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A Good Lesson

“Sea Island cotton was the only kind grown in our section when I was a boy, and it took much longer for it to reach the picking stage than the kind we grow now. If the weather was favorable — most of it could be picked before Christmas, but just a little interference often made it necessary for pickers to work at it during the cold days of January and February.

One of the big growers in our section had sickness in his family one fall and, after most of the cotton of the community was picked, his fields were still white with it. His neighbors got together and planned a cotton picking that was to last until the job was finished. This was not an uncommon thing in those days, but they introduced a new inducement into this one. Five dollars was a lot of money then, and they offered that much to the boy and girl who picked the most cotton during the time it took to finish the job.

This produced a lot of interest and a lot of pairing off among the youngsters. My best girl was not much of a cotton picker, but my second best was about the best (gal) picker in the community. It took lots of consideration to make a choice between winning that money and losing my best girl, but I finally decided that a girl almost as good and half of the prize money was more to be desired. I had no trouble making this arrangement, but when my most troublesome rival for my best girl chose her for his partner — my pleasure in the contest received a very severe jolt. Half the prize money did not look nearly as good then and my partner became just an ordinary sort of

(Condensed from a newspaper column written by my granddaddy, which was published on November 15, 1945.) continued from page

“driven woman.” When we weighed up after the first day, we were the leaders, but they wouldn’t tell us by how much and announced that we would not be given credit for any of it on the next day’s picking. This meant that we must beat everybody the next day, too. I rolled on the bed that night — sleepless from an aching back. I realized how contemptible I had acted in spurning my best girl as a partner and determined to try and make it right with her the next day. In an effort to do this I saw the other boy, privately, and offered to trade girls with him, but he would have none of it, asserting that he could not win with any girl and was satisfied just to have my girl for a partner.

This was a sad blow, and after he told my partner — she quit trying to win — I was left in a pitiable state. We lost on the second day, but they decided to divide the money between the two winning couples. My winnings consisted of one hundred and twenty-five cents and my losses consisted of my best and second-best girls.

My greedy nature taught me a good lesson. When my girl finally relented enough for me to get an opportunity — I laid a much humiliated suitor at her feet and offered unshakable future devotion as a recompense for my shameless act.”


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