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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Earning Pecan Money

Memories of a little girl gathering pecans in Malone.

By Amy Williams Kitt

Fall. . . I am reminded of my childhood in Jackson County FL. Leaves were gathering on the trampoline and atop the wet mildewed cover on the above ground pool in the backyard. Quietly, while we were sleeping, summer had given way to fall, filling the crisp air with new scents of nearby peanut farms and scattering the landscape with bare pecan trees. The sound of pecans in our driveway being crushed underneath the car wheels was inevitably followed by Mom’s grimace, “Girls that’s money on the ground”, she’d say. That sound haunting her, she would soon have us out in the yard picking up pecans for the rest of the afternoon.

Sitting on our knees in the tall Bermuda grass, each with a bucket nearby, we scattered throughout the front yard. I remember the sound of that “money” hitting the bottom of our plastic buckets as handfuls were dropped in by each of us at random, yet rhythmic moments across the yard, like someone drumming their fingers on a wooden table. Mom would walk around, her shirttail gathered up and filled with pecans, taking turns emptying her load into our buckets.

Aunt Mary would walk over from next door to join us, with a pecan grabber of some sort in hand that Daddy gave her. I’m sure it has a name, but basically it’s a stick with a cage at the bottom that forces the pecan into the chamber as you press down. Never a hair out of place, her attire for church and for picking up pecans was the same; a dress, stockings, and hard sole shoes. Aunt Mary would keep enough pecans to make a few of her famous pies, then generously dropped the rest of her fill into our buckets, as she moved around the yard softly humming familiar old Baptist hymns.

When Mom said it was time, which was usually when one of my older sisters had a full bucket, we’d drive down to the pecan place to sell our pickings. I was young, but old enough to know paper was worth more than coins, so each time the man set my bucket on the scale, I hoped with all my heart for a few bills, or at least one. Usually though I gleaned only a handful of coins. Mom’s excitement to my payout however, was always as if I was being handed $100. No matter how much I held there in my little hand, she would smile and say things like “Isn’t that wonderful?” or “Wow, what are you going to do with it?” I knew even then, her display had very little to do with the amount I held and more to do with the lesson contained in earning the coins being dropped in my hand.

After we sold our pecans, we would walk the rest of the block past the Malone Trading Company, past the dust laden and cracked windows of some long empty store-fronts, to the Tom Thumb on the corner, to buy a coke and a candy bar with our pecan money. If I had any change left over, which was seldom, it went into my pocket for the next time.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great story and brings back many memories when I would also pick up pecans and take them to Farmers Trading Post for my hard earned cash.