Junie's Place: Farm Life of the Past: Cotton Shed

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Farm Life of the Past: Cotton Shed

I will be posting some little stories from my husband's early life growing up in Alabama,1930s-40s

I will identify all of these with 'Farm Life of the Past: ...'
This will all be about my husband's memories of growing up in Alabama.

Hope some of you will find something of interest here! (It's been kinda fun writing - so far!)

The Cotton Shed

My husband, Charles, grew up in north Alabama, in a farm family of 10 kids. He was number 8 in the line-up, having 3 older brothers and 4 older sisters. He would have 2 sisters born after him.

He has so many stories of his early life, growing up in the country in a family that farmed for a living, as most did at that time in the rural south. The stories are entertaining in the re-telling but not, necessarily, in the living through them.

Charles has memories of living in several different locations during his early life, but all in the general area of north Alabama, Limestone Co.

The home place of this remembrance of my husband was what the family always referred to, in later years, as the frontier place. The house and all the outbuildings were made from rough-cut logs! Even in the late 1930s, that farm had to have been old! The time of this account was when my husband was about age 4 -as near as he can determine - probably in 1939. He was born in April, 1935.

The family grew cotton, with all the kids, as they grew old enough, doing their share in the fields and around the farm. Old enough, in those days, was by age 6 or so. The fields were plowed in those earliest days, not with a tractor, but with a plow pulled by mules! (Joe and Nell are 2 Mule names I remember hearing!) Between the planting of cotton in the spring and picking of the cotton in the fall, came the hoeing and thinning of the growing crops; a dreaded job, I have been told.

Cotton was the main crop, however a garden was always a necessity, too, with 12 people in the family, to feed. They always had cows for milk and butter…chickens for eggs and meat…and hogs for lard and sausage and other meats!

(And that’s another story for later!) :) *Jake*

In 1939, Charles was not yet old enough to work but tagged along after the older brothers around the place.
I suppose it was fall because they were harvesting cotton. It was stored - just loose cotton- in a shed (cotton crib) built just for that purpose - a building about 16x16 ft. Like all the buildings of the farm this small building was made of logs, but unlike the house, it had small spaces between the logs not filled in with mortar! Breathing spaces…which would come in handy!
Being near the end of harvesting the building was 2/3 full of fluffy, loose cotton;
to a height of 5 feet or more.

The older brothers, in fun, decided to dig a hole in the pile of cotton, and put the little brother down in it… face down, flat on the floor, with his nose against a breathing crack between the logs! They did this and then covered him with the cotton, completely… telling him to keep his nose to the crack and lie real still! Miraculously, this little boy did not panic but did exactly as his brothers told him to do.
I feel sure they didn’t leave him like that for long, but to a little boy, it had to be scary! Dangerous too!

…However, it ended well. You’ve all met my Charlie! :) Country boys CAN survive! (his own words!)

Every July we visit the folks in Alabama, and we always ride out and see all the old places of my husband’s childhood. On this particular place, the only building still there is the cotton shed! I have taken pictures of it a few times and we have even talked of trying to buy it, dismantle it and bring it to our place here in Ocala, Fl., and re-assemble it. I would love that!
It would make such a wonderful addition to our place here…for a garden shed! Or just for the HISTORY of it!

The shed (crib) is still the same except now it has a tin roof. In the early days all the buildings had wood shingled roofs.

#1- a recent pic of the cotton shed
#2- another original building, from that time and place,
with the wood shingled roof)
This was the smoke house. The baby is Charles’ youngest sister, Mildred!
(This photo, late 30s)

June Kellum



At 9:37 PM , Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I love hearing old stories of days gone by. My grandpa told some of the greatest stories from his childhood in MO.
Charles was a tough little fella to stay underneath all that cotton, face down. Most kids would have hollered up a storm!
It would be such a fantastic surprise if you could have that shed all set up on your property for Charles. He would be overhwelmed by it!

At 4:59 AM , Blogger Peter said...

I like the concept and first episode June, I think I'd stick with Farm Life of the Past, "Memories of Charles Kellum" sounds a bit like an obit.

At 8:30 AM , Blogger JunieRose said...

Thanks for reading , Jamie Dawn.

Yes, Charles must have been some kid, to do that, but I think that it was just that he had such total trust in Gene, his oldest brother...Scary for me just to think of such a thing!

It would be really cool to get that old shed but a major deal to do.


At 8:34 AM , Blogger JunieRose said...

Thanks for reading, Peter. I may go with this plan for a bit- depending if it's well received. Don't want to bore ppl too much! :)

You may be right about the 'obit' part :) I just wanted to identify where the stories were coming from! C. DOES have some interesting stories to tell! :) He's pleased with me writing about his early life.


At 10:14 AM , Blogger Jacqui said...

What a great story June, I hope you will keep going with it. I do hope you get the chance to buy the cotton crib.

Glad too that you have enjoyed my travels, last night for the Us, but there is one more episode as I stopped of in England before coming home.
Cheers jacqui

At 10:23 AM , Blogger JunieRose said...


Thanks for your nice comments-I probably will post a few more'Farm stories' Charles likes being featured in my blog, I think! :) and he really does have a lot of fun stories to tell!

I truly have enjoyed your travels...You make it sound so EASY! :)


At 11:19 PM , Blogger Joy Des Jardins said...

How nice to find out some things about Charles's childhood. Ten kids...WOW! Nice post Junie.

At 12:33 AM , Blogger JunieRose said...

Thanks for reading!

Charles has many stories to tell- some very funny-some sad-all interesting, I think! :)

I'll try not to overwhelm with them!


At 7:00 AM , Blogger Merle said...

Hi June~~ This was very interesting and
promises to be a great series. We all
like to hear stories from the past.
I am glad that Charles is pleased and look forward to hearing more.
Cheers, Merle.

At 9:33 AM , Blogger JunieRose said...

Thanks, Merle,

Charles has many stories which I have always found interesting so I thought others might like them too!

It's a glimpse into an earlier life that so many younger people are completely unaware of!

It was a hard life in so many ways, but it had it's moments of joy and fun too, and produced close family bonds!


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