The Story of my Life
Louise Virginia (Weir) Frasier
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Plowing Out The Middles
Crops – cotton, corn, etc. – were planted in rows. The girls and women had to hoe the rows – get the grass and weeds from between the plants. The men plowed the rows with the cultivator. Usually two horses or mules were used to pull the cultivator. The men folk did this.
But the younger boys and girls had to plow the middle. In our case the girls did it. Land was cleared by clearing away the brush and leaving most of the trees standing. The trees were girded; a ring was cut around them through the bark and into the wood, so the tree would be standing but would die very soon. When the wind blew the tree down or it fell it was taken away. There were lots of trees, roots, and stumps in the land we tilled.
You plowed the middles with a scratcher that had 3, 4, or 5 prongs. Since the prongs were flexible trying to hold on to the scratcher handles was like riding a bucking horse. With all those roots and stumps you got kicked in the side, the stomach, the legs, all over. That was bad enough but our brother bought an old mare that had been used to pull a dray in town. A dray is what you called the ice wagon or any wagon used to haul anything in town.
This mare was blind. She didn’t know gee from haw and responded to the reins very slowly. Since our brother forgot to find out her name, we called her Maud. Doing anything with Maud was an experience that you never forgot especially plowing the middles. She stumbled over the stumps, fell down, and the scratcher bounced like a rubber ball. You began saying words that you didn’t know you’d ever heard spoken. You cussed and cussed.
Finally one day a younger sister said, “You’ll sure go to Hell for all that cussing you do”. I said “O.K. You plow”. She said, “O.K I will and I won’t cuss”. She took Maud. You had to lead her for she couldn’t be driven.
I got a book and sat on the wash bench waiting. About an hour later here she come. I didn’t hear her cussing, but she was sure mad. She said there was not a preacher in the country that could plow that mare without cussing. Papa heard her and decided Maud had to go. He was used to me being mad, but she never got mad at anything.
I’d get mad, say things, do things, for about 3 minutes - explode so to speak. But when it was over it was over. Never held a grudge. I’m still the same way. But have found out many people are not like that. And once words are spoken they are gone forever. And some people do hold grudges - and not only remember the words you’ve spoken but in their mind they grow and grow. So that old saying, ”Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is wrong for words are the most terrible weapon of all. You can treat a broken arm or a broken nose but a bruised ego can never be healed.
Louise Weir Frasier