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"Turpentine Camp – Cross City"

Essay by Zora Neale Hurston

Page 3

Interview with Mary B. Billie, Seminole Doll Maker 3

Transcript

He had 5 chippers, 7 pullers and 5 dippers and a wood-chopper. All the men off to work, John McFarlin straddled his horse, got one for me and we began riding the wood. Talking about knowing his business! The foreman can ride a “drift” and with a glance tell if every “face” on every tree has been chipped.

First he rode a drift of virgin boxes. That is when a tree is first worked, it is a virgin box for three years. That is the finest rosin. The five men were chipping away. The chipper is the man who makes those little slanting cuts on pine trees so that the gum exudes, and drains down into the box. He has a very sharp cutting tool that heavily weighted in the handle and cunningly balanced so that he chips at a stroke. The company pays a cent a tree. We stopped and watched Lester Keller chip because he is hard to beat anywhere in the world. He often chips 700 or more trees a week.

A puller is a specialized chipper. He chips the trees when they have been worked too high for the chipper. He does this with a chipping axe with a long handle knows (sic) as a puller. The foreman explained that the tree are chipped three years and pulled three years then it is abandoned. Leroy Heath is the champ puller.

He inspected a drift that was being dipped. The men who dip take the cup off the tree, scrape out the gum with the