Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bale a Day was the Objective

-click to enlarge-

Some of you may not appreciate the photo, but I'm sure some will. This was a way of life that many of us moved on from, but didn't forget. Handpicked cotton and hand pulled corn has been a thing of the past for many years, except in the smallest farm operations.

The men and ladies of the photo were hard-working and honest people. Their best pickers could easily pick 300 or more pounds of cotton in a long hot day; even some ladies could almost do that, too. If they could keep that up, they could get 4-5 bales a week to the gin. Remember-all hand picked.

In the season start, the first bale ginned reaped some kind of recognition - either the prestige, or maybe there was a prize of some sort. The McCarthy and the Outlaw-Lewellyn gins ran all day and all night in the peak season.

Does anyone remember what the Pratts community cotton picking was? Neighbor helping neighbor?

Thank goodness for modern harvesting machinery.


  1. Cotton picking! I had grand parents who farmed and raised cotton. I was too small to really get into picking so my grandmother Copeland made me a cotton sack out of a flour sack and a strap so I pick cotton. My grandfather "paid" me at the end of the day. I think it was maybe fifty cents but that was a lot back in the late 1940's. We loved jumping into the cotton wagon but were warned not to have anything in out pockets that could fall out and damage the cotton gin. I can still remember the smell of the freshly picked cotton.

    Thankfully I did not have to drag those long cotton sacks through the fields all day. I managed to save the cotton scale and one weight that was used then. The weighin was the highlight of the day, to see who picked the most.

    Occasionally we would find a wild watermelon vine with a melon on it and everyone would gather around and have a treat once a melon was busted open by dropping it on the ground. I wonder if anyone ever found a watermelon in their cotton fields and I always wondered how they got there.

  2. The purpose of the group picking cotton in this picture was to raise money for a new auditorium at EAST MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH(formerly Pinhook)in the PRATT Community. I don't remember how many years we had a Church cotton crop but I remember several.

    I believe the location was on land owned by Horace Bishop. All members gathered in the field to prepare the land, plant, hoe, pick the cotton....each time with "dinner on the ground". ...lots of hard work but fun too !

    Money raised from the cotton crop was used to build a new building, also built by church members, under the direction of Mr. Hewey Mabry.

    Gerald & Joyce may be able to add more's quite possible that the reason I wasn't in that picture was that I refused to stop picking cotton just to get my picture made...

  3. Jim, will you contact me through my email? If you don't have it, you can ask Carl. Thanks, Cynthia

  4. A couple of comments about the photo, and one about Don McKibben. That was no little girl in the photo, as the caption states, but Booker McMillon's son, Billy Joe. Don was correct about the church crop and that it was on Horace Bishop's land, even though he didn't attend Pinhook Church.
    As for Don, I distinctly remember that he wasn't in the picture that day because he had snuck off to avoid working as hard as the rest of us, even though he must have been all of two years old. He was just getting into lifelong habits I guess.