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Presque Isle: The Star City

Potato Harvest Memories

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Text by Isaac, a Presque Isle Middle School student
Images from the Presque Isle Historical Society by a private patron

Two row potato digger, ca. 1935
Two row potato digger, ca. 1935Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum

Edwena, my grandmother, told me about working in the Central Aroostook County potato fields. Edwena has lived in The County all her life. She started work in the potato fields when she was about seven or eight years old. At that age she would pick about a barrel of potatoes a day, but as she got older she picked more. One day, at lunchtime, she and her bothers decided to roll down a hill in barrels. They did that because they had nothing else to do when they had eaten lunch. The next day they were sicker than dogs!

Edwena’s family worked for several different farmers throughout the years. The bigger the potato field, the longer it would take to pick the potatoes. The pickers would make about 25 to 30 cents for a barrel. Her family would use the money to buy clothes for school. If she was lucky, she might get a nickel to buy her favorite candy bar, a Milky Way.
For lunch she would bring a sandwich, such as a peanut butter, tuna, or egg salad. She also would bring chips, soda, a candy bar, and fruit. Edwena would bring her food in little plastic bags to the potato field that she was working in.