Monday, June 12, 2017

Emilio and the Potatoes

I  have, maybe, a hundred stories about the founding, history, and people of LIVING HOPE CHURCH of Huntsville, Alabama (formally know as FIRST ALLIANCE CHURCH of Huntsville), but one of my favorites is the story of: 

Emilio and the Potatoes 

Emilio Uvalle did the block and brick work on our church in 1965.  Emilio, his son, and a nephew would arrive on the scene soon after dawn and immediately get to work; mixing motor and moving blocks and brick into place. When the first batch of mud was ready, Emilio began laying wall while son and nephew kept him supplied such that he never had to reach more that a couple of feet for either mud or brick. 

Through the long summer days, they took few breaks, mainly for water and to relieve themselves. After 6 hours, they would take a 2-hour break for lunch and siesta and then back to 4 to 6 more hours of building walls.  I never saw such a work process again until 1988, on vacation in Mexico where I watched the building of an addition to the hotel where we stayed.

We were pleased with the work and how it was progressing well ahead of schedule.  So, you can imagine our surprise when Emilio told us and the contractor that they were taking off for two weeks for him and his entire family to go to Sand Mountain and help with the potato harvest.  We knew the pay for field work was much lower that the wages of bricklayers and were quite puzzled as-to-why he would make such a move.  

On Sunday, two weeks after they had “walked off of the job,” they showed up at our temporary meeting place with the backs of their 2 pickup trucks loaded to overflowing with “crippled” sweet potatoes and asking members of our congregation to take as many as they wanted.  It seems that the harvest leaves potatoes, that are not commercially viable, laying in the fields to be plowed under. The workers are allowed to take all they want.  Emilio told us that they took home enough to provide a substantial part of his family’s diet for the next year.  They were ready to get back to work.  The work was finished on schedule.  We all enjoyed free sweet potatoes for a while.

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