteadbound: I totally agree with you. Young people now a days are so spoiled. The cotton would rot in the fields if farmers had to wait for the young people to pick it! Good night, and thanks again!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Hello Mary, I am so touched by this story. I absolutely love how you found the new cotton treasure and put it in a vase, and then told about your experience in cotton fields. This is just precious and so wonderful on so many levels. I am just so impressed with what you did from a young girl on up, I can't even begin to explain. To do all of that, then to get paid a penny a pound is just amazing! It makes me appreciate life and hard work and the value of a dollar, all the more, just reading this hub. How wonderful, thank you so much for sharing this!

I hope you continue to keep writing for a long time. :) Voted up and everything but funny. It may sound goofy to say this, but I feel blessed having read this story. Thank you.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Evening, oceansnsunsets. So nice to see you again! I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my childhood days of picking cotton in the deep south. I'm so happy you can appreciate my background, and I have to tell you I did have a wonderful childhood, hard work and all. It made me the person I am today who, like you, appreciate life and the beauty of life every day. You just made my day, you know if my story has blessed you in some small way. Thanks for the votes, too. You are a dear, sweet person. Goodnight.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I had not seen your cotton picking hub. I also picked cotton when I was a teen. Some of my family owned cotton fields.

I love cotton, we went to all the cotton gins until we found a bail of cotton to bring home, they make minuture ones. I keep mine in the living room.

I also have the bonnets. My grandmother made mine.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, moonlake! Thanks for reading my Hub on Picking Cotton in the South! So happy you could relate to my story since you've picked cotton too. So sweet you still have the sun bonnets your Grandmother made. What a treasure. Wish I still had mine. Goodnight.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

When I was a teenager in south Texas the cotton was mostly picked by machine and the trucks transporting the cotton to gins would leave the sides of the roads white (almost like snow) with some cotton that had blown out of the trucks. Your hub brought back that memory for me. Sounds like you had a good time working with your family as a child in the cotton fields. Thanks for your shared memories.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

Lunch, dinner, supper: My mother claims that the big meal of the day is dinner (whether it is served at lunchtime or suppertime, but that determines the alternate choice, so that lunch and supper define something other than dinner. Folks who have done haying in the summer sun learned a work ethic, too. Our children learned it washing dishes/pots/pans in our restaurant. All of them decided that getting a good education was their way out, and are succssful today with a respect for hard, honest work. Great hub. Sharing on my twitter and facebook links.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Peggy W, thanks so much for reading and commenting on my Hub about me picking cotton in the South. Yes, it's all done by machine now, and I guess it has been for a long time. I do have lasting good memories of my picking cotton. I was a lucky gal! Goodnight.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Perspycacious, Thanks so much for reading my Hub, and for the nice compliment. I like to think that working hard as a youngster picking cotton and other responsibilities helped make me the person I am today. Your children understood about working hard by working in your restaurant, and getting a good eduation. Good for them! Good for you for teaching them good work ethic. Thanks so much sharing with Twitter and FB. I really appreciate that. It's so nice to have you as a Hub friend!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Great hub,

I love the way you transported us back in time so that it felt we were right there with you picking cotton.

I think children are capable of doing much more than we usually expect of them and the story you wrote here proves that point.

Thanks for sharing this part of your childhood with us.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, HBN. It's so nice to see you today! Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, you are right, maybe we don't ask enough of our children. We country kids had no choice in whether we worked or not. See you again, soon.


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful look into the life of cotton picking dear heart. God Bless You Precious heart.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi there, stars439. Thanks for reading about my picking cotton in the south. Those were the good ole days! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about it. Goodnight.


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

Hi Mary,

You have taken me to place I have never been to actually work in cotton, and I was born in the South.

My Grandparents had a huge farm, but never planted cotton.

I visited with my grandmother's relatives in Georgia once, and I walked in a field of cotton, and took some to my first grade class to "Show and Tell" it was a big deal for us.

