Plantation Stories

Jim Jack, the cot driver


Occasionally in the numbers of men one person will stand out representing a trait or character. Such was Jim Jack. He stood out among men and can be described as hard working, dependable, honest and above all, loved children, just a good person. As long as I can remember he had the same old dark colored hat that told a story of days in the elements; of many seasons come and gone. A small thin man about 5' 8'' with a black patch over one eye, white beard against black skin and long white hair beneath his hat made him distinguishable from a distance. He was the cart driver; he and his mule Sara and his cart ("cot" as he called it) were as one; they were always together. The cart was made of old unpainted oak with two large wheels and a dump body pulled by one or two mule, whereas a wagon had four wheels, a bigger body, and was pulled by two or four mules.
A cart driver

Uncle Ashley Clinton
The cart was used much like the modern day pick-up truck: hauling things here and there throughout the plantation. Sara was a mule with personality, her ears expressing her feelings: back against her head meant unhappy with what we were doing, straight up signaled something of intense interest, and flopping limply to the side showed bored with the chore at hand. She was an old mule, it seemed that looking at her and Jim Jack one could see countless stories of years of life on the plantation. Uncle Ashley Clinton was also a cart driver for the plantation. He drove a heaver cart that was drawn by two mules. Uncle Ashley was one of my grandfather's most trusted hands and kept all the other workers in line.
It was a time before frivolous lawsuits, when children could accompany men at work and participate in the chores on the plantation. Whenever he went to work the cart was full of children. We would accompany him on his task; he was so easy going that he enjoyed putting up with children. The cart held about a yard of dirt and had to be filled with a shovel by hand. All of the children helped loading the cart. That was the thrill for the day: riding the cart through the fields. Such simple pleasures we had yet they meant so much and had such lasting memories.
A mule
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