In which Dave rambles on and on about the joys of sleeping on a cotton pillow and searching for raw cotton:
I can’t sleep on any other pillow except my own. I travel with it. In hotels, I throw the chain’s pillows on the other bed or the floor and I sleep on my own pillow. If I’m staying with friends or family and I’m offered a pillow, I say, “No Thanks, I brought my own. In my 40+ years, I have owned 4 pillows; numbers 2 through 4; they have all been cotton pillows. An aunt living in the Mississippi Delta made my first cotton pillow when I was about 5 years old.
To the uninitiated that may view my current pillow, they would see a lumpy, misshapen blob that looks anything but comfortable. They would be wrong.
The lumps are perfect. By moving and squeezing just right, you get perfect neck support that would rival any bead-filled or polyester fibers, or foam cervical support pillow. If you move the lumps together just right you can bury your face in comfy cold goodness; and if you roll to your side and place one hand under the pillow you can wistfully fall into a heavenly, cool on your cheek, slumber.
This perfect sleeping accessory in my possession is over 15 years old, and sadly the covering of the cotton pillow has seen it’s last days. For months, bits and pieces of the miracle ingredient has been leaking from the pillow and finding itself on my bed in the morning. The seams are beyond sewing and the ticking is thread bare. Believe me, I have tried stuffing the material back through the holes, and currently, I have doubled-pillowcased my prized possession.
Now, I knew way back in March, that I needed a new pillow. A new pillow required cotton. You are probably thinking about the kind of cotton in an aspirin bottle or the soft white cotton that you might use in a craft project. You’d be wrong.
A perfect cotton pillow requires raw, ginned (as in, cotton gin)cotton. But, back in March, the local cotton gins in and around Mobile County were silent. The first cotton plants of the year were yet to be planted. I visited a local cotton gin at the time to inquire as to the season’s end and harvest time, so that I could return when thousands and thousands of pounds of harvested cotton would be available.
In Mobile County, that would be in November and December. Back in North Mississippi, where I grew up; harvest time comes a few months earlier. So on Tuesday of this week I paid a visit to the Producer’s Gin Company in Theodore, Alabama and made my odd request to the manager. I would like to buy a bag of cotton.
Now, the reason this was an “odd” request is that cotton is sold in large bales by the ton–NOT by the sack. I was even questioned by the manager’s wife as to why I needed a sack of cotton. I told her my story. She laughed. I later found out that they had received a request some time ago by a gentleman in an RV to purchase merely 500 pounds of cotton. 500 Pounds? They were suspicious.
I asked why they would be suspicious? Is a mere 500 pounds of cotton somehow dangerous? Used in explosives? Drug making? No, actually, cotton is purchased in small quantities by individuals to make money. Not to sell to make money, but to make “money”, counterfeit money. Well, they decided that I was not a counterfeiter, I was just a goofy guy that needed a new pillow. Manager, Arland Starr, was happy to accommodate me and escorted me to the gin and collected one ample sized garbage sack with my fluffy addiction. Cost of enough cotton to make THREE cotton pillows? I’d say PRICELESS, but Starr and his wife said, “No Charge, happy to help you out.”
My thanks to Arland and Mrs. Starr. This weekend I will purchase new ticking and my wife has agreed to sew a new pillow for her husband. I couldn’t be happier. Trust me, by Sunday, I’ll be sleeping better than you.
If you live in a big city, never seen cotton and have no idea what a cotton gin looks like; take a look at the video about Producer’s Cotton Gin in Theodore, Alabama. This is a story about last year’s harvest and was aired by WKRG -TV in Mobile, Alabama.
UPDATE: The WKRG link to the actual article is no longer active. If you still want to see a cotton gin in action, I suggest this YouTube video