Thanks for Sharing,

Your Hub Friend,

Bobbi


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Bobbi, nice to see you this evening! Most kids now a days have never seen cotton growing. I can imagine how thrilled your class was to see cotton. When I brought home that stalk of cotton from the grocery store, my grandkids talked about it for days. Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about picking cotton in the south. See you again soon, I hope. Goodnight.


klarawieck 4 years ago

Mary, I've enjoyed reading about your childhood and your memories about the times you spent picking cotton. This is a unique experience, and I'm so glad you got to share it with us. The video is beautiful as well, and just looking at that gorgeous field of white, I can't imagine not feeling joy at being immersed in there, picking the soft material with your bare fingers. Beautiful hub!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, klarawieck, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my Hub about picking cotton in the south. Thanks, too, for the nice compliment, and I'm so happy you enjoyed reading about the cotton. Hope you have a great day!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

I lived in Louisiana for a spell, it was my first introduction to the cotton plant and cotton fields. Jamie


klarawieck 4 years ago

Mary, I grew up in Cuba and although I'm sure they grew cotton, I never actually saw it. But I remember as a child standing on my balcony and watching the little fluffs of white fly past me. My mother would tell me that they were little pieces of cotton. I assumed that birds would pick on the actual plant to build their nests, but I never saw the actual plants. Of course, across from where we lived there was a huge abandoned Spanish colonial park that housed all sorts of native plants. I was just doing a search for cotton fields in Cuba and can't find a thing, but I'm sure there were plantations at one point. It would be an interesting topic to research.

Thanks for this... now you got me all riled up on cotton!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Jamie, I've never had the opportunity of going to Louisiana. I've heard it's a beautiful state. I'm glad you knew about cotton and the cotton fields. Thanks for reading and commenting.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi larawieck, I'm not sure if cotton was grown in Cuba; might be too tropical , I'm just not sure. Would be fun to do some research on that! I always wanted to see Cuba; I understand it was a beautiful place. I have several friends who came here from Cuba and miss their country terribly. Thanks for reading!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

Thanks goodness we didn't grow much cotton on our farm and instead grew peanuts and tobacco--not that tobacco was a cakewalk at all--when I was a child. But now, almost the entire farm is planted in the stuff. Not by us, as we simply lease out the land now.

I remember picking cotton by hand only part of one day. This was enough for me to realize I didn't care for it much. LOL!

Enjoyed your memories of the time, though. Rated up, Mary!

SSSSS


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Randy Godwin, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment on my Hub about picking cotton in the South. We grew peanuts too, but not tobacco. Picking cotton is a hard job as you know, but my Mother used to say it would "build my character". Maybe it did, who knows??? It was hard work, but it was fun, too! Thans so much for the vote, Randy.


snowdrops profile image

snowdrops 4 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

wow, this is very fascinating Mary. I never seen a cotton flower before, we have cotton trees here, but its rougher and it grows very tall and big, like a tree. we call it "duldul". It's rough but its better than sleeping on a carton.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi there, snowdrops. I can't tell where you are from.....snow country maybe???? I never heard of a cotton tree. That's so interesting: you mentioned sleeping on it????

Thanks for reading!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Hey Mary! Wow, this is very interesting! Yeah, you are absolutely right: back before child labor laws were enacted, this was expected not only in the South, but working for the family was expected of all children. It really goes to show how generations change as a culture grows :)

Fascinating hub, by the way! Voted up and shared!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Awesome memories! You've pulled me in; I could 'feel' the environment and the emotions you must have had. Thanks for sharing, Mary! Voted up across the board :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Mary, loved your story about picking cotton as a child. We can't grow it over here and the closest I have ever come to this is picking strawberries on vacation (and that wasn't work - it was for dessert after our tea). I think your little sprig of cotton is a pretty little thing and it's nice that it brought back some happy memories and that we got to benefit from it through your telling your story :o)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Kubarry03, You are so right. Things have changed a lot since I was growing up. We worked hard, but you know, it didn't hurt us one bit! I'm grateful for my upbringing. But honestly, I wouldn't want my children or grandchildren to have to work as hard as I did.

Thanks so much for the votes, and for the share, I appreciate that, Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Martie, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment on my Picking Cotton in the South. I had a good life growing up; I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything!

Thanks so much for the votes, Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Jools99, I've picked strawberries, too. We grow those here in S. Fl. I can't grown them, but we go to strawberry fields to get fresh berries. They are so good in a pie!

Yes, I treasure that sprig of cotton that reminds me of my picking cotton.

