DAYS GONE BYE: Old MacDonald and that bunch 

Published 2:21 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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By Tom Boggs

Editor’s Note: This column was originally published April 24, 2002.

You might recollect something I said a week or so ago about the first warm day in the spring making near ‘bout all of us think we oughter be farmers.  Well, I’m sorry to reflect on the fact there’s a heap fewer farmers than there used to be.  

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Those cotton rows flat ruled this land around here for a long ‘ol time.  Big deal to see which farmer put out the first bale every year.  That cotton might of gone to one of several different cotton gins in the county by truck or by mule pulled wagon. 

I wrote about my old friend, Tony Easley, three years or so ago.  One of the things he told me he did in addition to running his store was to buy him a stocking foot mule, that was a high stepper.  Said he rented five acres from Myrl Adams and her mama, and cleared it up. 

Tony, whose real name was Marzell, then told me he planted watermelons, corn and potatoes on the ends, and raised cotton in the middle.  Got four 500 pound bales off that place the first year, and he recollected Mr. Hartzell down at the gin asking him where he got all that cotton. When he was relating this story to me, Tony kinda threw back his shoulders, gave a satisfied grin, and said he told Mr. Hartzell he’d grown that on five acres, along with some melons, taters and a little bit of corn. 

I was talking to Judge Wade Drinkard the other day, telling him I’d bought me a cow farm to go along with my gardens.  He sorta chuckled, and reminded me of a story I’d forgot about.  His daddy, John Drinkard, bought a farm north of Linden one time, and after a very short while, he placed an ad in the paper saying, “FARM FOR SALE.  REASON FOR SALE:  CAN’T FARM.”

I don’t know if Wade was trying to tell me something or not. 

I was looking through a copy of Tharin’s Marengo County Directory for 1860-1861 loaned to me by my first grade teacher, Frances Crocker.  They called farmers “Planters” back in those days.  Came across the name of Anson W. Cooper, my Great, great granddaddy planting around Jefferson. 

Talking about planting, we know that the Vine and Olive Colony was set up by those Frenches  in Demopolis back around 1816 or so.  They got ‘em four townships at two bucks an acre on a credit of 14 years on condition they cultivated grapes and olives.  Well, the plants got here out of season, the vines withered away, and the olive seeds were defective.  Those fellows probably couldn’t farm to boot. 

Well, my old cap is off to all those folks who’ve tilled up the ground, worked a herd of cows or baby sat catfish all night.  Now, my brother, Billy, and I used to sorta baby sit catfish down yonder on the Alabama River, floating along in a flat bottom boat with 50 or 60 baited jugs in the water.  That was a long time before anybody dug a hole around these parts, and filled up that pond with a whole bunch of little ‘ol baby catfish that needed looking after pretty close. 

One thing about it.  Dirt is still dirty, and I think it’s mighty becoming under the fingernails in the springtime. 

Ee I ee I oh!

Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column, “Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.