by Zora Neale Hurston
It was not long before I was up i (sic) the foreman’s face talking and asking to be talked-to. He was a sort of pencil-shaped brown-stained man in his forties and his name was John McFarlin. He got to telling and I got to listening until the first thing I knew I was spending the night at his house so I could “Ride the Wood” with him next morning and see for myself instead of asking him so many questions. So that left me free to ask about songs go (sic) the turpentine woods.
“No, Ma’am. they don’t make up many songs. The boys used to be pretty ad (sic) about making up songs but they don’t do that now.”
“Mo (sic), ”mam, its (sic) like I told you. Taint like saw-mills and such like that. Turpentine woods is kind of lonesome.”
Foreman McFarlin had me up before five o’ clock next morning. He had to wake up his camp and he always started out about 5:30 so that he had every man on the job by 6.
He had 5 chippers, 7 pullers and 5 dippers and a wood-chopper. All the men off to work, John McFarlin straddled his horse, got one for me and we began riding the wood. Talking about knowing his business!
He inspected a drift that was being dipped. The men who dip take the cup off the tree, scrape out the gum with the dipping iron and put it back in place and pass on to the next face. The dippers are paid $.85 a barrel for gum and 10 barrels a week is good dipping. Dan Walker is the champ. He can dip two barrels a day.
The wood-chopper cuts wood for the still. Wood is used to fire the furnace instead of coal because the company owns millions of cords of wood for burning in trees that have been worked out.
McFarlin explained that thee(sic) is no chipping and dipping from November to March. In November they stop working the trees, scrape the faces, how(sic) and rake around the trees as a caution against fire.
Visit to Aycock & Lindsey, Turpentine Camp, Cross City, Florida
ZORA HURSTON, August 1939
Zora Neale Hurston worked for the WPA, collecting folklife and folklore from Floridians throughout the state. She is pictured here collecting music from French and Brown.
Photograph was part of a 1985 traveling exhibit called "Pursuits and Pastimes". Reproducted from the collection of the Library of Congress. Forms part of series S1606, Florida Folklife Archive, Photographs and Slides of Folk Arts, Artisans, and Performers.