I remember the day I tried to pick up a two-hundred pound sack of fertilizer. I was young and thought I was strong but I could not budge it. A short, thin, wiry man walked up, knelt down and grabbed it, heisted it up and onto his shoulder and walked off with it. This took place at R.W. Griffins Warehouse somewhere around 1959. By then, 200 pound sacks were relics, but back in the bowels of that old warehouse there were many relics that today would be priceless antiques. I would go there each day after school and help do whatever work was at hand, like unloading a boxcar of fertilizer until 5:30 and quitting time, whereupon I would catch a ride home with one of the men who worked there and who lived close to our home. You see, my Momma was working in Douglas at C.O. Smith Guano Company then and she moved me from the Hebron Institute of Higher Learning of the Piney Woods to the Douglas Elementary School where she thought for some reason that I would have more opportunity to excel. This plan might have worked except for the assorted miscreants in my sixth grade class with whom I became fast friends. All I knew at that time was hunting, fishing, and work. They introduced me to other areas of human endeavor that I didn’t even know existed, all of which were in direct conflict with my Sunday school upbringing and complete innocence. Of course, they say the same thing about me though I am the one still in recovery. Anyway, rather than ride home with Momma each afternoon, I chose to work at the fertilizer warehouse for free after school and hang around with the older men who didn’t care if I smoked, chewed, or cussed, as long as I worked. Muddy Waters called it being a ‘mannish boy’.
I am glad that fertilizer came in 100-pound sacks by the time I was in my prime. I could handle them all day long. By the time I had made my fortune and retired from farming, 50-pound bags became the norm. It is a good thing, too, for I could hardly handle a 25-pound bag now. By the time this new generation takes over, fertilizer will probably have to be sold by the five-pound sack full because I believe we are getting softer with each passing generation. For most of this latest generation, a truly hard day’s work would kill them dead as a doornail.
I believe that if every South Georgia County started a county ‘education’ farm where all the criminals and other ne’er-do-wells of the community could be sentenced to work the fields all season long, we would be better off. After a daylight to dark day of topping and suckering tobacco, hoeing cotton, or pulling weeds from the peanuts in the summer heat, most of this criminal class would petition the Governor to let them go back to school where they would be glad to excel in order to avoid more of the ‘education’ we used to take as a given.
I can see the Reverend’s Al and Jesse and a host of Hollywood stars like Alec Baldwin, Woody Harrelson, Rosie O’Donnell and Steven Spielberg picketing at the end of the row and spouting platitudes about how inhumane it is to make people work like this.
To tell you the truth, I think the whole country would be better off if the entire Hollywood, network news, and D.C. crowd had to endure a little taste of this ‘education’. It might cause a rebirth of common sense.