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Hartselle Enquirer

Twice-bought tobacco

By Jacob Hatcher

Community Columnist

In my ancestors’ south, it was said that cotton was king; so long as the rich soil was producing that little white ball, the gates of hell could not prevail against ole Dixie. Or so it was said. If it were true that cotton was king, then on a little farm tucked behind some railroad tracks in Middle Tennessee tobacco was the heir apparent, and like so many heirs to the throne, tobacco often creates as many problems as it solves. Before everyone knew how bad tobacco was for them, or at least before they were willing to admit it, everyone consumed some sort of tobacco, including my sharecropper Grandpa Hatcher. With a pouch of Eagle Twist tobacco in his pocket. Sometimes I wonder how many pounds of tobacco he had to grow to be able to afford a luxury like a pouch of Eagle Twist tobacco, but for such questions there are no answers.

I haven’t been able to find how much a pouch of Eagle Twist tobacco sold for in the 1950’s, but I know it cost him more than can be measured. It cost him his youth and the strength in his back, as well as time with his family and the cartilage in his joints. He poured gallons of sweat into that soil and spent hour after hour praying there would be a good harvest in the fall. It would be easy to look back and ask what good did it do, all that work to scratch out a meager existence. As much as it cost him though, he did buy more than a few ounces of tobacco with all that work. Eventually he bought the farm for himself and clothes for his family. He used all of that tobacco to procure for his sons a work ethic that would provide a better life than he could have ever dreamed of and generations of descendants that thrive because of his sacrifice. And that’s worth all the money in the world.

 

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