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Vol. 16, No. 4: Winter 2010

“A recourse that could be depended upon”

Picking Blackberries and Getting By after the Civil War

by Bruce E. Baker

Picking Blackberries and Getting By after the Civil War

“Nineteenth-century newspaper accounts tell of snake attacks. Hornets, as my brother could tell you, can be a problem, and bears are not unheard of.”

One day last year, at the end of July, I walked down to Runnymede, alongside the River Thames, and picked a mess of blackberries. Since I had no one to please but myself, I made a cobbler and had just that for supper, at a cost of maybe fifty pence all told. Along with any number of childhood blackberrying expeditions with my grandparents in the mountains of Western North Carolina, picking blackberries always reminds me of summers in upstate South Carolina in the early 1980s when I was eleven or twelve. My brother and I would go through the woods and across the creek to Mr. Jamison’s pasture and pick several buckets of blackberries in the mornings, spend a couple hours cleaning the leaves and twigs out of them and pouring them up into our mother’s one-quart plastic containers, and then haul them around the mill hill in the afternoon to sell. I think we got about fifty cents a quart. Some people bought a pint to eat fresh, some bought a quart for a pie or cobbler, and some bought ten or fifteen quarts to can or make jam with. We rolled home for supper with the empty Tupperware containers and pockets full of cash.

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
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