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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The adverse effects of burly tobacco

Scott describes working with burly tobacco, a stronger variety of the leaf that made her ill when she handled it. To ward off its aroma, she kept an orange peel in her mouth, but this small bulwark was not enough to control the adverse effects of strong tobacco, often coupled with the chicken feathers and droppings that arrived with it.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned that working up there sort of affected you health-wise. Could you go into that a little more?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
It was a different type of tobacco that they worked in; the tobacco was called burly tobacco. It was very strong. If you had eat anything when you go there in the morning, it would get on down inside of you and make you so sick. That's one grade of tobacco I never did get used to all them twenty-four years that I worked there, I never did get used to it. When it would get on me, I had to turn my nose up. I'd take an orange peeling and hold it in my mouth, and that would keep me from getting sick. I never could stand that burly tobacco. It was very strong, and they'd be chicken feathers all through it. I guess it come from Kentucky, I suppose, chicken might of roost in it or something. But it would be chicken feathers in it and sometimes chicken manure's in it. We just had to work through it. I'd take the bundles and feel them. Back then I was working on a machine, and we'd lay them bundles down in a row. The belt run along by that big old blade that turn, and it just cut the heads off and it keep on going and fall down in the next room.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many times did you have to work with that type of tobacco?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Sometimes we'd work on it two or three days. Then they'd change over and we'd get on this ripe tobacco, wouldn't make you sick like that other. It's regular tobacco.