This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tinkie and Tobacco

End of August and of all the things to think about such as Labor Day, back to school, baseball pennant races, start of NFL season etc., for some weird reason my thoughts always turn to cutting tobacco.  
You see, back when I was a young teenage broncin' buck, I used to get $3 a day from my very generous Uncle Tinkie to help him cut his tobacco.  And it was always around the last two weeks in August when, just as it is now, it was stultifying hot when he did so.  
Being out in a field cutting and handling tobacco this time of year was one thing.  However, being up in a barn hanging the stuff with Uncle Tinkie was quite another.  

Because I was tall and had long arms I always had the privilege of being the middle man in the barn reaching down to get the tobacco from someone passing it off the trailer and in turn passing it up to Tinkie hoovering above me up in the barn.  The black snakes roaming around the barn were nothing compared to having to work under Tinkie in the barn.  

As he received and hung the sticks of tobacco that I passed up to him, Tinkie snorted, sweated and farted his way throughout the entire process.  When he wanted to blow his nose, he didn't waste time using his red bandana hankie hanging half out of his back pocket.  Instead, he  opted to place his index finger on one nostril, push and hold it while he expunged the contents of his open nostril hopefully not in my direction.  

The tobacco dust and debris showering down on me I could handle; Tinkie's bodily contributions I could not.  Plus, he chewed tobacco so there was the occasional tobacco spit droppings from him to contend with also.  Let's just say that whenever I envision what hell is like, my time in the barn hanging tobacco with Tinkie comes to mind.   

Too, Tinkie was demanding as to just where I would have the next stick extended out to him when he was ready to receive it.  I would try and time it so that he was reaching down just as I was hoisting it up so I wouldn't have to hold and balance the stick any longer than I had to.  Occasionally, Tinkie would mess up my timing of the exchange by starting to reach down but then go back suddenly to readjust the previous stick or to scratch some part of his anatomy instead of reaching for the stick I was holding for him to take from me.

Once when he did this double clutch thing, I couldn't hold the stick any longer and allowed it to slide down and hit him in the leg.  It almost knocked him off his perch and it wasn't a pretty sight of him trying to regain his balance, sweat, spit and fart all at the same time while avoiding falling down on top of me.  What he said to me wasn't very pretty either.
Tinkie and Brady Being Escorted by The Goose
Very little if any tobacco is currently grown in South County.  All of the South County farmers who took the buyout many years ago have elected not to return to trying to raise it.  Smart guys.

However, in the northern parts of the County and particularly among the Amish, tobacco is still being grown (click here.)
  Today whenever I drive by and see folks out in a field cutting, spearing and loading their tobacco, I simply shake my head and say "Thank God I'm not out there doing that!"

Tobacco Road was a one hit wonder song for a British group known as the Nashville Teens in 1964.  But it was originally recorded by its author J.D. Loudermilk in 1960.

Here is a good article on the Government's tobacco buy out program to pay farmers over a 10 year period to not grow tobacco. In a ironic twist, the buy out was intended as a cushion for the farmers following the Government's decision to end subsidies, deregulate and allow tobacco to be sold as part of a world-wide, free trade arrangement. It's a little like the current $12B bailout for soy bean farmers only now in reverse - our Government imposition of tariffs has  hurt those farmers who would instead prefer a free trade playing field (click here.) Go figure.

No comments: