“Put the plant in this way …”

Frances Latimer, circa 1978

Frances Latimer, Cobb Station farm, circa 1958 (courtesy of the Latimer family)

[Daddy] hired a person when he could, but there were times when he couldn’t hire anybody and it was my mom and my oldest brother and daddy. There wasn’t much help.

Somebody didn’t come to work one day and Daddy wanted me to work on a transplanter, and I was playing the piano. I was grouchy and sullen. I was a teenager. So I went out. And he said, “okay, sit here. Put the plant in this way, and it’ll go in the ground.” I said, “okay.” I turned it that way.

So, all of the plants were – the leaves were down and the roots were up. And he turned around and he looked and every other plant, alternate plants, the roots were up, ’cause there was somebody else riding it with me, right?

He knew it was me. So he stopped, and he said, “Bea.” He said, “Turn it this way.” He never raised his voice. I’m serious. I never heard him yell. I never heard him say ugly things. So, I said, “okay.” I put them in roots up …

You could tell if you looked [at what you were doing]. I wasn’t looking. Did you want me to look? The roots were up, the leaves were down. And he got off the tractor that time and was serious and he had plants in his hands. He said, “I never beat you with a plant. I never beat you. But I’m going to today. Now you’re not stupid. You can do this. Put them in the right way.” “Yes, Daddy.” I put them in the right way.

Putting them in the right way meant that I knew what I was doing before. I hadn’t really planned to do it, but after I started it, it seemed like fun.

from an interview with Frances Latimer, summer 2009


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