Somebody yelled ‘RC time!’

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Its brand name is not found in the Top Ten Lists of Favorite Soft Drinks. In fact, its name is not even found in the Top Twenty. I found one list that went past Top Twenty and found the Royal Crown Cola brand, better known as simply RC, at number 22.

Yet, in southern folklore, or more appropriately southern rural folklore, is there any better known appellation of a work break than RC Time? When thinking about those midmorning breaks in the tobacco patch, no one ever wanted a “Co-Cola and a moon pie.” It has always been and will be, until Jesus comes back, “RC and moon pie.”

I have been reading about the scarcity of summer jobs for our teenagers. I was born a little too early, I guess, for there were many times in my preteen and teenage years that I would have given a pretty penny for the scarcity of a job. On the farm, back in the old days, there was always something to be done. Or, at least, something that my daddy thought needed to be done.

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Basically, the summer was built around gathering tobacco. We had two days’ work on our farm and we helped my kinfolks another two days. So, for four days in the week, the die was cast. The other day was spent pulling weeds out of the peanut patch.

On Saturday, it was either, help a neighbor gather his little “shirttail” of a patch or cut the grass at our house and granny’s. Thankfully, Saturday afternoon we got to go to the show or movie theatre as it might be known.

The tobacco patch work started around 6:30 in the morning and the dew would be dripping from the tall stalks of tobacco. Soaking wet in the morning dew was our status until the morning sun got real hot and dried the dew.

The sun wasn’t the only thing that got hot. So did we. Then, around 9:30, somebody would yell, “RC Time!” Talk about music to the ears.

Someone would be chosen to go the country store. There were many of those around and their drink boxes were filled with bottled Co-Colas, Pepsis, Mountain Dews, Orange Crush in the dark bottle, and RCs, of course.

We worked together for so long, the person who went for the drinks sort of knew what each of us would want. They didn’t always have Frostie Root Beer, so I would get a Royal Crown Cola.

Drinks weren’t the only thing we got in the morning. We also got a pack of crackers, a cinnamon roll, a pack of peanuts, or a candy bar. Choose one of those. I liked all of those, but most often would get a pack of Lance cheese and peanut butter crackers.

These days, that sort of snack comes in an elongated 6-pack. Back then, it was a stack of four crackers and I treated them with great reverence. After three hours of work in the hot sun and nasty tobacco patch, I was dirty, hungry, and you might say “my stomach was gnawing on my backbone!”

That short break would last about ten minutes, but what an amazing and welcomed ten minutes it was. Just the turning off of the machine that had been whirring all morning was a blessing. Then, after RC Time was over, it was cranked back up and we worked until noon.

Every day during the summer was about the same. And to think, that joy is being missed by most teenagers today. I know they couldn’t imagine or think it, but actually, they are missing a lot.