peeling tomatoes
Hand peeling tomatoes at Defender Packing Co. as it was still being done in 1974.
     The tomatoes were hand peeled by the women into 16 quart buckets, and after the buckets of tomatoes were dumped onto the filling table, a brass token with "1 BUC" on it was dropped into the bucket. The women collected the tokens all week, and could trade them up to the 25, 5O and 100 units, but could not cash them in until Saturday. My aunt Nellie Adams, who also taught math in school, was in charge of the tokens and counted them with the workers and gave them their cash for the tokens on Saturdays. In the 20's the women were being paid 3 cents per bucket, which had moved up to 20 cents per bucket by World War II days. During the early 40's another system of recording the number of buckets peeled was put in use, and these tokens were no longer used, but were stored in ,two big boxes in my grandparents attic.
      The hand peeling of tomatoes ended in 1977, after which all tomatoes were mechanically harvested in the fields and were peeled by a lye peeling process in the plant. This meant enormous changes in the handling of the tomatoes, and it translated in to being able to harvest and can our tomatoes with 35 to 40 workers when before we had needed up to 150 workers to do the same operation ion by hand. TIMES HAVE CHANGED! [Charles B. Adams, Jr. 12/25/99]
[Below] Bucket tokens used by Defender Packing Co.
bucket tokens