Walking Beans


Do you remember your first job? I do. It was walking beans. Soybeans, that is, just in case I need to clarify that for you city folk out there. Dad would sharpen up the corn knives til they could split a hair, and we’d head out to the field as soon as it got light enough to tell the weeds from the beans. I remember how a mist would be rising from the field and the dew on the leaves glistened in the early morning sun. Before we’d made our first round, our jeans would be soaked from the knees down. Then when the sun climbed higher and the heat rose with it, our shirts would be just as wet, but with sweat, instead of dew. The fields we walked in were planted in hard “gumbo” dirt, and it would stick to your shoes til you had about 3 inch platform “heels” that you had to knock off with your corn knife at the end of the row. A lot of kids hated cutting weeds out of the beans, but I really didn’t mind, not when I was walking ‘em with my dad. He always made it fun, singing songs and telling jokes til he had us all laughing. Of course, he’d gently remind you the first couple times if you missed a weed, but if you got careless or lazy, you’d get a talking to. He’d tell us stories from when he was a kid, and although you could tell it had been hard, he would find something humorous in each tale that had us always begging to hear them once more. Before you knew it, the time had flown by and it was noon, quitting time! So, we’d all pile into the old pickup, some up front & more in the back, and head for home. Dad didn’t make us walk beans in the hot afternoons, said “those weeds will still be there in the morning”. Then we’d go show off our latest blisters from swinging the corn knife and be right back there the next day to make some more. Some of my fondest memories were in those bean fields with Dad. I learned a lot about taking pride in my work and enjoying it, no matter what the job was. Some of the kids who worked in the bean fields with my Dad and I those long ago summers still reminisce about those days, just as I do. Maybe what we need these days to put the work ethic back into the younger generation is to take away the cell phones and iPads, put a corn knife or a bale of hay in their hands, and put ‘em to work in the fields! I’ll close with the quote below about the work ethic of someone considered pretty successful:
“I’ve had a paying job since I was 14. It empowered me to become the first male in my family lineage to graduate high school and go to college. When I was still a teenager, I had 2 jobs for a while—my job at KXAR Radio in Hope, Arkansas, helped me learn how to communicate, think on my feet, keep up with world events, and develop much needed confidence and overcome my innate fear of crowds. My job at JC Penney taught me the hard work involved in unloading freight trucks, stocking merchandise and made me to this day get really ticked off when people put their hands on the glass of a door instead of using the handle, because I was the kid that had to run to the front of the store with the Windex. I’ve lost jobs I’ve wanted, including one that came with a pretty nice house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. I’ve often been paid less than what I thought I was worth, and sometimes I’ve been paid more than I deserved, but less than what I would have liked. I’ve had jobs that ended and I had no idea what I would do to pay my bills or feed my family, but I found something, even when it was not what I was educated to do or enjoyed doing. If I were unable to find a job—even a menial one far below my capacity — I’m not sure I could handle it. I would probably go door to door offering to sweep porches or rake leaves just to be doing something. I’ve worked so long I don’t know how to not work. And it’s one reason that I think the highest urgency of our government is creating the opportunities so people can work. A job is not just how we put bread on our table. It’s how we put life and hope in our soul.” – Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas & 2016 Republican Candidate for President
By Debbie Dovel


One thought on “Walking Beans

  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this. It’s nice to learn a bit more about your life and also Mr. Huckabee at the same time. I wish him well in the primaries.


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