Pullin' Boles

Pullin' Boles

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The sun which showed weakly through the clouds that covered nearly the entire sky looked halfway mildewed.  And it was cold.  The wind was blowing about 15 or 20 miles per hour, and coming off the snow in the shaded areas of the farm.

It was Christmas break, and we were trying to get a little money to buy clothes for the rest of the school year.  It was cold . . .

We did get some toys which were few, 'cuz what little money we had was spent on food and clothes . . .  We got things necessary to live.  We didn't buy toys when we barely had food to sustain the family, plus, play was not allowed because every hand was needed to help support the family.  It was cold . . .

Pulling cotton boles was something very few people did because of the small amount of money that was to be made doing it.  You literally stripped the cotton stalks and everything you got went into the bag.  You were using last summers cotton sack made of canvas with a strap that went over one shoulder with which to pull it.  It was cold . . .

When cold, the canvas is stiff.  The boles weigh up pretty heavy, and it doesn't take long until you've got a huge dead weight which is easier to pull than you'd think.  It was cold . . .

Your hands, being very cold, would get splits in them, most of the time deep enough to bleed.  We didn't have gloves, so that made it much worse.  We got 2¢ pound.  I worked all day, and got 120 lbs. and Mom got over 300 lbs.  I made $1.20, and Mom made $3.00.  This was for a full days work.  It was hard work, and it was cold . . .

So, when we went shopping, we were very careful with our money.  It really made a difference too, when it came time to get a pair of shoes.  After working like I did, no one had to tell me not to step in the water, or polish your shoes, or take care of your shoes.  I knew what it took to get that pair of shoes!

One day that stands out in my mind was Mom and I, and an Aunt, I think it was an Aunt Shirley or Aunt Betty, were pulling boles.  Grandpa was trying to get the field done so he could get the stalks shredded before the prevailing snow fell.  It was cold . . .

I have always had problems with my ears, and because of the cold wind, was having extreme earaches, and had nothing to put on my ears.  Mom took her silky scarf off her own ears, and wrapped mine with it.  I remember crying with my earaches but having to stay as we didn't have a choice.

We finished out that day, making some $8.40 together, and added it to Dad's check of $48.00 for a weeks work.  At that time he was working unloading 100 lb. bags of concrete from rail cars at Howard Johnsons Lumber Yard.

Because of the lack of money, that night, Dad decided to move us to California, and the next morning, instead of going to pull boles, we headed out for California.  Dad had a '56 Buick, and drove straight through without sleeping, stopping long enough to get gas and buy some bread and bologna and use the restrooms.

All we had to our name besides the house Dad had built was carried in the car.  That was in '61.  It was colder than the dickens, money was very, very short, but we made it to Corcoran, California.  Dad rented us a little 1 bedroom cottage in Dixie's camp over on Orange Ave., and promptly found a job with J.G. Boswell Company.

There were 5 of us all together, and Mom was pregnant again.  But, we had plenty now that Dad had secured a line of credit with Hamilback's grocery store, and now had a steady job with which to pay the bills.

But I was thankful, because I never had to pull boles again.

Did I mention it was cold?

George Cavaness

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