Labor Day over: back to school

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Today is Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. I guess it’s time to go back to school. But wait. School has already started weeks ago. Times change and the school schedule that we have had for a while is one reason that makes me glad to remember when school started in September.

One of the main reason is that there were so many more children who lived on farms and were expected to fill in the gaps of work during the summer. When I think about where children live these days, there may be just as many who live in rural areas. The type of manual labor that was expected a few decades ago has disappeared.           

I’m not saying they couldn’t do the work. That’s a subject for another day, but just say, the work is not expected as it used to be. Farming is not the same.

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We were talking after church and many of us remember those farm jobs. I remember the crop of tobacco. That crop kept a farm busy all throughout the summer. There were many jobs and days associated with tobacco where I would have loved to have said to daddy, “I’d like to help you, but I’ve got to go to school today.” I’m sure that would have gone over pretty well!

One of the jobs that certainly has gone by the way, and I am thankful for it, was the hoeing that was needed for so many of the row crops. Chemicals take care of weeds these days, but I remember very well when a hoe was the caretaker of weeds in the cotton or peanuts.

At our farm and all the others, too, anyone could have seen standing up in a corner, a pretty good selection of hoes. Nowadays, I would venture to guess that, a good, sharp hoe would be hard to find. It’s about the same as finding a sharp axe around a barn.

Since Labor Day is on my mind today, there were a couple of comments that spoke to a person’s zeal, or lack thereof, to labor.

Regarding hoeing, if a young boy wasn’t too swift or adept at hoeing, it might be said of him that “he could never find a hoe handle that fit his hands.”

Another person might have said, “Billy’s not afraid of work. He can lay down right by it and it not bother him one bit.” I guess you get the picture. Billy was not one to jump in the back of the truck and go to the field.

Times have changed and so have attitudes. For instance, I just mentioned jumping in the back of the truck. What did I mean?

Our pick-up trucks these days are much fancier (and more expensive) than they used to be. There was the day when the cargo section of a pick-up was used as a transport for working kids. We would drive around the community and pick up our neighbors and “haul” them to the field for whatever work was needed.

I wonder what the Georgia Highway Patrol would say to my daddy these days if he saw six or seven young boys and girls sitting on the side of the truck and it traveling down the road. We probably wouldn’t be going to work after they saw him and someone would have to go bail him out of the pokey.

It’s different today and we can only remember how it used to be. There is no returning to those days and that’s alright. Labor Day has come and gone and so has starting school the day after. Sigh!