First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 20
My family did not farm, and the only land owned was what our houses were built on. My grandmother did have a garden she enjoyed, not too big, and so did other family members here and there. That was the extent of the Davis agricultural experience to my knowledge. You might recall from a previous post my relatives, including my Dad, were mechanics.
Which begs the question, if my family didn’t farm, why on God’s green earth would I want to write a story about a family who does – and cotton at that? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the memory of a Sally Field movie, Places of the Heart. (1984) Have you seen it? Talk about perseverance. Sally Field’s character plays a widow with two children trying to eke out a living on a small forty acre cotton farm after her husband, the local sheriff, is accidentally shot by a young black boy. It’s 1935 and it’s a segregated South. It is a horrific ending for the boy.
While I don’t remember all of the movie, I do recall there was the possibility she would lose her farm because of a bank note. There was the desire to keep it, to make ends meet no matter what. I recall a scene where the cotton is being picked at a feverish pace, and the possibility of winning one hundred dollars for the first bale brought to market. There was emphasis on the pain of picking. All farming before some of the modern technological advancements of today was brutal. Whether it was cotton, tobacco, soybean or corn, you could count on back-breaking days of endless work in the heat.
These are the types of stories I love, with all the strife, heartache, and characters facing what seem like insurmountable challenges, and there is no better place for it to play out than in the rural South. – at least for me.
Sonny Creech and her family face similar circumstances. She loses her father in a tragic accident, and she, her brothers and mother are left to manage a much bigger cotton farm. One obstacle they face, along with many others, is Mother Nature. In hindsight, I believe Mother Nature is almost as much of an antagonist as Frank Fowler.
We understood what the drought did long before the cotton was picked.