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Working in Tobacco Fields

Working in Tobacco Fields – NYTimes.com

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To the Editor:

Re “Children Don’t Belong in Tobacco Fields” (editorial, May 18):

I beg to differ. I worked in tobacco fields from almost the time I could walk. I planted, cultivated, harvested and cured tobacco and have not suffered any negative health effects. Was it difficult, demanding and strenuous work? Certainly. Were there times when I wished I was somewhere else? Never a doubt. But did my single father need my help so that he could feed our family, pay our bills and pay for my college tuition? Indeed. From such hard work, I came to know the closeness of family united in completing difficult tasks, the value of overcoming adversity and the appreciation of money earned — as opposed to given. I was also able to graduate from college with no debt.

If I hadn’t been out in the fields, how would I have spent my free time during my childhood? Playing video games? Using electronic devices? Maybe, but I doubt I would look back on such activities as fondly as I do my childhood spent in the tobacco fields.

JULIUS JOHNSTON IV
New York, May 19, 2014

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