i A Time and a Place...: Share Cropping...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Share Cropping...

Sometimes unexpected things bring memories rushing back. I was over at BWHs place reading a few when I came across a link that took me to a mini-bio of Doroteo Arango, better known as Pancho Villa.

In the, "Birth and Parentage," section, I read where his parents were sharecroppers and that is what jogged the memory.
I may have told this already at some past time so I'll abbreviate it this time.

"An 'Almost' Arkansas Cotton Sharecropper!"

It all started in Snyder, Texas, where I was living with my sister, Eva, and her husband, Joe Bob. (that's right,- Joe Bob) I had hitch-hiked, or rode the freight, I don't remember which now, from my home in Modesto, California, because of some reason that escapes me at this moment,(when I was a kid, it didn't take much for me to decide to travel)to Odessa, Texas, only to find out Shike (that's what we called Eva) and Joe Bob and family had moved to Snyder to open up a new oil field roustabout office for Phillips Petroleum there so I stuck out my thumb and went on to Snyder.

I found them living in a tent camp while Joe built a house on an acre just outside of town and I promptly moved into one of their tents. Joe didn't need anyone right then so I looked around and found a job delivering ice to colored town. (That's another story)

Right away I became acquainted with a boy my age (14, I think) by the name of Marshall Johnson. His nickname was 'Hotshot' shortened to 'Hot'. He and I hit it off right away.

He had a couple of brothers and a couple of sisters, the oldest sister, age 11, was named Shirley. Here is a picture of her with one of her bro's and a couple of sisters:

The biggest girl is Shirley. The one with the arrow pointing toward is my neice, Phyllis.
Now to make the long story short.

I left Snyder with the family of Hot and Shirley and went to Cash, Arkansas to sharecrop. The old man found a nice sized field with a cabin for us and we started picking cotton.(Shirley had turned 12 by now)

I wasn't too swift at picking but could hold my own with just about anyone else my age or younger.

After the second or so day of picking, we were sitting at the supper table and the old man asked me how I liked the meal. I told him I really liked it and he told me Shirley had cooked it. I smiled at Shirley and said it was good.

Then the old man and Mrs Johnson began to brag up Shirley and extoll her virtues at cooking and housekeeping. I, of course, agreed. Then they started complimenting me on my cotton picking prowess and I blushed a thank you to them.

Then 'mom and dad' began telling me about what a good wife Shirley would make and, once again, I agreed. 'oops'...

Later, when Hot and I were outside a ways relieving ourselves into a canal or behind a tree or something, Hot patted me on the back and said, "Welcome to the family!"

I didn't say anythig but the light finally came on in my brain and I realized I had been 'promised' Shirley as a wife. (Remember, this way Arkansas a long time ago.

I quietly gulped and we went to bed, resting up for another day of picking cotton ot whatever we were destined to do. I didn't wait around to find out.

Early the next morning, just before daylight, I grabbed my hat, my sack of clothes and my guitar and tip-toed out of there. I walked for a ways then got a ride from some people to the highway, stuck out my thumb and was out of the county before the Johnsons even woke up!

Well, there you have it; my days (all two of them) as a sharecropper. I didn't get paid for any of it but I think I still came out ahead!

PS...You never know, though,-Shirley was kinda cute,-for a little girl with no reason to wear a bra! She probably turned out to be a knockout, but, believe me, I ain't too curious about it!



Blogger bigwhitehat said...

I don't understand how my tirade about border policy could turn into that great story. But I'm glad it did.

7:56 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home