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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harriet Herring, February 5, 1976. Interview G-0027. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Remembering a farm childhood

In this excerpt, Herring remembers her father's cotton farm in the late 1920s and 1930s, when prices were quite low. She recalls playing with her sister on the cotton bales that rolled off her father's gin.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harriet Herring, February 5, 1976. Interview G-0027. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well then, he ran what seems like a very large farm.
HARRIET HERRING:
Well, it was only about six hundred acres, something like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did he plant primarily?
HARRIET HERRING:
Mainly cotton. He wasn't very keen about tobacco because it ate up timber too fast. But my brothers before he died did begin raising a little tobacco. A lot of people had been raising tobacco for quite a while, and he just saw that price floating away, you know. Of course they had a very valuable thing there in it; it was saved until fairly recently.
NEWIN BROWN:
Was he fairly successful as a cotton farmer?
HARRIET HERRING:
Well, cotton prices were awful low: seven and eight and ten cents a pound, I remember. What is it now, a dollar?
NEWIN BROWN:
About, I think, yes.
HARRIET HERRING:
Generally, a little above or a little below and so on. I remember as a small child my father came home from town (that's the only way he knew what the price of cotton was for the day, you know). And he said to my mother (he was talking about the price of cotton), "I believe it'll go to five cents." And I said, "Oh, Daddy, a bale?" And so they at least got a laugh out of that, you know, because they had fifty bales of cotton. He had a gin, and he would gin his own cotton. And then you know what he did with his seed? He cracked them so they wouldn't come up and used them for fertilizer; that was before they were using oil, cotton seed oil. [laughter] So anyway, I had been used to the bales; they were just rolled out in front of the gin. And we children in the neighborhood as we gathered, or any cousins or nieces or nephews that I had (I was a great-aunt when I was twelve years old, you see; my father's older children married and had children, and they visited a great deal), we'd go out and jump from one bale to the other, you know, and have games (who could get on the most, or whatever). And that's the reason I measured cotton in terms of bales. So I think they felt better when they thought at least they didn't have to sell it for five cents a bale.