A couple of more thoughts about tobacco, if I may, and they both involve my wife and her daddy. You see, love will make you do crazy things. First of all, when I was in college and dating Penny, who is now my wife, I somehow ended up in her dad’s rather large patch of tobacco helping him top it. Just the two of us. THE ENTIRE PATCH. That is a pretty good way for a man to check out the guy who is dating his daughter. That works the other way, too.
The next story also demonstrates what love can get you into. After we had been married a year or two, I drove to Bowling Green to help my father-in-law house his entire crop of tobacco. We loaded it out of the field and onto wagons. From the field, we went to the barn where I worked the bottom tier all day. The physical labor was tough, but that wasn’t the problem. This happened to be the first time I had ever handled wet tobacco. All of you seasoned farm hands can predict what happened next. On the way back to Cadiz that Saturday night, Penny and I stopped at Jade Palace in Hopkinsville to eat. I didn’t even make it through the first bowl of soup before I got violently sick. That sickness stayed with me as I suffered through my first and only bout of tobacco poisoning. Oh, the things a man will do because of love.
Let me tell you one definite benefit of working in tobacco – that is the tailgate dinner. More than once, I can vividly recall a farmer’s wife bringing a truck to the field, dropping the tailgate and laying out the most awesome spread of food that one can imagine. One such lady who brought such a spread was the late Ms. Dean Carr. If I remember correctly, Ms. Dean rolled up in Mr. Hollis’s black Ford Truck, dropped the tailgate and instantly the truck turned into a Morrison’s Cafeteria. A meal like that sticks to your ribs, as the farmers liked to say.
My concluding thought on tobacco involves one of the five senses. To be more specific, the sense of smell. There isn’t much that pleases my sense of smell more than dark tobacco being fire-cured in the fall. There are two places each fall where I experience that smell. One is between the big cities of Montgomery and Gracey when I pass by Matt Rogers’ R & B Farms tobacco barns. The plethora of barns by the side of the road put out an intoxicatingly sweet tobacco smoke smell. I never have never failed, not even once, to roll my window down when passing that site.
The other site that I would always come nose-to-atmosphere with the smell of tobacco firing would be on the road between Wallonia and Dawson Springs. Each fall for the last 30 years, I would take my cross country team to Dawson Springs to run. On the way home from Dawson Springs, there were always a few things one could count on. The sun would be setting in the west, smoke from the tobacco barns would be wafting out of the barns, the air would be filled with the sweet smell of tobacco curing and my driver’s side window would be open. Oh, how I already miss that yearly trip and that bus full of cross country kids.
Next week, I will work toward concluding my farm series with stories from the coaches’ hay crew. Who knows? It could take two weeks. Why hurry?
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.