If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal.

We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.” Frederick Douglass 1818-1895

A slave born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, became one of the the most prominent figures in African American and United States history.

By Fred Lundgren

Charles Walters, the late founder and publisher of Acres USA magazine said of this book,
"The Nature Of Wealth was written after the authors discovered the difference between getting stumbled over and being kicked". Getting stumbled over with certain regularity without objecting, or at least asking questions, suggests a lack of realization that too often finds it's genesis in the naivety of poverty.

      As sharecroppers, we were stumbled over so often that I became suspicious of the stumbler's intent at a very young age, especially after learning of middle-class "city luxuries" like clean water, indoor toilets and air conditioners.

    As a pre-teen, I rode an odiferous school bus one hour each way to attend the classic two-room school where the first, second and third grades were taught in the "little" room by one teacher and the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades were taught in the "big room" by another teacher. 

      For reasons I didn't understand at the time, our school books were hand-me-downs from Austin schools.  We were fortunate compared to the rural African-American children.  Their "new" books were the twice worn out books we turned each time a "new" shipment came from Austin.


      Once a month, the Bookmobile would stop at our school to offer up the newest science fiction novels that exchanged my world for the futuristic world envisioned by the author.

      Mornings began with milking and getting kicked, stepped on and slapped in the face by the tail of the family milk cow. Milking was a contest between me and the cow. The cow insisted on putting her manure covered hoof in the bucket and forcing me to surrender her milk to the cats.  On good days, I escaped with my prize before she contaminated it with urination or defecation. 

       During each contest, I was surrounded by several generations of cats who cheered for the cow. To say the least, the chore was "udderly" frustrating but necessary if we were to have milk to drink.  Milking is a chore you can't delay because the cow and her calf will remind you if you are late to the task.  Did I mentioned the flies?

     Summer days were spent in the hot sun, either weeding cotton, hauling hay, harvesting itchy grain on open platform combines or dragging a cotton sack. I learned early in life that pulling cotton is a poor way of serving the lord.  

      My grandfather was proud of his cotton picking ability and bragged that he could pick 300 lbs of seed cotton in a day.  He was recognized for his prowess by Dave Shanks, the farm editor of the Austin American Newspaper. I heard the story many times, but I never tried to challenge his record.

        Cotton sacks were sized to match each person in  the field.  The largest sack was pulled by strong adult males.  A smaller sack was dragged by adult females and teenagers and the smallest was made for very young children.

    I was drafted into cotton pulling service at age seven under the supervision of Senester King, my father's long suffering and trusted employee.  Each summer, the King family would pull cotton for $1.00 per hundred pounds. My dad could only pay Mr. King $5.00 a day for general farm work but during cotton season, the King family could harvest a bale of seed cotton each day which paid about $15.00. Mr. King never showed resentment although he was "kicked" every day of his life by the same economic forces that kept my dad in servitude to the landlords and bankers.    

    The first cotton field of my short-lived career was 400 feet wide and 1/3 mile long.  To my eyes, it looked like the rows extended past the horizon.  I remember my father dropping me off on the edge of the field that morning with a gallon of water and a lunch box.  He gave Mr. King one instruction,  "Teach the boy how to work". 

My seventh year was 1955, and mechanical cotton harvesters were already in use.  Back then, it was customary to hand harvest the ends and corners of the fields because machine harvesters drove over and wasted too much cotton as they turned. Hand harvesting was also reserved for small fields where constant turning made machines harvesting wasteful.

      After pulling my row of cotton for an hour, my hands began to bleed because the cotton burrs pierced my gloves.  Sweat soon obscured my vision.  I was expected to pull as much cotton as Mr. King's youngest child or I risk dad's belt across my rear. Mr. King was aware of this so when I lagged, he pulled cotton on my row and put it in my sack. 

    As noon approached on that first day, the King family was far ahead of me. My row of cotton taunted me above the black soil as if the land itself was giving me the international sign of contempt.  I finally laid down on my cotton sack a gave up.

      Mr. King sent his family to the shade of the wagon and came to my rescue.  He knew I was over-heated.  I remember feeling strangely cool in the hot sun. When he reached me he asked, "you want a ride Little Freddy?" After nodding the affirmative, I straddled his full sack of cotton and he dragged me and both sacks to the end of the field.  I drank some water and cooled off.  In a few minutes, dad drove up and took me home. Everyone who works in the sun knows that it takes time get acclimated. Thus, every day in the sun is a bit easier than the previous day. 

      I pulled cotton for two weeks during my seventh summer and I grew to hate it with a passion that even today, defies description.  I vowed I would never pull cotton again, regardless of the consequences. So, the next summer, when my dad told me it was time to join the King family, I refused which prompted him to get out his belt but no amount of punishment would break my will. From my perspective, pulling burr cotton was a fate worse than death.  

    My punishment that day was interrupted by Mom's devine intercession.  Dad relented with these words, "If you think you're too good to pull cotton, your going to learn to drive a tractor." Driving a 1936 Model B Popping Johnny was like a day on the beach compared to pulling cotton. My well-founded fear of machinery soon gave way to the tedium of repetition and I became a proficient tractor hand by the age of 10.    Today, those parenting techniques would be considered abusive.  At that time, it was just the way things were on the farm.
       There were two farm "tools" that above all others convinced me that I was getting kicked.  One was the "eye hoe" and the other was a cotton sack. However, knowing you are being kicked is useless information unless you know who is kicking you and how to stop them.

         For that knowledge I turned to my Grandfather, Fred Lundgren, Sr.              
more later

Narrative by Fred Lundgren
Charts & graphs by Jerome Friemel
Updated December 25, 2014
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