A Hardy Farmer's Advice: Never Quit Johnny Bradley grew up in Georgia working another man's land. Now he owns his own farm and tells his daughter what he took away from that experience as a sharecropper's son.
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A Hardy Farmer's Advice: Never Quit

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A Hardy Farmer's Advice: Never Quit

A Hardy Farmer's Advice: Never Quit

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It is a Friday morning, which is when we hear from our project StoryCorps. People around the country are interviewing each other in this project that records conversations between friends and loved ones.

Seventy-two-year-old Johnny Bradley spoke with his daughter, Kathy, in Savannah, Georgia, which is not far from where he grew up.

Mr. Bradley came from a family of farmers, but they did not own their land. They were sharecroppers. They farm somebody else's property and in exchange kept a small portion of the crops that they grew. Here, Johnny Bradley remembers working with his family as a young boy.

Mr. JOHNNY BRADLEY (Farmer): When I was about five, I took about an eight or 10-pound bag and went to the cotton field and picked what we called black-seed cotton. Dad was a very good farmer. But we are working for what they would let us have, and that was not a lot. But that was part of the way it was back then, I guess.

And it was real hard at that time. We eat rice and peas one day and next day we'd eat peas and rice. But I recall the call we got electricity to our house. I believe it was in 1943 or '44. I remember we were privileged to get us a Philco radio, where we could hear the Grand Ole Opry. And we thought we had died and went to heaven.

On a Saturday night, all the neighbors gathered around and sat there until midnight listening to the radio. Thought that was the greatest thing since Pepsi-Cola come out.

Ms. KATHY BRADLEY: You left the farm when you were about 18. And about the time I was ready to go to college, you went back. Why did you make that decision?

Mr. BRADLEY: I had left the country but the country never got out of me. And I'll always like that kind of life, working in the land, watching the crops grow. It had become a part of me. Now, I work hard but I don't have to share it with the boss man.

Ms. BRADLEY: What do you think you learned from that experience that might be valuable to somebody today who is facing the economy the way it is now?

Mr. BRADLEY: Well, my dad had taught me if a man knocks you down and you can't get up, you bite him on the leg. You just don't quit. And that's the best advice that I can give to anyone. When I quit, I want them to put dirt on me.

INSKEEP: That's Johnny Bradley with his daughter Kathy at StoryCorps in Savannah, Georgia. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress along with all StoryCorps interviews. And you can get the podcast at npr.org.

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