Savannah Reams: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Bill Hutto is a Madison County native and grew up in Greenville, Fla. In his memoir titled "Country Living," he describes in detail times gone by, his old family farm place and the fond, and sometimes sad, memories of his boyhood. The following is an excerpt from the first volume of "Country Living," titled "Farm Work." Bill Hutto, born in 1938, is the eldest son of Alcus and Belle Hutto. His siblings include Marjorie, Norman, Darrow and Sammy Hutto—all familiar names in Madison County. Hutto currently resides in Milton, Fla., with his wife, Jane Fulford Hutto, who also hails from Greenville.
On April 11, 1949, Daddy passed away after suffering for several months with an incurable brain tumor. Mother was left with five children and a 150 acre farm to tend. I was the oldest child, at 11 years old, followed by three younger brothers and a sister. With Uncle Lamar's help, Mother was able to hire a sharecropper, Allen James, to help with the farm. James had a wife and eight children to care for, as well as his mother.
James was able to plow, plant and gather the crops that were planted. In return, he was paid when the cotton, tobacco and other crops were sold. He also had hunting rights on the farm and he was free to help himself to the vegetables in the garden.
At some point, we discovered that James could no longer plow the fields with the mules due to problems with asthma, so we bought a tractor. Uncle Lamar had a light mounted to the front of the tractor and when I got in from school, I would get a quick snack and then plow until about 9 p.m. The night plowing was necessary because the soil had to be readied for planting on both our farm and Uncle Lamar's farm.
One night, while I was plowing, I hit a stump. The harmonica, that I had been learning to play, flew from my hand into the plowed dirt. I tried for a long time to find it, but I never did. A few years later, I purchased a harmonica and later realized that I didn't have the musical ability to play any instrument.
After Daddy's death, we tried desperately to keep the farm running, but Mother's limited farming knowledge made it very difficult. I do remember that the small town of Greenville was aware of our situation and helped all they could. Many people would give us clothes and shoes and they would invite us to have Sunday lunch with them.
One memorable Saturday, our barn burned to the ground. The following Monday morning, horns were blowing outside of our house. Looking out, we discovered a large number of people in trucks that were loaded with lumber and tools. They had come to rebuild the barn. This was a heartwarming act of kindness and caring.
About three years after Daddy passed, Mother decided to put the farm up for sale. Sherrod Lumber Company, located in South Florida, bought the farm in a deal that included moving a former office building to our newly acquired four acres. The building was renovated so that we could use it as our home. Our Uncle, Johnny Lightsey, did the carpentry and he added two bedrooms and a bathroom. The bathroom was a real plus, since we did not want another outhouse and running water was a luxury after spending years drawing water from a well.
We moved into our new home in about 1952, right next door to Uncle Lamar and Aunt Ruby (Daddy's sister) and their children: Ernest Lamar and Mary Ann. Also, about 100 yards behind us, Uncle George and Aunt Minnie (Mother's sister) lived , with their children: George Jr., Virginia, Betty, Carolyn, Phillip and David. We all caught the bus at the same stop and we were the last to be picked up before arriving at school. Even though it was against the law to ride the bus if you were less than two miles from the school, our driver, Mr. Hamrick, said we could ride "if we behaved." Boy, did our large group pack that bus.