Presently a resident in a health facility, my nearing 100 years old friend grew up the hard way.  She was a member of a sharecropper family of six including the mother and father.  They were ‘poor’ in things of this world but admitted to having many blessings  bestowed upon them so in a sense they were ‘rich’ in many less obvious ways for which they were thankful.  But life was nevertheless challenging.
Under their farming arrangement, the sharecropper essentially provided the labor and shared some of the negotiated costs for crop production and at ‘settling up time’ at the end of the growing season, payday finally arrived when the profits (if any) were divided minus the  ‘advance’ provided by the land owner.  It was an iffy way to make a living since there were so many variables such as the uncertainly of the market, crop disease and  fickle weather[O1]  which could spell disaster for a tiller of the soil ending a season with little if any profit for either party.  But living in the 1930s agrarian era, farming was about the only way to make a living for most people thus it was a risky way to put food on the table.
But the year 1936 was a good one and when the accounts were settled between and two parties, the payday was impressive.  Debts could be paid and money left for other discretionary spending.  Like a car. It is hard today to think of being without transportation but back then, for most, owning a car was a luxury especially a new one.  Transportation was either by walking or hitching up the mule to a wagon.  It helped if you lived near a country store where the essentials were available and possibly, for many, an available  ‘carry over’ (credit) privilege.
She was a teenager catching the bus for the ride to school.  But she was in for an unimaginable surprise when the bus stopped that afternoon near the family home.  It was early fall she recalled and when the bus pulled up she noticed that the family members were all standing in the front yard, in itself a surprise, but  lo and behold, they were standing beside a brand new, dark blue 1936 Plymouth sedan.  Could it be real?  The bumper crop had paid off! The car by the way, was reportedly purchased from Hyman Auto in Dillon in two annual payments perhaps, back then, less than a $1000 but still a princely sum.
After the excitement  eased, someone asked the question, “Who is going to drive the car?” since no one in the family could drive.  But the father had already given thought to this problem and answered that the youngest daughter who just arrived home from school was the chosen one.
Now she had never driven a car and especially a car whose gears had to be changed manually.  But she was not deterred.  She assured her family that before the month was out there would be a licensed driver to operate the new car.  And so it was but within only three weeks after being self taught on the back country roads, she was ready to visit the license examiner.
The first trip to town in the new car was to the A&P in Dillon.  Imagine the thrill and pride to drive to town in the family’s own NEW car.
This ‘can do’ attitude has served her well throughout her life as she has faced many problems which she has overcome.  Whether it is dealing with physical infirmities or standing in front of hundreds of people to sing a solo, by memory, a hymn she memorized as a youth more than eighty years ago.
The ‘can do’ attitude is still paying dividends.
Bill Lee, PO Box 128,
Hamer, SC 29547

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