I'm so glad you enjoyed my Hub, Mary


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

OMG-what a cool hub! I loved it, Mary. I had planned on writing one about this subject because it so fascinates me to see these crop and pop up every fall. I recall growing up with the song, The Bollweevle (spelling?) and wondered what it would be like to see a cotton 'ball' growing on top of a plant, like a flower. I feel blessed that I was able to actually experience the crops now, even if I have not experienced the picking exper. like you have. Thanks for sharing. Rated ;up/across-just b/c it was such a fun hub as well, it tickled me; and shared.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Denise, I'm so happy you liked my Hub about picking cotton! I haven't thought of that bollweevil song in ages! I remember it well. Cotton fields are beautiful especially when they are in bloom.

Thanks for reading, commenting, the votes and the share!

Mary


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast

This hub was interesting and I am curious when the picking of cotton started being done by machines. Maybe it was a good thing that children were given something to do and expected to do it. Six to eight hours seems like a long time in the field for a kid though. Great photos, voted up.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, thoughtfulgirl2, thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about picking cotton. Yes, children were expected to work in the fields back then. We didn't lay around like kids do today. I think it helped to build character, but I wouldn't want my kids or grandchildren to have to work as hard as we did.

I don't remember when machines began to harvest the cotton. I'd have to look that up!

Thanks so much for the compliment on my Hub, and the votes, Mary


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Beautiful Hub! Cotton is such an important part of America, and its story is truly beautiful. I love how you have included your own experiences and all of the great photos.

My family has grown and picked cotton for several generations. We still have seeds that have been passed down from these plants. I planted some this year, and even with a terrible drought, I managed to keep five plants alive long enough to make small bolls.

Voting up and sharing!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Sharkye11, thanks for reading my Hub on Picking Cotton In The South. That's wonderful that you have seeds that have been passed down in your family. Wonder if your plants will go to seed?

Yes, picking cotton was a big part of my growing up.

Thanks for the vote and the share, I appreciate that, Mary


Casimiro 4 years ago

Just about everyone who is older remembers their younger days fondly, but it's selective memory at work. Human brains are wired that way. We picked strawberries, beans, cherries, all sorts of stuff when I was a kid. I don't know if it really built character, we just needed the money! I, for one, am happy to see progress in technology, our lives, and our values.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA

I enjoyed your story and hearing about a different way of life, since I grewup in the North. It saddened me to hear that people were paid so little though, but I guess everyone earned less money back then.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Casimiro, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment on my Hub about picking cotton in the South. It was indeed hard work.

Nice to meet you here, Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Barbara Kay. Thanks for reading and I'm so glad you enjoyed my story about picking cotton. It was hard work, that's for sure.

My best, goodnight, Mary


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

This really must have brought fond memories for you, Mary!! Thanks for sharing the days of your childhood. We cannot do without cotton! Will share this wonderful story.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, midget38. I wonder if you grow cotton in Singapore?? Picking cotton was just a part of my wonderful growing up in the country the way I did.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and the share.

Goodnight, Mary


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is such a great story. I could picture it all happeninh as I read. It reminds me if the movie Places Of The Heart. What a sweet memory just a twig of cotton brought to you. Blessings.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, teaches12345. So nice to see you. I'm glad you enjoyed my story of picking cotton in the south. I remember the movie Places of the Heart, that was a great movie. I was fortunate to grow up in a time when children were expected to work (my mother said work would build character).

I was thrilled when a graduate student contacted me for permission to use the info. on this Hub for his Thesis.

My best: have a wonderful day. Mary


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting and thanks for including the photo's. It's a nice thing / fun thing for kids to do and would be light to carry - no wonder you were singing. Great share.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Lady E. I am glad you found my Hub on picking cotton in the south interesting. It was hard work, but all the children were expected to pitch in and pick that cotton!

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

Mary,

I know you must have worked hard at picking cotton. I always wanted to do something like this---when my friends were working in Tobacco-- my Mother would not let me---and of course my Daddy took her side.

But my friends had fun---I did manage to seek away for a Saturday and drive the tractor. I was 14 at the time---just when I thought life was fun and all adults should be put on an Island by themselves.

The sad part is I never grew up---I am still a strong minded Country Girl.

I love your hub.

Bobbi Purvis


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Bobbi, Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about picking cotton. Yes, I did work hard for my 1.00 a pound of cotton. I am still a country gal at heart, too. I had a wonderful life growing up in the country and doing all the things we kids did back then. Hey, we stayed out of trouble, didn't we? We didn't have any spare time!

I'm so happy you liked my Hub, Bobbi.


