Martha Yarborough DiPalma
© Copyright 2017 by Martha Yarborough DiPalma
“This summer you’re going to stay with your cousin,” Dad said. I noticed he had taken out his handkerchief from his back pocket and was wiping his eye. Was he crying? “Your mom is sick and needs to go to the hospital for a few weeks.” What? Mom? Sick? Seeing Dad with his handkerchief and hearing his words, confused and excited me as a ten year old, but his usual calm self helped me relax.
In spite of no television, video games or backyard swimming pool, Betty, John, Jr., Julian and I found lots to do. Sometimes we played board games, cards, went on bike rides, took walks, saw an occasional movie or took turns playing the piano. I loved it that I learned how to play “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul.”
I had noticed a large field on the side of the house. There were straight rows of plants loaded with white fluffy balls, baking in the hot sun. One day Betty said, “Let’s go pick cotton!” I had no idea what that meant, but I was game. When we got outside, there were lots of people walking in the field dragging large sacks slung over their shoulders. They were picking the fluffy balls off the plants and stuffing them in their sacks. We found a couple of sacks, went into a part of the field, and began to pick and stuff for what seemed like hours. It got so hot that Betty and I decided that we had done enough.
Near the field, there was a large scale with a hook on it. I followed Betty to the scale to have our cotton weighed. Pretty soon all the workers came in with their sacks, too. They waited while we had ours weighed. I was proud when the scale registered one pound. Betty’s cotton weighed one pound, too! I noticed the workers were snickering softly, turning their smiling faces away from us. Then one by one, the workers’ sacks were weighed. Not a one was under one hundred pounds!
All these years later, I’m thinking that each of our sacks alone probably weighed ONE POUND! I’m pretty sure that was the only day we picked cotton. (By the way, Mom got well!)