Revisiting putting in ‘baccer’

By RUDY COGGINS
Posted 8/5/22

You don’t see too many tobacco fields while traveling on a main highway. You’ve got to ride the country roads.

Around my house, there are numerous tobacco fields that have rich, …

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Revisiting putting in ‘baccer’

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You don’t see too many tobacco fields while traveling on a main highway. You’ve got to ride the country roads.

Around my house, there are numerous tobacco fields that have rich, green-colored leaves due to recent rains.

Pretty soon, it will be time to “put in tobaccer,” as my grandpa used to say.

I remember those summers.

Mom would drop me off at grandma’s house around 4 a.m.

After a quick breakfast, I’d climb onto the Massey Ferguson with grandpa and we’d “putt-putt” our way toward the field. Sometimes, he’d let me sit in his lap and drive, always telling me to “keep her straight boy.”

Other times, I’d sit on the back of the harvester and crop.

It wasn’t so bad until the sun decided to bake us.

Sweat always rolled down into my eyes, but I didn’t dare wipe them.

My hands were always covered in sticky tobacco gum, along with my hair, T-shirt, old jeans and boots. Unlike the “smarter” croppers sitting beside me, it never dawned on me to wear gloves.

Depending on grandpa’s mood, he’d ship me off to the big red barn in the backyard. I’d climb into the rafters and spend the day hanging sticks of “baccer.”

It got hot when that tin roof warmed up.

Talk about feeling roasted.

We’d leave the barn for our mid-afternoon break and seek the solace of shade underneath big oak trees. It wasn’t that much cooler, but it did provide some relief.

After another couple of hours in the “cooker,” it was time to go home.

If mom picked me up, she had a blanket covering the entire back seat. Most of the time, I’d fall asleep from being worn out.

If dad picked me up, he made me sit in the back of the truck. You couldn’t fall asleep with him because rickety ole Lula Belle didn’t miss a bump, pothole or anything else on the way home.

Speaking of home.

“Lose the clothes, kiddo,” mom would say before I stepped into the house.

After I removed every stitch I wore, I ran straight for the tub. Steam from hot water filled the bathroom and I sighed “ahhh” as I settled in for a good scrubbing.

Thinking I could have possibly fallen in and gone missing, mom always knocked on the door and asked if I was done.

I wouldn’t get out until my skin had wrinkled.

Most of the time the aroma of a home-cooked meal coaxed me out of the bathroom.

Wrapped in a towel with wet hair, I’d fix a plate and wolf everything down despite mom’s warning to chew before I swallow.

A full stomach usually put me to sleep.

I knew 4 a.m. wasn’t too far away.

Reach Rudy Coggins at rcoggins@mydailyrecord.com.

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