Oct. 9 Issue
“Green Economy” By Alexandra Hall

When I was in ninth grade, I spent a summer working on a tobacco farm in Granby, Conn.

The company recruited poor children from West Virginia, housed us in rustic dormitories and paid us minimum wage. Boys and adult migrant workers from Mexico worked in the fields, and girls stood at machines all day and sewed the tobacco leaves onto lathes. I earned, I think, 40 cents extra for each lathe over the required quota, but the quota was so high that few of us earned more than minimum wage.

That was more than 40 years ago, and I sometimes wonder whether that work, along with my father’s secondhand smoke, contributed to the breast cancer
I developed 13 years ago, which showed no genetic link.

I have lived in Maryland for 30 years now, and don’t know whether tobacco companies still recruit poor children in Appalachia.

I do know that poor children in West Virginia suffer from many of the same living conditions described in this article, but they are largely forgotten by the media.

Estelene Boratenski, Glenwood, Md.

I grew up on a tobacco farm, worked at every level, including suckering tobacco plants, chopping weeds, looping green tobacco, putting it in the tobacco barn, standing on tier poles to hang the tobacco, taking it off after curing to be graded before bundling ready for sale.

I never heard of anyone being harmed health-wise from the entire process.

B. Ellen Smith, Iola, Kan.

“A friend has a bad rep” By Karla L. Miller

I’m a creative type that suffered this kind of made-up reputation stuff years ago.

Speaking as an architect/artist: The “grumpiness” you refer to is that feeling one gets after being continually marginalized by over-automation. Some of us just can’t censor our emotions sometimes.

Some countries — Canada, parts of Europe, Scandinavia, etc. — haven’t been so hoodwinked by over-automation and the endless carnivorous quest for money and “efficiency.”

This is a lot more serious problem, and no one talks about it. Da Vinci must be rolling in his grave.

Monty Cawker, Missoula, Mont.