This morning, Dianna (www.thesedaysofmine.com) posted about her babysitting job when she was a teenager. It took me back to the first real paying job I had, working in the peaches. Of course my sister and I were no strangers to work; as soon as we were old enough to distinguish between cane plants and grass plants we were given a hoe and sent to the field with our parents. But we weren't paid for our work except in essentials, and maybe a little purchase now and then at the five and dime on a Saturday.
After the boll weevil hit the cotton fields of the south, our county was brought back to life by peach orchards. Many fields and hills were terraced and planted with peach trees and sheds, where the fruit was packed for shipment, sprang up in communities. Even before I was old enough to work, my cousin and I would play at the shed while our parents picked peaches in the mornings and then worked in the packing shed in the afternoons. We ate cold lunches at noon, things Mama had cooked before we left home in the mornings: fried potatoes, Spam, and if they had to work past suppertime, we were sent down the hill to the little mercantile for a few slices of bologna.
When I got big enough to work for money, I was sent to the orchard to pick on the same trees with Daddy. We wore a sack around our shoulders and when it was full, it was emptied into a bushel basket. At the packing shed I was given a job picking out over ripe peaches before they went through the brushes to remove the fuzz. Now if you've ever been around fresh-picked peaches you know how bad that fuzz can make you itch! As the old man would dump a basket of peaches into the bin, fuzz would fly everywhere, settling on the bends of my arms and around my neck. But, I had a real paying job! And when payday came, even at 50 cents an hour, I had a check with my name on it! I was saving with my money, and after working every summer, when I needed money for college tuition I had some to go with the scholarship monies I received.
Now when I tell you that's the only real paying job I've ever had, you're going to say, "What kind of person is she?" I have always been a stay at home mom, but I have worked, let me tell you! For thirty nine years I've worked in the chicken houses and on the farm, contributing to the family income. So, you see, I'm not lazy.