Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tobacco sticks

Or as we called them, baccer sticks. You didn't say reach me a tobacco was reach me a baccer stick. And I can remember our dad having a hard time finding a sawmill that would saw us some new ones.

This is not a good picture...not sure what I done wrong. I can't seem to improve it no matter how I try. But it still brings a flood of images to me every time I see it. Or if I hear the term, tobacco would probably be amazed at how many times my hands have handled these sticks. Along with those of my brothers.

In one season alone, first they are loaded on a wagon and taken to the tobacco patch. Then I and my brother next to me in age usually spread them, end to end through the tobacco patch. Through every two rows. As soon as we got started, my other brothers Neal and George would start cutting. And as we got older, I think Robert started cutting it also.

Anyway, so now they pick up the sticks and pound one end in the ground, stick a spear on the other end. (I wish I had a picture of one, but I don't.) I think they put 5 or 6 stalks of tobacco on each stick...correct me if I am wrong Neal. I didn't do this job, but was usually picking up any leaves that had broken off during the process.

Anyway, keep in mind that is the 3rd time they are handled...the tobacco is usually let set I think a day till it wilts. Then my brothers handle them one more time as they load the tobacco on the wagon, and one more time when they take it to the barn and hang it on the tier poles. One would be on the wagon handing the sticks full of tobacco to one brother who would be straddling the first set of tier poles, and he would reach it up to the next who would be straddling the second set of tier poles and hanging it on the third row up close to the roof. Now that makes a 5th time of handling those same sticks.Then, after the tobacco is cured, they have to go back and take the tobacco down and stand it in a pile against one side of the hallway. The tobacco is taken off the sticks to be graded, and the sticks are thrown to the side to be picked up and straightened into a pile similar to the one above at the end of the day.

Did you keep count of how many times the tobacco sticks were handled...I lose track every time I try. I think if I am counting right, that they are handled at least 7 times during one season. I really wish I had had more pictures to show you.