in rural South Carolina
1840s to 1950s
tells of cotton picking....
button to hear Mr. Waiters talk about picking cotton back when
family lived in these houses.
(Will launch a separate MP3 playback box.) Or access the MP3
file directly at AWaitersCotton.
On this recording, Archie Waiters tells about cotton
time at Mars Bluff when he was a young man. Most of the
workers on a cotton farm earned a set amount of money for a day's
but when they were picking cotton, they were paid by the
If they worked very hard and picked many pounds, they could make
money than at any other time of the year. So everybody
be in the field picking cotton as fast as they could.
On this recording, Archie Waiters does most of the talking but
occasionally you hear the voice of the interviewer Amelia Vernon
him a question. The conversation began when Waiters replied
the question "Would almost everybody be in the field picking
there picking it. It ain't nobody sitting round home.
Men, women and children. The babies be out in the
You don't leave no babies home. Take your baby out and put
off in the shade. Water.
Nobody home. Nobody home.
The little children watch over the babies. And you better
him cause if he drink up all his milk. The big one will drink up
and the baby be hollering and you don't know what he hollering
to watch the children who are watching the babies?
babies. They drink up the milk and you be in trouble.
baby be hollering and you ain't know what ailing him. Think
VERNON: Well how old
the children be usually that you would leave watching the babies?
WAITERS: Some of them
sometimes four years old, five years old. Sometime would be
six year old would be helping you pick cotton.
VERNON: A six year
cotton. And five year old. Sometimes five years would
picking. Them four years old would stay with the little one.
VERNON: Who would
when everybody is out picking cotton?
WAITERS: One would
home, leave out the field about eleven o'clock and put on a pot.
the other ones would pick right on up 'til twelve. They
pick right on to twelve. Then they go home and eat dinner and be
in the field by twelve-thirty picking cotton, in all that hot
heat. That's right.
VERNON: When you
picking, you would have a whole lot of rows close to your sheet?
You could get as many rows as you want close to sheet. You
get enough rows to last you two days if you want.
VERNON: It seems to
that it would lonesome, that people would be spread out so far
WAITERS: It would.
anybody to talk to.
wouldn't need to be talking. You want to be grabbing that
cotton. People would keep you--and beat you everyday.