John and I both smoked for years--I for many more years than John. Our parents smoked. Both of our sons smoked at one time. When we were in college, we could even smoke during some lectures. We received a very nice ash tray as a wedding gift. All restaurants were smoke-filled. So it was very appropriate that we visit the Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Foley, NC, south of Wilson, where we were staying. Many small town museums are not well done, but this one was excellent and very informative.. We learned the whole process of how tobacco is grown today and in earlier times.
Today Wilson appears to be a run-down city with little employment. I think it was in the 1960s that 50% of all the tobacco grown in the US was grown within 50 miles of Wilson and the city was a major tobacco market location. Before the age of the automobile there was a wagon manufacturer in town that could turn out 15,000 wagons a year. Tobacco was the crop that kept the southern farmer going after the Civil War (called the War of Northern Aggression in one of the museum signs) because it was a crop that could be raised without slaves.
Not being farmers, we often drive by a farm field and don't know what is growing there. We think all farmers should be required to label their crops for passing city-dwellers. We didn't know whether or not there was any tobacco growing in the fields we saw in North Carolina. At the museum we learned that the fields full of large green leafed plants were tobacco fields.
At the museum, they had a few small tobacco plants. Here is one, up close.
This is a reconstructed tobacco drying shed.
And these are what are called "hands" of tobacco, the way the leaves are tied for handling.
The museum included this old one-room school house,
and exhibits of what life was like on small tobacco farms. Most of those exhibits were inside and difficult to photograph. I did get a picture of a examining table from a small-town doctor's office. I'm glad the equipment has been improved over the years.
On our way to the post office in Wilson, we passed two tire companies with statues like this on the roof. We think we saw a story about this fellow on Texas Country Reporter in the past few months.