Quit Your Day Job: Sam Baker
Song whisperer once picked cotton
As told to Doug Freeman, Fri., Jan. 5, 2018
I've worked a lot of rough jobs, but the worst one was hoeing cotton up on the prairie between Waco and Fort Worth. When I was kid, a pickup would get us before dawn and you'd get to the field and just walk down the rows. The field is so big, and the weeds, they're relentless. It's like Sisyphus with an eye hoe and half-mile of row to walk down.
You start at sunrise, but that's the only time there's any beauty, because once that sun gets overhead, it's cooking. And you work until the sun starts to come down. It's some backbreaking work, and the heat just melts you. In the middle of the day, there's no shade, and the heat just moves in waves and starts to hit that silver mirage across the fields.
We did it as kids and we knew that once summer was over, we'd go back to school, but the adults that did it, that was their life. For the people that were born into it and never had a way out, it was a hard deal.
We knew nothing different and we were grateful to have work. I don't know if people hoe cotton anymore, but that field work is hard. Those fields are so big, and people are so small, but it will open your eyes to how sweet we got it sometimes.
Sam Baker’s lingering Land of Doubt is out now.