It seems that each summer we say “I don’t remember it being this hot this long before.” But, truthfully this past summer did seem to be a tad warmer, a bit more humid and yes, even more rain free than other summers.
We’re all celebrating the cool mornings and warm evenings now. The leaves are beginning to fall and the wind has picked up to take them to neighbors unknown. The logging trucks are busy taking out the hard woods and pines preparing them to become lumber and paper.
Sitting out on Angelus Road near Sycamore an old tobacco barn once hidden by the trees now felled by the hand of man stands tall against the sky. Memories of “putting in tobacco” make me smile.
I can see us all standing under the shelter with stacks of green tobacco at one side and the stringers at the other. I remember picking out 3 to 4 large leaves in each hand to “hand” to the stringer. One stringer in particular that I remember is my Aunt Margaret. She could string a stick of tobacco in about 45 seconds, cigarette in her mouth, an ash three inches long that wouldn’t get tapped off until she’d completed five sticks of tobacco.
She and another stringer of note, Lizzie Dunn, had an unspoken rivalry. Either one of them could be said to be the best — it was a dead tie!
My grandparents paid us 3 dollars a day for working in the summer, and while that may seem like a pitiful wage, remember they had 6 grandchildren working for them so that was 18 dollars a day to pay out of the profits. And we weren’t paid top dollar by far.
The “real” workers were paid about triple that. And there were at least ten of them. But for now, driving down Angelus Road my hands can nearly feel that little paycheck burning a hole in my pocket. My eyes will turn directly to that old tobacco barn, standing sentinel over my childhood memories. I hope that whoever owns it will let it continue to guard the sky.