Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Hop Training Job

Some of you seem to like these old stories so here is another one.

Hop Training
Have you ever trained a hop? Do you know what a hop is? It is something that is added to beer to enhance the flavor of it. It doesn’t work very well, if you ask me. I do not like beer, never did and never will. It needs more than hops to improve it. I had never heard of hops until I came to Yakima, WA. The year was 1947. My husband and I had recently tied the wedding knot and we did not have the proverbial pot or anything else. At this particular time, Bud was between jobs, and I had never had one in this area. We had a car payment coming due, and we were beside ourselves as to how it would be paid. It was $31.00, and may as well have been the national debt, as far as out ability to make the payment was. One Sunday we had gathered at his parent’s home for Sunday dinner, which seemed to be a tradition, at the time. The whole family was there. They always asked us to be there for Sunday dinner. This included the whole clan that lived here at that time. After dinner we would play cards or sit around and gab about everything. This particular Sunday, Irene( Bud’s sister) was reading the job ads in the newspaper, and announced that a Hop farmer looking for Hop trainers. I asked, "What is a hop"? Bud said, "Haven’t you ever seen a Hop field"? I reminded him that I was from Oklahoma and all I ever saw were cotton fields, corn fields, wheat fields, and oil fields. He explained that they grow hops in hills with a spacing of approximately 8 × 8 ft. Hops are grown on an overhead trellis. They plant 2 to 4 cuttings to a hill and when the young vines are about 2 ft long, two to six vigorously growing vines are selected for each hill and the rest are removed. One to three vines may be trained up each of two strings staked to the hill and extending up to the stringing wires of the trellis overhead. He said, " After the harvest, they just leave the poles up for the next years harvest". I said, "Oh, I have seen those poles without the vines, and I just thought it was a field of telephone poles". Irene said, "Well, how hard can that be, lets go out there and get a job". So it was decided that early the next morning, we would go to this place, and see if he would hire us. The work party included, Bud, Irene, Marge and myself. We arrived early with our ambition, sack lunches and a jug of water. We were hired on the spot. The job training only took about five minutes and we were free to go for it. The pay was $1.00 and hour. The job was supposed to last about three days. We began very enthusiastically. I said, "Hey, this is not a bad job, in fact it’s kind of fun". Marge and Irene joined in with equal eagerness. We were disappointed the job would only last three days. We had been working about 20 minutes when Irene said, "It would be nice if they would furnish little stools to sit on, so we wouldn’t have to get our knees dirty". Marge said, "And this having to get up to walk to the next pole is hard on my back, why couldn’t they put the poles closer together". I answered, "I know what you mean, it’s too far to crawl to the next pole, what time is it, anyway"? Bud said, " We’re not keeping up with the other workers and he might fire us, we better speed up a little". This went on all day, one complaint after another, and the day drew longer and longer. We hung in there and looked like pigs when we arrived home, but we couldn’t take a bath because we had already had our two baths for the week (remember the landlady in the former story) We had to go to Marge and Leonard’s to take a bath. We were up early the next morning and in the hop field again. It did not get easier with each passing day, I prayed for rain or snow or anything that would end the hop-training job. By now we are all so sore with our aching backs and legs that we spent most of our time sobbing about how bad we felt. Maybe the next day will be easier, but it wasn’t. By the third day we were a little happier because we knew the job was almost finished. At the end of that day a farmer from the next hop field came over and offered us a job in his field. It didn’t take long to turn that job down. He announced that he pays the men $1.00 an hour and the women .75 cents an hour. We would have pelted him with rocks, had there been any around. We had enough money to make our car payment. I don’t know what Irene and Marge did with all their money.
Most of the Hops around here were grown in Moxee, WA and I will include a link that tells more
about Hops.