Those of us big enough to drag our own sacks would
pick our own row of cotton, while the smallest
cotton picker who couldn't drag a sack, would help
Dad pick his row. This was the on-the-job training
phase for their cotton picking days and Dad was a
good trainer when it came to picking cotton. That is
one of the main reasons Dad always told Mr. Cobb
that he couldn't operate a combine to harvest
or a cotton picking machine during the cotton harvest.
He would explain, " I have nine pickers to drive
already". Drive them he did, with very good results.
Depending on how good the cotton was, the Seay cotton pickers could pick
between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds of cotton a day.
About thirty minutes to an hour after the Seay cotton pickers had been at
work, other pickers began to show up. Dad often asked, "What did you do before
breakfast?". This was Dad's way of asking them what took them so long to get
to the field. I reckon it began to bother Mr. Herman "Peg" Mabe, because he
would frequently get to the field as early as we did and sometimes a little
earlier. Then Peg would spout, "Hey Willie, what did you do before breakfast?"!
Mr. Mabe was a colorful old man with a fairly large family of his own. He
got the nickname "Peg" because he had a peg-leg, which was the result of trying
to hop a train when he was hoboing around in the thirties, like Dad did back then.
(more on the Mabe clan later!)
Meanwhile, back at the cotton patch, we are racking it back, trying to pick as
much cotton as we can for .03 or .035 cents a pound. You gotta know it took a
lot of cotton to weigh a pound, much less 1,200 pounds and that 1,200 pounds
would bring the Seay cotton pickers $36.00 or $42.00 on a good day!