Kenja profile image

Kenja 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

Totally unique, sometimes moving, history-laden, and worthwhile. Very good Mary, thanks for writing this.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

Mary, What a fabulous storyteller you are. I read every word from beginning to end and with all your great descriptions of the bonnets, dresses and sacks it was very easy to paint a picture in my head. I loved how seeing a sprig of cotton transported you back to your childhood and the happy memories of picking cotton. Voted up, awesome and beautiful!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Kenja. So nice to "meet" you here today! I am happy you enjoyed reading about my picking cotton in the south. I thank you for your nice comment. Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, ktrapp. It's so nice to see you today. Thanks for reading my Hub about picking cotton in the south. Yes, I couldn't believe this sprig of cotton when I saw it for sale. So many people have never seen cotton the way it grows.

I did have some wonderful memories of growing up in the south and picking cotton! Thanks for the votes, I appreciate that so much. Mary


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

Mary - I must confess, growing up in the northeast I never knew what cotton really looked like. However, several years ago my mother-in-law living in Texas sent me a Christmas ornament made out of real cotton that had a little crown on top (I believe) and gold string so that it looked like a Christmas angel. Thanks again for the great tale of your younger years in the cotton fields - and let me just add, that it's too bad children really are no longer expected to help out their families when they're off from school. I'm sure you learned so many lessons that you could probably create another entire Hub about life lessons learned in the cotton field :)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi again, ktrapp. If you ever drive down south in the spring you will see miles and miles of cotton fields in bloom. That is a beautiful sight. I have written Hubs about growing up in the country, but not another one about the cotton fields: good idea, thanks.

Goodnight.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Wow, what an interesting story. I grew up in the South but where we lived no cotton was grown. I was surprised that you have such fond memories of picking the cotton as I have spoken with those who told of how painful it is. Must be kind of like me and blackberry picking---I came with scratches and bleeding but never remembered that the next day.

One part that really stands out is that we did work in the summer helping with whatever crop was being planted or gathered in. I did have time to go to the beach in the summers but my sister and I did work with our family too.

Thanks for sharing this. Voted up ++++


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi pstraubie48. Good to see you. I glad you found my Hub on picking cotton interesting. I used to pick those mean ole blackberries, too. My Mama made the best pies from the berries.

Thanks so much for reading and for the votes, Mary


dragonflyfla profile image

dragonflyfla 3 years ago from South Florida

Hi Mary615:

What an enjoyable hub to read. I also have childhood memories of cotton. Not picking, but seeing the fields as we traveled through Georgia from Florida. I also remember in resturants or gas stations they would have sprigs of cotton for sale. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and interesting.

Joy


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Joy. Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about picking cotton. Oh, I spent many days in the blazing hot sun for a cent a pound! I think it helped build my character (at least my mother promised it would).

I'm happy you found my Hub enjoyable, and I thank you for the votes. Mary


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Mary,

This is an awesome hub and I really enjoyed it. It brings back memories of my brothers and sisters along with my mother picking pickles during the hot months of August so that we would have extra money for school clothes in the 50s. How do you know when the cotton is ready to be picked? Does it have to be completely moisture free? Also, Thanks for linking to my hub. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Paul. Thanks for finding and reading my Hub on picking cotton. You and I have so much on common: the way we were raised; with a strong work ethic and hard work.

Oh, you just know when the cotton is ready to be picked....it will look just like my photos: white and plump! Then it is hauled away to the cotton gins to be processed. It shouldn't get wet. I think it would "sour".

I enjoyed your Hub so much and I thank you.

Thanks for the votes, the shares, and the Pin. I appreciate that, Mary


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

This brings back mixed memories of those cotton-picking days! Thanks for sharing your story.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Levertis Steele. Glad I brought back some memories for you with my article on picking cotton.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


stacistathos profile image

stacistathos 3 years ago from Charleston, SC

Just the other day my mother was telling me about her experience picking cotton when she was a little girl in Anderson, SC. It's interesting that I came across your hub just now, and I enjoyed it.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, sacistathos. I can't believe it! Your Mother picked cotton in Anderson, S.C. where I grew up!!!! I haven't been back there for 30 years. I hope you will share my Hub on picking cotton with her.

