This is a tobacco worm
This is a stringer-sewing machine
Now we have some basics established. Working on the "stringer" was not actually hard but very tiring. Hours standing in the sun, twisting from the mounded trailer of leaves to the sewing machine. There was a line of 3 or more of us in position between the trailer an conveyor belt. The machine would be turned on with a shake and rumble. The first couple of ladies would put a bottom layer of tobacco on the belt, then place a tobacco stick on top near the stems. The leaves would keep going to the next ladies that would pile leaves on top. You HAD to keep up. The belt could go at different speeds. Most work days it was on high to get as much done as quickly as possible. Then the layered stick would pass under a huge threaded needle that would sew it all together. There was a guy or girl at the end of the belt to hoist it to a guy in the barn to a hanger. That was the routine. A morning break... Work some more... Lunch break... Work some more. One of the worst things about it all was what we called "tobacco gum" that would cake on your hands. It was so sticky and black. It could quickly get to about a quarter inch all over the inside of your hands. You just had to roll it off and keep going. Nasty. Then those tobacco worms. HUGE and almost fluorescent green. Sticky, gooey, and fat. They were a common sight. Just flick them away or squish them. Boy could they squirt with a squish. Side note here... When I was very small like around 3-4 years old, I would sit at the barn near my grandma,whom I called mammy, and collect the bright green creatures. I'd draw big circles in the dirt and play make believe games trying to keep them in the circle. The day ended with the best baths ever. To feel clean after all the sweat, stink and getting all the "gum" off of your hands and arms was the best. Refreshed with the rest of a long summer evening ahead. Sometimes some of us barn hands would get back together just to hang out. Most of the time I enjoyed being home or at one of my grandparent's houses.
*Coming up next....I worked for a family that went to the the same small Baptist church that I did for most of my adolescent years. My special favorite work memories are when I worked for my Uncle Milton. That deserves a post of its own. Next....