The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hayes Hollow - School Money

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1986

Issue: September, 1986

Now comes September and the beginning of another school year in the Blue Ridge. This turned my thoughts to my school days and the ways I earned money to buy books and clothes. I wonder how many children in this day and time still do the same thing. I dare say, not many, but there are a few children here in the mountains doing the same thing I did for school money.

As soon as school let out for the summer vacation Dad let me milk one of the cows and sell the milk. Then he would give me part of the milk check. By summer's end that had amounted to a neat sum of money. Now I never did mind milking a cow, but when she swished that tail through my face, that really did sting and bring tears to my eyes. But I just kept on daring "Old Goldene" to do that again!

I helped Grandpa Hall plant and pick beans. This wasn't as bad as it sounds. There was always a crowd of young people working so time went by real fast. Grandpa didn't mind us having a little fun as long as we didn't get too rowdy. He even joined in sometimes. I picked green beans and octobers. The october bean has a pretty red striped pod. This was my favorite picking because they are such a bright color. When picking beans some of the kids liked to get paid by the bushel, but I always liked getting paid by the hour. It took a long time to pick a bushel of beans, and I wasn't fast enough to make much money that way. Sometime I helped Grandpa cut and bag cabbage. Somehow the cabbage bit didn't appeal to me very much.

In hay season. I made several dollars working in the hay. Grandpa hooked the hay rake to his old dodge pick-up, and this was faster than using the horses. Sometimes I rode the hay rake and dumped the hay in the wind rows. This was a pretty good job, just a little rough over a rocky place. I helped carry up old timey hay shocks using hay poles. Who minded that? Not me, because most of the time some good-looking fellows were there to help. One day we walked into a yellow jackets nest while carrying a shock of hay. Boy! That was a hot time in the hay field that day. I believe I earned every penny I got paid that time after being stung four times.

I was a champion haystack tramper in the neighborhood. One summer I did fifty-seven. This was a pretty good job, and I just set down and rested when they ran out of shocks and had to carry more. I really racked in quite a lot of money in haying time.

When September rolled around Grandpa would take his late October beans and cabbage to Spray and Leaksville, North Carolina. Then it was time for me to start picking chinquapins. (This is a member of the chestnut family having smaller burs and nuts.) I sent them by Grandpa to sell. It was easy back then to pick ten or fifteen pounds of chinquapins. The money was added to my school fund.

Sometimes I picked apples and earned a little money. But I had an incident happen to me about the apple money, that really hurt my feelings in more ways than one. One day I had been helping Grandpa Hall pick apples and he paid me two dollars. As I was walking home a dog bit me. I lost my two dollars and got a sore leg throwed in extra. I cried and cried about my two dollars.

So summer went by and school started again. I had money for my books and clothes. My Mom could sew real well and with my money I was well dressed. I never remember being ashamed of my clothes because with my parents help and my school money I was well dressed. Back in those days I had a lot of money by the time school started. Not once do I regret any of the work I did back then. I think it really helped me along life's way.