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William Randolph Deans was born on his family’s tobacco farm in Nash County in 1914, the eldest of three children. He describes his close relationship with his grandmother, Betty Arrington Deans, who lived with them when he was a boy and was a major influence on his life. Deans talks about his extended family – the Arringtons, Deanses, Whitleys – and their lives in the community. Deans started school at age six, walking about two miles to Red Oak School (which he describes as one of the first Farm Life Schools), and graduating from high school at age 16. He describes the agriculture teacher, Mr. K. H. McIntyre, as another significant influence. Deans says that his father initially cultivated and cured tobacco himself, but over the years managed to rent and buy enough additional farmland to have four sharecropper families help him. Deans (who helped the tenants in their work when he was a boy and teenager) describes in detail everything having to do with the cultivation and curing of tobacco, including how to plant and grow a tobacco crop; how to lay out and construct both pole and plank tobacco barns; how to harvest the crop; how to hang and cure and leaves; how to cut the wood for the furnace; and how labor and profits were divided between owner and tenants. He also talks about the early days of tobacco controls, under a voluntary co-op system that failed, but that paved the way for the government ASCS system, which he says has benefited everyone. He says that he decided not to become a farmer himself when he got to be an adult, but does not say what he did instead.

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