Chopping cotton is a challenging experience. When I was young, I never mastered the skill. First, I'll let Manuela explain the procedure:
“We was chopping cotton. That’s why we ain’t come by to see you . . . working for Old Man Aaron, but we done finished doing that. I’m glad we’re through ’cause he’s mean.”
“Is that your hoe?” Bailey pointed to a hoe leaning against the porch.
“Don’t go near it.” Manuela cocked her head at a stern angle.
“Why not?” Bailey asked.
“It’s too sharp for little girls to put their hands on.”
“Chopping cotton? How do you do that?” Bailey asked.
“First you got to have a hoe. A sharp, sharp hoe. My grandpappy can file a hoe like nobody’s business. When he gets through filing it, it cuts good as a knife. We have to be careful when we tote the hoes over our shoulders.”
“But how do you chop cotton?”“You cut all the little plants but one or two that you leave a hoe width’s apart.”
Every time I tried to chop cotton, I would do a beautiful job until I reached the final step. Then I'd cut down the one remaining plant. No problem I thought. I'd simply replant it.
After two days there would be blank placed in the field where I had been chopping. My family decided in unison that I'd tote water and help cook. I simply couldn't chop cotton. I was an excellent picker though.
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