When they’re ripe, they’re ripe. And when they need picking today, they gotta be picked today. You don’t wait ’til tomorrow.
… This was 99 percent local people. I’d say most strawberry bowers were the farmers’ wives, maybe the wife’s friend, that packed these strawberries. … when you said you were going to pick strawberries tomorrow, everybody would say, “we’ll be there.” And they would be there. ’cause it was just something that everybody seemed to like to do. It wasn’t something that a lady couldn’t do as far as weight, lifting or anything like that. Men, naturally, it didn’t bother them any. So, it was a family-type thing. If you had a family of colored people that worked with you and, of course, picked strawberries and other things, all you had to do was just give them the message the night before that you were gonna be picking the next day, they’d be right there, ready to go.
They were allowed to carry a few home, not many you know – don’t be a pig, so to speak – but if you want a few to carry home, most farmers would say, “no problem, no problem.” Most farmers were that way.
Charlie Wilkins … he farmed down in Jamesville and if you went to him and asked him, “Charlie, get some strawberries out of your field? Or peas?” Or any crop, as far as that goes. Charlie would say, “yeah,” but he’d say, “they’re not ready yet.” He’d say, “come around next Monday or Tuesday and help yourself.” But he’d say, “I’m not gonna pick ’em for you.” As far as he was concerned, if you wanted some, you were certainly invited to them. He never would say no to anybody, but he would tell you quick, “I’m not gonna pick ’em for you.”
from an interview with Winter C. Cullen, III, fall 2009.