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Thursday, November 1, 2012

First Time I Saw The Boll Weevil...

cotton field
 Cotton Field Near Enterprise Alabama

cotton boll
Dirtied Cotton Boll

There was a time that cotton was king in the South.  Beginning in the 1890s, the boll weevil started its migration from Mexico all across the southern cotton states.  The boll weevil had arrived in Alabama by 1910 and became an immediate menace to the state's cotton crop.  George Washington Carver of the Tuskegee Institute suggested that the state's farmers diversify their crops by planting soy beans, sweet potatoes, and peanuts.  One Alabama county took Carver's advice and by 1917, Coffee County's agriculture had recovered.  Coffee County produced the largest peanut harvest in the entire country that same year.  By 1919, a city council member in Enterprise Alabama proposed a monument to the weevil because, in the end, the weevils did serve a purpose. The struggle with the boll weevil served as an impetus for change and crop diversification.



monument to boll weevil
Dedicated 11 December 1919

In 1949, a four legged boll weevil was added atop the statue.  The anatomically incorrect boll weevil was replaced with a six legged weevil in 1953.  

Boll Weevil Atop Statue

The statue has been vandalized many times over the years and mocked by many who believe that it would have made more sense to honor the visionary scientific work of George Washington Carver instead of the insect pest.

The Boll Weevil is a traditional blues song which has many versions.


 As Performed by Leadbelly

As Performed by The Weavers

mural Enterprise AL
 Mural in Enterprise Alabama

(My husband was working in Alabama and drove through Enterprise so, I asked him to snap a few photos for a blog post.)

2 comments:

  1. That boll weevil sure was enterprising! And although that monument to it is a hoot, I hope you aren't thinking of opening a Boll Weevil shop. ;)

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    1. I think their monument could do a much better of job of explaining what they mean by "Herald of Prosperity". Most people won't know the back story and will end up rather confused. It's just too darned bad that they couldn't see fit to honor Carver!

      No worries about a weevil shop. Cicadas, dragonflies, and fireflies are enough. Can't wait 'til the firefly "flies" ;)

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