American Historical Trivia: Across the Border, Food, Unexpected Fame and Gratitude in Alabama

One day, a starving group from Mexico decided it was time. Time to pack up, scurry across the border and see if the rumors that an unlimited food source actually existed.

“Let’s cross the Rio Grande, near Brownsville, Texas,” said Uncle Peatroo.

The desperate entourage bravely agreed as they jumped into the cold water.  Feet, legs and bodies flailed wildly pushing through the strong river current. The stronger swimmers crawled first onto shore and reached out to the weaker and smaller members of the group.

Everyone made it! Now began the arduous journey to find their next meal.

“Come on, you can do it,” shouted one of the leaders, hoping his encouraging words would help motivate the stragglers shuffling very slowly up the path.

After walking three days with very little to eat or drink, a young mother carrying her infant son on her back, suddenly began to shriek pointing off to the left side of the dirt road.

“Look, there! The rumors are true,” she said, as the rest of her children gathered around her.

This was no ordinary, starving group from Mexico.

NO! These were the boll weevil pests coming to look for food and they were hungry!

“Children,” the mother boll weevil carefully explained, “these are cotton plants with silky fibers inside called bolls and are very good eatin’! So, go on, dig in!”

And eat they did and before long, the tiny six millimeter boll weevil insects, ate and multiplied its way across the southern United States during the late 1800’s.

By the 1920’s, the boll weevil infestation brought the United States cotton industry to its knees.

As cotton farmers watched their crops dwindle, two Alabama business executives brainstormed ways to find a solution to eradicate the boll weevil problem. They decided to import North Carolina peanut seeds; however, getting the farmers to see peanuts as their future cash crop, a major obstacle.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed-door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

It took one smart Alabama farmer to “look away from the closed-door” and plant a whole acre of peanuts. His sales skyrocketed that year. Had the boll weevils not cause such an agricultural turmoil, Alabama’s cotton farmers may have missed the opportunity to see the profitable peanut farming industry.

In appreciation to the little pesky bug for being a catalyst for change, a monument, monitored by a security camera due to repeated vandal attacks, honors the miniscule, yet powerful crop-damaging bug, the boll weevil. The resin statue replica holds up a boll weevil in the central business district of Enterprise, Alabama. Visitors can find the real statue in a museum nearby.

The Boll Weevil Monument

– Boll Weevil Monument photo credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

We’ve come to the end of the virtual Boll Weevil Monument tour, hope you enjoyed my mini-version on American historical trivia.

Let the tiny boll weevil problem remind us to be ever grateful for good opportunities that come with difficult changes.

Thank YOU and happy writing! 🙂

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