For several summers back in my Midwest days I was a field hand for seed corn companies. Several summers my job was to supervise high school kids for the job of detasseling. Detasseling does not require a lot of skill, but the work was hard, requiring a certain amount of character. I posted some details on my personal blog, Mushrooms to Motorcycles. I think you’ll find the post interesting, and nostalgic if you ever detasseled corn. Anyway, at the end of the summer one year I hosted a BBQ at my house for the crew of kids I supervised for Oetting’s Detasseling Company. As a congratulatory gift, I wrote and printed a poem for them.
Yesterday, while cleaning out some old files, I ran into the poem, which I present here for your enjoyment. It fits the tune of the old hymn The Water is Wide, and if you’re a former detasseler, you have permission to print the poem and hang it on your wall.
or It Ain’t so Bad when the Paycheck Comes
(with apologies to Larry Oetting, a man truly outstanding in his field.)
The row is long, the field is wide,
The corn will scratch my tender hide.
The dew is wet, my feet are sore—
Don’t make me walk this corn no more.
The corn is strong and very tall,
And I am weak and very small.
I am so cold and wet clear through,
What did I get myself into?
You spend your life life all day at play,
And sleep in late ‘most every day.
You live a life of ease, ’tis true,
But I can stand and spit on you!
I certainly invite my readers to share their experiences in the cornfields.