Living in Potato Country

Since the farms around Carey, Idaho grow potatoes, and harvesting took a lot of labor, school always closed for 2 weeks in the fall so the kids could pick potatoes. As mentioned on other blog posts I started school in Carey a month before my 6th birthday and I only went to school there one year so I was picking potatoes at the ripe old age of 6. I remember thinking how much money the older kids could make because they hooked a burlap bag to 2 hooks on the front of their belt and drug the sack between their legs as they walked straddling the row of potatoes which had been dug but were lying on the mound of dirt that had been dug up as the potatoes were sifted to the top during digging. They walked bent over as they quickly picked up the potatoes tossing them into the bag. They could pick a 100 pound bag quickly. They would leave it in the row to be sewn shut and put on a truck later. They earned 6 cents per bag, it seemed to me they could get rich and they worked eagerly. The kids that were not quite big enough to pull a sack by them selves would team up and pull one between them. This worked pretty well too but they had to share the 6 cents. Being 6 it was a little slower I had a wire basket which I put the potatoes in. When it was full, Mom or Dad helped me poor it into a sack. When I got a bag full visions of  the candy it would buy danced  in my head.

I remember hearing the farmer we were working for lamenting that the potato field had gotten too dry between waterings so instead of being nicely rounded potatoes they had nodules growing on them which would break off when handled and thus were not going to bring the best price. I remember a lot of potatoes from our garden with nodules, but we just broke off the nodules and peeled them separately. They didn’t keep as well in the root cellar though.
Speaking of root cellars I remember finding a box of chocolates stored in our root cellar. I believe they were what was left of the inventory from the gas station that Dad ran in Hazelton. They tasted pretty good but Mom and Dad were not pleased that we found them.

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