When I was a child, picking blackberries was something we did to provide extra income for our family. My mom was a single parent of nine children and each time on the way out the door we would hear our mom reminding us to "carry a pole, wear rubber boots and take a dog." "And don't eat more then you pick"! So down the long gravel driveway, six or seven of us kids would pull a few wagons filled with one gallon buckets to the fence row where the blackberry bushes grew wild.
We knew what mom meant to do with each item we took. The pole was to shake the blackberry bushes free of unwanted snakes. Blackberry bushes and grape arbors are favorite places where snakes like to hide.
The pole was great to bring the branch toward you, so you could reach the berries that were hard to reach. Of course, the boots were to protect yourself from snake bites. A dog was great to keep a snake from crawling out towards you if it came out from under the bush.
We knew of a neighbor man who was picking blackberries one summer day who got bit by a copperhead snake. Luckily, he was okay. I guess he didn't have a mom to remind him to take a pole!
We would bring home a wagon filled with gallons and gallons of berries. The next morning, mom would let the older children set a table up out in the front to sell the berries. In those days, we got seven dollars a gallon. It was a very hot job and the part I disliked the most was when thorns would cut your hands and attach to your clothes. There was no such thing as thorn-less berries. That would have been nice!
Did you ever pick berries as a child?
I would love to hear from you.