Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cotton

Maggie Reads' review of High Cotton reminded me of the tales I've heard about picking cotton. Apparently back in the 1930s, families in Monroe County, Mississippi would send out kids who would pick cotton all day for some pitiful amount which back then seemed like a lot because every penny counted. Fortunately someone developed a "cotton picker" that wasn't a human being. When I was small, there used to be a few cotton fields even inside the city limits. There was a cotton gin on the south side of town on the road down to Becker. I enjoyed watching the trailers with the cotton pull up to gin as we went down the road to my grandfather's. I always wanted to know exactly what they did with the cotton. My only experience with cotton was in the form of cotton balls (which we now call "cosmetic puffs"). I saw it growing and understood that it wasn't as clean as what we got in the bags at the store, but I had no idea what they did to "clean" it. It was some years later (probably when I was in elementary school) before I realized that same cotton was used to make fabrics for clothing. Nowadays the cotton fields of Mississippi have been replaced by catfish farms. One of the fields inside the city limits now is home to ball fields. The cotton gin on the edge of town is closed. I've been told there is only one gin operational in the entire county. The garment industry which was once thriving has been outsourced to Asian countries where labor is cheaper (but quality is poorer). People have no concept of what a "cotton pickin'" minute is because they know nothing about picking cotton.

I invite you all to post your "cotton pickin'" comments!

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2 Comments:

  • You must educate me! What is a cotton pickin' minute? Longer than a minute or perhaps forever, since physically picking cotton seems to take forever? We have all said this in haste, but I just realized I'm not really sure why. ;D

    Thanks for stoping by!

    By Blogger Maggie, at 10:42 PM  

  • I don't really know, but I've heard it all my life! Maybe someone who actually picked cotton can educate both of us!

    By Blogger Lori Thornton, at 10:52 PM  

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