Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Interview With: Rick Traylor (54)

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Interview With: Rick Traylor (54)

Article excerpt

Address: 821 Bedford Rd., Midway, KY 40347

On: 4/7/2015,1:45pm

I met with Rick Traylor in his mobile home. According to Zillow, it was built in 1991, and a couple of other people besides the three members of the Traylor family have lived in it since that time. I met Rick while on a drive with Richard. Richard stopped by a gate at which Rick was herding cows, moving them to a different location. I later came by to his home for the interview. He had chickens and some other livestock on a small farm of his own, and a field of crops behind his house. He takes care of the field behind his home, and other fields that belong to members of Richard's family as a tenant farmer.

Faktorovich: How did you first become exposed to agriculture? Did you start farming as a child? If so, under which circumstances?

Traylor: Yes, I was raised on a farm, and spent all my life on a farm. I farmed tobacco, cattle, corn, hay. I raised tobacco until I couldn't any more, until I got too old, and too broken up. I had to have both of my shoulders operated on for that. I just came out of that. All of it is hard work, putting it up... I worked in the field, hung tobacco in the barn some, housing tobacco. You go wherever you're needed, the field, the barn, that's where you go. Doing it every day. One year, we worked for almost thirty days straight in tobacco. The first three days is just hard, your muscles get so sore, but then you get used to it. One time, we had this big-muscle guy that worked out all the time. His waste was about 28 inches. At 3pm, he looked at me and said, "You guys are the toughest men in the world doing this. I can't do it." He'd press it like weight lifters. What we do is a step and pitch it, not just stand there and holding it up over your head. I was about ten years old when I started driving a tractor on my uncle's farm. I put up hay when I was about six years old. It would take two of us to get a bale of hay to where they can reach it up on a wagon. We worked all day doing that. Then we'd set tobacco; kids follow the setter, and replace planks in case one is missing. It was for money; there isn't any fun in housing tobacco. But, we always had fun because there were three of us: Tim, Ray (my brother) and I on the back wagon. We worked in two rows. The closest row to the wagon goes on the front of the wagon. Then you have to walk it. We were the only ones that could pick up on the back row because we could pitch it and worked hard.

Faktorovich: Was your family involved in farming? Did they start in this field or did they do something else before this?

Traylor: My father died when I was 5 years old. He cut tobacco, and he'd get so tanned in the summer time just cutting tobacco that he looked like he was black in the distance, until you get up close. See, my skin is kind of dark like that. I can't remember most of my childhood because I was shot in the head in February of 1988.1 was rabbit hunting and I came in and ejected all the shells and then put two in the cylinder, but not in the chamber. My brother started pumping it because he thought it wasn't loaded. When he got to me, he just cut off the top of my head. I was 27 years old at the time. I was in the hospital for ten days. I don't remember anything that happened in the hospital, or the night I got shot. I went into shock, holding my hands together, cradled like a bowl and in my mind, I was catching my brains, or the thoughts in my head. If it had been back another 6 inches, it would've killed me because it would have cut into my brain, and not just my brain line. After that, everything changed. The hospital, Cardinal Hills, they couldn't do anything. I had long-term memory loss. What was gonna come back, was gonna come back. Before I was shot, I tell everybody, I was a surgeon, and then I became a farmer after I got shot.

We lease this farm, the three of us. It belongs to Richard Jones and to his mother. I've lived here for just about 30 years, in the same place. …

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