A bunch of us girls from Larkinsville spent our summers hoeing cotton. My friend and I didn't mind especially after we became teenagers because we would wear shorts to the field and by the time school started in the fall, we had ourselves a great tan. Our schoolmates would ask where we got our tan and we would reply, "Panama City". Kind of funny because the only time back then that I had ever been out of the State of Alabama was when my Mama and Daddy moved to Chicago.
After Memma and Granddaddy moved from the farm, I asked my Granddaddy if he thought Uncle Wilson would let me and my friends hoe cotton that summer. We wanted to make some money. All of us had hoed and worked in the fields since we were knee high to a bean post, so we knew very well how to hoe cotton. Granddaddy talked to Uncle Wilson and he told him to tell us that we could start on Monday.
Come Monday morning, I got up at the crack of daylight and met the rest of the girls at Latham's Grocery. We walked down the road to Uncle Wilson's our hoes slung over our shoulder. (yes we had our own hoes). So, that evening as we walked back, we passed by this lady's house. She came out and a girl about the age of the rest of us followed us out. She was dressed in a white blouse and nice shorts. Of course, we were all dirty from being in the field all day. Some of us even had dirt in our hair.
This lady introduced us to her niece who was visiting from Chattanooga. She asked if this girl could hang out with us while she was visiting. "We got us a job hoeing cotton, "I proudly stated.
"Well, I am sure she would like to earn some money too."
"Do you know anything about hoeing cotton?" I asked the girl.
She nodded. "Well, I am sure Uncle Wilson could use all of the help he can get. You can go with us in the morning and we will see what he says."
Well, that morning, the girl went with us and honey, she hoed just about all of that cotton down. She didn't know a stand cotton from a weed. Thank goodness it took over forever to hoe one row.
And, by evening, we were all told that we were not needed anymore. Southern for fired!
We were a site for sore eyes walking home that evening our hoes dragging the pavement. One of my friends said, "Well, I don't know why he fired me, I always thought I was a good hoer." We all burst out laughing.
And, bless poor old Uncle Wilson's heart, he later told my Granddaddy that he hated to fire me, but felt bad about keeping me and some of the others on to hoe and telling the city slicker from Chattanooga that he didn't need her anymore.
My friend, Carol and I, well, we didn't have our "hoeing cotton tan" but a little baby oil and iodine did the trick that summer.