Pea Patch Peer Pressure
By Dale Angel
I pick up the basket and sit it up on my shoulder and place my hand under the bottom. It topples off. Why am I standing in an auction barn trying to balance a pea hamper?
As a child of the Depression Generation, we did pick the crops, and peas were included. Were the rows really a quarter mile long?
Pea vines grew on elevated mounds so irrigation water could flow in the low places. Placing your knees into the soft dirt mound and pulling the crisp sweet smelling, squeaky vines over your lap, the mature peas fell uniformly. Holding the vines in one hand, you grabbed handful after handful and threw them in the bottom of the basket. In a few moves along the row, the basket filled up quickly. When it was full, you were ready to lift up the basket, sit it on your shoulder with your hand under the flat bottom to balance, and start for the scales.
Many children worked in the fields, and all eyes scanned who was going in full and who carried their load with precision and balance. It was a test against ourselves among the kids.
Pea patch peer pressure?
This stance didn’t allow you to bring up your arm over your head and adjust for balance. You walked swaying with and against your load. It was a personal triumph to make it all the way to get you basket weighed without adjusting. When you arrived, you then brought your arm over your head to help swing the full basket on to the scales. It must weigh thirty two pounds. Placed in your hand was a fifty cent piece and a dime and another hamper–either a short fat one, or a tall narrow-bottomed one that was wide at the top. Walking back to the line you had drawn in the dirt where you had left off, you set down the basket step across the rows and handed the coins to your mom, who dropped them in a sock with a tinkling sound as they found their place. It never occurred to us it was our money. Kneeling again, you scan who is going in balancing without adjusting, with eyes of approval, and begin to strip large sweet peas and continue your day dream…
The auction is about to start.
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