By Scott Rodd
Andrew sat a table in a bar with no sign outside drinking a Bud Light tallboy. The windows were boarded up from the outside and the only source of light was a bare light bulb sticking out from a fixture on the wall. Behind him, gray-haired men sat at the bar watching an old kung fu movie on a grainy television.
“I spent my whole life on the plantation around the corner,” Andrew* said, and took a drink from his tallboy. “My entire family worked on it—dad, brothers, uncles. Our family must’ve gone back three or four generations on Mr. Peaster’s farm.”
He remembered helping his father plant and harvest crops when he was a boy, steadily gaining more responsibility on the farm as he got older. After graduating from high school, he started working on the farm full time.
“Mr. Peaster liked having me around ’cause I was good with tractors and equipment. When something broke down, he was glad he had hands on the farm that could fix it instead of having to call a mechanic. Paid me a couple extra bucks whenever I fixed something, or let me take an advance on my paycheck if I wanted.”
For over 30 years, Andrew saw the farm as an idyllic, self-contained community. Much of his extended family lived on the plantation, and when Andrew was old enough to have a family of his own, Mr. Peaster worked with him to build a small house for his wife and children right beside the house in which he grew up. Mr. Peaster also ran a general store on the plantation, which carried all the groceries and supplies the families needed, so they hardly had any reason to leave the farm at all.
Read More The Depths Of Poverty In The Deep South | ThinkProgress.