2018-08-10 / Travel

Part 8: Picking tobacco worms

By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D. WarnerM@ TheColumbiaStar. co m

The tobacco worm (hornworm) can be controlled by hand-picking or with pesticides. The tobacco worm (hornworm) can be controlled by hand-picking or with pesticides. (Note: This series is from my father’s memoirs I found long after his death.)

Tobacco was the major crop in Williamsburg County. Curing of tobacco was the height of summer parties. Someone had to stay at the barn to maintain the same temperature for three or four days. The people at the barns would have watermelon cutting, peanut boils, fish frys, chicken bogs... anything to draw people and break the monotony.

My father told me, “Papa wasn’t a farmer. Never the less, I had chores to perform, but not like many of my playmates who toiled in the fields after school everyday.

“When I was about 12 years old, Mr. Ferrell, our next door neighbor ( Rip Ferrell’s father), worried because he figured

I was lazy. And, he let me know.

“He stopped me as I was getting on my bicycle and told me, ‘I have a good job for you. You can pick worms off my tobacco crop. I’ll pay you a penny a worm.’

“One day after school, Mr. Ferrell took me to his tobacco farm on the road to Manning, gave me a bucket, and put me out to pick worms. In the first place, I was scared of the worms, something I didn’t tell him. In the second place, the worms were the same color as the tobacco leaves and were hard to see. I spent the whole afternoon walking up and down the rows. I never saw the first worm.

When Mr. Ferrell picked me up, I showed him my empty bucket. He fussed at me all the way home, saying, “You are hopeless! Just plumb lazy. I give up on you!”

Next week: The Laundry and the Filling Station

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