I'm happy you enjoyed reading about my experience at picking cotton.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Mary


Mary Liz Ingram 3 years ago

I really enjoyed reading your memories of picking cotton! I am a Southern artist and have a large collection of cotton for my artwork, and very much value the history of the South's cotton farming. Thanks for sharing a part of your history!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Mary Liz Ingram. I am so happy you found my article on picking cotton in the South. Now, I'm curious....how do you use cotton for your artwork?

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Mary


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 2 years ago from South Carolina

Hi Mary,

Came back to read this. I love it because your descriptions are so vivid and positive: "I remember the cotton field as a happy place. We all sang as we picked. We usually sang spiritual songs."

One other thing surprised me-- I never realized cotton plants have pretty pink flowers!

Voted up across the board except for funny and shared.

Hugs,

Gail


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, HBN Oh, yes, the cotton blooms pink and then white. I just love looking out over fields of cotton when they are in bloom. Yes, it was a happy time for me as child, picking cotton in the South!

Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and the share, Mary


OhMe profile image

OhMe 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

I really enjoyed reading about your memories of picking cotton by hand. My dad was in textiles so we always had a great appreciation for the cotton pickers. I have picked many a pecan but no cotton. We used to pick pecans all day and earn a nickel. We were proud of it. I think I caught a comment of yours on another post saying that you grew up in Anderson SC. Is that right? I live right down the road from Anderson.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hello, OhMe You won't believe this: I grew up off the Anderson highway. We had a post office box in Pendleton, and my daddy worked at the mill there!! I'm delighted to meet you.

Oh, yes, I picked a lot of cotton. It was hard work, too. I never picked pecans, but we did have a small walnut grove.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 21 months ago

Mary, you brought back so many memories of my childhood, Yes I chopped cotton, picked cotton, on my grandfathers cotton farm in the south. They had all the usual farm animals Horses, Mules, Cows, Chickens and Ducks.

Ohme, we gather pecans, that is if the thieves don't get to them first, they come onto our property and just take the pecans, this year we only got about 5 pounds compared to some years we gathered about over 100.

Wonderful hub. Voted up, UABI and shared.


mary615 profile image

mary615 21 months ago from Florida Author

Hi, Shyron E Shenko So glad you know you were a "cotton picker", too. That was hard work back then, but I had a wonderful life growing up doing all the usual farm stuff. I miss those pecans, too. They are so expensive to buy.

Thanks for reading, commenting, the votes and the share. I appreciate that, Mary


R-Turner 19 months ago

I was raised up on a farm in North Carolina and know a lot about farm life in the 1950s , I can tell you that you only got a few cents per pound for picking cotton maybe one-three cents per pound if you worked all week you were doing good to walk away with twelve to fifteen dollars


mary615 profile image

mary615 19 months ago from Florida Author

R-Turner I was born in Asheville, N.C. but never picked cotton there. That is a beautiful part of the country! I never earned more than 1.00 a day for picking cotton; what a job that was!


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 18 months ago from Florida

Hi Mary,

I commented on this great hub two years ago and now I am back to share it with Twitter, G+ and pin it on my Re-pin board.

Bobbi Purvis


mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida Author

PurvisBobbi44 (Bobbi), how nice of you to come back and reread about my picking cotton in the South, and for the shares and the Pin. I appreciate your taking the time. Goodnight, Mary


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

I absolutely loved your story of growing up on a farm and picking cotton. I'm a city girl and know nothing of this. I'm voting up, H+ and Interesting. Great job. And I am so happy you found a sprig of cotton to remind you of your happy childhood.


mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida Author

CatherineGiordano I am so happy you enjoyed my story of my growing up on a farm and how I picked cotton. It was a hard life, but a good life.

Thanks so much for the votes and shares. Happy Memorial Day. Mary


Jodah profile image

Jodah 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

What an excellent hub Mary. This was an enthralling story and I enjoyed reading about your times picking cotton.


mary615 profile image

mary615 17 months ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Jodah Thanks so much. Those were the days of hard work, but a happy childhood. I am so far behind reading your work; sorry. I have a dog that just went blind from Glaucoma, and spend my free time tending to her and training her. Good to see you, Mary


Tracie 17 months ago

Thank you. This provided just the background information I needed.


mary615 profile image

mary615 17 months ago from Florida Author

Welcome, Tracie. It thrills me to know you gained information from my article that you needed!!


Larry 7 months ago

Great story. You nailed my childhood. Fond memories of hard work with little pay. Thanks

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