Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Pickin' Peas

Country at HeartI've blogged about several kinds of work I did as a child. I think peas is the one that I only did one summer ... one summer too many. Since my dad did mostly farm-related work, I guess everybody in the country knew that he and his brood were available for whatever...whenever, so here they'd come ... knocking at our door, for hired hands, so to speak.

We picked peas for a kindly, elderly gentleman who lived further on down the road closer to Patmos. I want to say something about his name. First of all, I didn't know that men were named "Pat" ... his name may have been short for Patrick, but that I don't know for sure. Secondly, while we knew him as Mr. Pat Rattler, I'm still not sure that is the correct spelling of his name, but that's the way it sounded to us. It's such an unusual name, and we didn't know anybody else with that last name. I always wondered if his family got their name from having killed a rattle snake ... or having been bitten by one ... just a thought. Anyway, Mr. Pat had this nice, big house and a small, but good-sized pea patch across the road. And that year, either my dad volunteered or he "drafted" him to help pick his peas.

The pay ... I have no idea, but apparently Dad was paid something, no doubt close to slave wages. That's just sort of the way things went way back when. But at any rate, my dad was a good, dependable worker, and he wanted his children to grow up and become just like him. Well, I can say, he set an excellent example, and it "took" with a few of his offspring.

The day that I remember most about this job is the one when I got too hot and my dad told me to go and relax under the big shade tree – my favorite place to be. Our delicious cheese-sandwich lunch was in a brown paper bag near the tree. All I can remember is that when I opened the bag, the ants had beat me to my meal ... but that's not the end of this story. Ants aren't poisonous, and we didn't consider them nasty either. So, after I blew all those little, brown 12-legged creatures off my sandwich, I settled down to a nice, little midday feast.

Pickin' Peas

Photo: ksena32/Fotolia

I don't remember going back (after lunch) to help my dad fill the wicker baskets nor do I remember going back the next day. Perhaps I did, because unpleasant memories have a way of escaping my mind, That's because this, and any other non-play activity, ended up being just another day of back-breaking labor.

By the way, Grandma grew several kinds of peas, but at least I didn't have to help her pick 'em. And that fact alone made those little green balls taste that much better when they landed on my plate at supper time.