The calloused hands
Of a Kentucky coal miner,
The sad, solemn eyes
Of a hungry child,
The bent shoulders of a
Digging crab-grass from
His new-ground corn patch...1
I descend from a Georgia sharecropper. Actually, I descend from many "types" of farmers: A fourth great grandfather of mine was a planter. He was a large, wealthy landowner and conducted his business "plantation style." A second great grandfather of mine was a poor farmer. He owned his property, but that was about it. Finally, a great grandfather of mine was a sharecropper. He farmed his whole life, but never owned anything. These men (of no relation to one another) are examples of the wide spectrum of tenders of the good Earth found in my family tree.
Both of my grandfathers have shared stories of their upbringing on the farm. Grandpa Lincecum has told of nothing being wasted, and how meat was sometimes scarce. There was always good food from the garden, though. Grandpa Logue has told stories of questioning his mother as to why he had to sweep a dirt floor, as well as being very afraid of the king snake living in the barn that kept the rodent population down.
Half of my great grandparents were gone before I was born, but I vividly remember great grandpa Chester Campbell and the chicken coop in the backyard. A garden was present there, as well. In fact, I can also remember what seemed like a huge garden in the backyard of the Logue household (the whole backyard seemed a lot bigger when I was younger). To this day, Grandma Logue has a small patch of land she tends.
You might think all this reverence for the good Earth by my ancestors would mean I would have a green thumb, or at least translate into a love of being outdoors... Nope. That didn't make it's way to me.
However, the gifts and lessons that were passed down to me include a deep appreciation for our good Earth as well as a passion for preserving it, and the knowledge that the farmers of today deserve my utmost respect and gratitude for providing me with the good food I eat. For that, I can thank the generations of planters, farmers, and sharecroppers that came before.
Topic = the Good Earth
1. Excerpt from poem entitled "And I Have Loved" by Don West, 1946.