A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

Hurricane can’t stop tobacco grading

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It’s beginning to feel and look like fall.

Last week I saw the first fully tipped tobacco field and then immediately saw, in another field, someone combining corn. It brought to mind those last days of barning tobacco and “getting up” corn. I was so glad to see that old stalk cutter with the mules hooked up to it as Daddy cut down the tobacco stalks. No more suckering tobacco — for that year, at least.

As for the corn pulling, we had an old green wagon that Daddy hooked the mules to and then he and Mama (I never did this but once) would pull the corn, throw it in the wagon and take it to the barn where they would put it in old fertilizer sacks that he had washed out in Turkey Creek. The corn would be taken to Webbs Mill or Hoover Murray’s Mill to be sold later that winter. I remember him taking those sacks to the creek near Samaria earlier in the year. Same old green wagon was used to go to the creek where he could pull down into it and wash the sacks out.

I’ll never forget seeing a snake in that creek and yelling to Daddy. He hadn’t seen it, but he made a quick jump into the wagon. After the snake swam by, he finished washing the sacks out and we rode back home. I don’t remember ever going there again to wash out sacks.

As Hurricane Dorian approaches North Carolina, I’m reminded of Hurricane Hazel who came to call in October 1954.

That was the first time I recall being released early from school. I remember thinking that this was great because at that time there was nothing happening — not even rain. Mama and Daddy were in the grading room (back then they had to grade every leaf of tobacco into at least four grades from prettiest to trash). I remember vividly walking down the path to the grading room — I had just turned 10 years old — and taking off tobacco for them to grade.

As the weather set in, Mama, Keith and I went into the pit to stay. (For those who are wondering, the pit was the hole underneath the grading room with racks on which to hang sticks of tobacco to put it in order or make it soft or limp enough to handle for grading purposes, otherwise it would crumble into small pieces when touched).

Daddy finally came down when the wind and rain flattened the reeds growing along a ditch bank behind the grading room. As soon as it stopped, we all came back up into the grading room and went back to work. We didn’t know that we were in the eye of the storm.

When that thing came back through on the other side of the eye, back into the pit went Mama, Keith and me. Daddy kept on grading tobacco through the remainder of the storm. My daddy was one tough guy!

Jan Mills is The Enterprise’s customer service representative. Reach her at 252-478-3651 and jmills.enterprise@wilsontimes.com.