CHICAGO, IL (May 8, 2015) — When I was growing up in rural Nebraska, one of the most common summer jobs for teenagers was detasseling. If you’ve never heard of this, you’re not alone; even the spellcheck on my word processor doesn’t recognize the word, but I assure you, it’s an actual thing.
It worked like this: Once the corn plant reaches a certain growth stage, someone walks down a row of corn and removes the tassel—the topmost part—from the plant. For someone short like me, that was sometimes a tricky reach—corn is really tall. Before we got there, however, a machine had already gone through and removed most of the tassels. The human labor part was just a failsafe, to catch the ones the machine missed. Some machines weren’t as effective as others.
Tassels weren’t removed from every row, however: The pattern was usually to detassel four rows and leave two. The point was to encourage cross-pollination between two varieties of corn that had been planted in the same field.
Of course, I didn’t know this until I looked it up on Wikipedia this morning. I had known about detasseling all my life, so it never occurred to me to ask why we did it. At fifteen years old, I was just happy about the paycheck, and it was probably the best-paying job available for teenagers in my small hometown.
So now we at the Companion would like to know…. What about you? What was your most unique, memorable, best, or worst summer job? We’re looking forward to some great stories with our next issue’s Big Q!
Answer in the comment section below, on the CovMagazine Facebook page, or email Cathy Norman Peterson at email@example.com. We’ll publish a selection of your responses in the July/August Companion, and more online. Please include your name, church, and town where you live.