Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 13, 2012

Remembering Hot Days!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The are hot days.  It is so hot we forget other hot days!  Everyone can recall some hot days, and I am not trying to ‘top’ anyone’s story.  In fact, I have known hotter days than those I will relate to you — but today my thoughts go back to some hot days in Texas!

As a young man I worked for the U.S. Agricultural Bureau.  My assignment was in the heart of central Texas.  My responsibility was to measure cotton fields.

Farmers were allowed to plant only so many acres of cotton.  These restrictions had to do with not flooding the market which would cause the price to drop so low that the economy suffered.  A farmer might have the land and resources to plant a 1000 acres, but he was limited to perhaps 600 acres.  The federal government would then give the farmer a subsidy to not plant the other 400 acres.  It was not my job to wrestle with the economics, fairness, or government control issues.  My job was to ‘police’ compliance to the program.

I would work from aerial photos of cotton fields.  It was my job to ground measure the amount of planted cotton to determine if the farmer was within his allotment.

Measuring wheels were not permitted . . . because they are not accurate. I had to drag what was affectionally known as the chain.

The chain was a metal tape 100 feet long.  There were 10 metal rings with a spike attached.  The first ring was planted . . . the chain was dragged until it was caught by the ring 100 feet back . . another ring was planted and the tape was threaded through that ring and you would drag the tape.  This continued until all ten rings were used and had come together.  Then you began the next 1000 foot walk.

A couple of 1000 foot walks might not seem far . . . but some fields were 300-500 acres!  But it was not the walking I remember . . . it was the heat!  Those were hot days!  Seems cotton fields are known for the heat.  Did you know that it is documented in Texas that cotton fields  have actually carbonized from the heat.  These cotton stalks partially burned, leaving only burnt stalks standing and thus becoming desiccated, dried up, ruined, destroyed.  Now that takes heat!  That is a testimony to hot!

Why would I want such a job?  Why would I want to suffer in such heat?  I have no problem answering.  Money, money, money.  The pay was exceptional and a young man like myself needed lots of money!

I equipped myself for the job.  I wore a big “Texas Ten Gallon” hat (straw of course because of the season and type work), and tall Texas boots.  Why if I had been carrrying a side arm, I would have looked like something out of an old western movie!

Now I was packing!  I had several things attached to that wide Texas belt.  There was my favorite hunting knife, an old military canteen and a snake bite kit that I was required to carry at all times.  Today, I would have packed a side arm — my .410 sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip!

Why?  Rattle snakes love hot cotton fields!  Rattlers abounded in those hot fields.  And they see the person before you see them!  The can strike a distance to half their length . . . and many of them are 5 to 6 feet long . . . and they can strike without coiling, although not with any distant.  So caution was necessary as you walked those cotton fields!

The snake bite kits were different from today.  Many dispute today some of the items in the kit and the instructions for use.  My kit had a razor to cut across the bite, a suction cup to avoid using your mouth and especially if you could not reach the bitten area with your mouth.  There was also an antivenom and bandages.  Much has changed  — the kits are different today, plus cell phones make it possible to get help.  My days were over 50 years ago!

I did see rattlers often.  But I decided they were there first, I won’t intrude.  I was very careful to look ahead before I would plant one of the rings in the ground.  I can gratefully say I never had a one-on-one battle with one of those rattlers!

The presence of those snakes seem to increase the heat from the sun.  Never relaxing your guard just seemed to make those fields hotter,  I do remember the heat well.

I would go to the fields early in the mornings to avoid the heat from mid-morning to later in the afternoon.  I might work from 6 a.m. to about 10 a.m. and then retire until about 3;30 to 4:00 p.m. and work until about dark.  If I was within 20 miles of where I was living, I would go home for those hours.  However, beyond that distance, I would find a little country store, get some cheese and crackers, a cool drink and a moon pie.  Somewhere I could usually find a shady place to eat, and lay down on the ground and take a nap.

Those were good days . . . but of all the memories . . . I remember hot, hot, hot!

Any merit in my recalling those hot days?  Well, there might be some sermon material here!  Hot, hot, hot brings to mind . . . you know the place in eternity!  The other thought has to do with that snake representing . . . sin!  But I will let you off today . . . no sermons!

Lawson

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