Pulling the Sack in Fisher County Texas

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Variances 1. Heavy wire loop opening 2. Wire wrap loop 3. Open-End tie strap

Subhead: 
The Journey of Migrants Experiencing the Harvest of King Cotton Before the Introduction of the Cotton Stripper

Workers Move to the Cotton Field

The Narrator: “The real thing: pulling bolls. Scant rainfall/little moisture was the norm in Fisher Co. that resulted in cotton being planted ‘two by two’. Two rows planted, and two rows skipped. The rule for cotton picking was ‘two rows, one sack, one laborer.’ The cotton sack, made of heavy-duty cotton duck was either 6, 10, 12 or 14 feet in length, to match the robustness of the picker. It’s surface on the underneath side was often reinforced with heavy cloth glued with white flour paste to prevent it from wearing out as it dragged on the rough plowed dirt. The shoulder strap on the top of the sack was placed over the worker’s head and rested on the shoulder, leaving both hands free to pull bolls (see sketch for variances). A variance was a modifier made from a stiff wire loop placed in the sack’s opening—by holding the entrance of the sack open, a picker could increase his production. Other modifiers to enable the actual weighing and emptying of the sacks included a wire loop in the middle of the sack to hang it on the scale; and, a tied- second opening at the end of the sack to make emptying it easier. Another multiplier to help someone produce more was to have a second sack on stand-by to reduce the “turn-around time” at the weighing—no waiting for the sack to be emptied into the trailer, just grab a new sack and go!”

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