MORE GIN FOR OLD TIMERS!
By Norris Chambers
we grew older we found that gin
had other meanings. The word engine
was often shortened to just
plain gin. Of course there was the alcoholic gin and the cotton gin. We
knew a girl in school who was called Gin. Her real name may have been
knowledge of the various meanings of the word we discovered that the
were at one time part of a very important operation in the country,
Most of the early settlers
planted many acres of cotton.
Cotton was in demand both locally and for export and provided the
money crop for the farmers. Because it was essential that cotton be
(have the seeds and trash removed) and baled industrious entrepreneurs
gins within easy wagon driving distance of the cotton farmer.
grandmother told of raising cotton for making cloth for their own use.
that there were no gins in their area and during cotton picking season
member of her family was required to pick his shoe full of seed from
picked cotton after supper and before going to bed. The cotton was then
“carded” by hand. This process was performed with two flat
brushes using steel
bristles. The purpose was to get the fibers stretched into the same
position and to remove any small trash from the cotton.
The carded fibers were then fed
into a foot pedaled spinning
wheel and converted into cotton thread. The thread was used in a hand
loom to make cloth. All clothing was then made from the hand woven
In case you
have never given a freshly picked boll of cotton a close examination,
resembles a fuzzy ball about one and a half to two inches in diameter.
opened from a round boll and the contents have fluffed out into a
white ball of cotton.
many uses besides clothing. In the old days it was used for making lamp
stuffing mattresses and pillows, chair cushions, some harness padding
a nice bed for Sally, the family cat. The green bolls were often used
southern farm lads for field fights in much the same manner that
used by northern kids for snowball fights!
seed, saved for animal feed by the farmer, produced a rich flavorful
when properly churned and seasoned yielded a superior butter product.
crop also had a more sinister use. It was used in the manufacture of
and was sorely needed by all nations at war or in the preparation for
at least one funny gin tank episode. Clifton, his brother Clyde and I
finished a nice afternoon swim and were in the process of getting our
on when Clifton started jumping around like a cat with a grass burr
toes and uttering some foul language. He had placed his clothes neatly
large log and while we were examining the cool water a horde of wood
busy examining the inside of his clothing. When he started the dressing
they must have thought a three course meal had arrived and began
Clifton! Both Clyde and I thought it was funny –
I sometimes wondered about
Clifton’s sense of humor!