Ruthie Mae Shelton grew up on her family’s farm in Marshall County. At the age of nine, she began helping tend their cotton crop. Shelton recalls how her uncle would plant the cotton seeds.
Picking cotton by hand is physically demanding. Shelton remembers how the cotton bolls would sometimes prick her fingers and how “stinging worms” would cause welts.
Through trial and error, Shelton learned not to pack too much cotton into her sack before emptying it. And by the time she was 18, Shelton could pick 200 lbs. per day.