This book was inspired in part by the hardworking unknown people of the sugarcane fields of western Palm Beach County in 1928.
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By Richard Cleveland
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Richard Cleveland
All rights reserved.
Sugarcane field, Belle Glade, Florida, in the present ...
Danny was pretty happy to be riding on the tractor with his dad, driving through rows and rows of the tall sugarcane. They both loved the sweet smell of the sugarcane, and they were amazed at how tall the cane grew in the dark muck of Belle Glade.
Suddenly, the tractor sputtered to a stop, and the engine just cut off. Danny's dad climbed down out of the cab of the tractor to see what could be the problem, telling Danny to stay in the cab. Some time passed, and Danny's daddy was still trying to get the tractor running again; Danny's attention turned to the sugarcane smell, and he thought about how nice it would be to take some of the sugarcane home to his mother.
Danny stepped out of the cab and quickly started climbing down off the tractor with the hope of getting a sugarcane stalk and getting back in the cab before his dad noticed he was ever gone.
As young boys do, Danny slipped while climbing down and hit his face against the tractor as he was falling. He crumpled to the ground, bleeding from his nose and crying. His father was startled to hear his son crying and ran to help him. He laid Danny down on the ground in the shade of the sugarcane; Danny's dad placed his handkerchief over his nose to help stop the bleeding, but there was too much blood coming out of Danny's nose. Blood had started to make small pools on the ground and was seeping into dark muck of the sugarcane field. Danny's dad took out his cell phone and dialed 911; he told Danny to hold his hand and that help was on the way.
Within minutes EMS arrived and took Danny and his father to the hospital. The tractor was left in the sugarcane field under the warm Belle Glade sun.
Danny's blood seeped farther into the dark muck, going down deep, until it touched the bones of Jericho Cain. Night fell. When midnight came, the ground shook, and the bones of Jericho Cain moved slowly up to the surface. Here stood the spirit of the mucky field and sugarcane.
Risen Cain took the blood of the innocent, the pure of this world, but Cane had risen to destroy the bloodline of Damascus Jones.
Standing tall, Cain was now a giant green stalk of sugarcane leaves. He look around, he could see the lights of the city. Looking down he thought, I am me, but now I am transform into sugarcane. God of the Emerald Tablet, thank you for allowing me to return with the powers that you have granted me. I will avenge the deaths of my Sara, Rachel, and Karen. Then use me as you will in this world.
Cane looked up and saw the stars. "I miss them; I could not see them shining from so far below. Now I am here, and Damascus Jones and his family better fear the coming of Cane."
Turning, Cane began making his way slowly to the road that led to the city. He came to a sign near the road that read, "Welcome to Belle Glade — Her Soil Is Her Fortune." Standing there, Cane began to groan and said, "Belle Glade." Staring at the sign, he thought about his family, longing to see them again, but he already knew that could never happen again.
Cane longing for his daughters said, "Karen and Rachel, I miss your smiles and laugher" How many fish are you catching west of the river? Sara, I looked for you and our girls; I called out to you. Please forgive me for not saving you and the girls. For that night, dear Sara, Damascus Jones and his children will feel pain, before their lives end in this world.CHAPTER 2
Belle Glade "New Start"
Spring 1928 ...
A large, old canvas-covered truck rolled its way southward on Conner Highway to the new farm town of Belle Glade, Florida.
On the back of the truck, Cain's two little girls were playing patty-cake, and their mother, Sara, was smiling just to see her daughters playing happily. Jericho was suddenly awakened when the truck rolled over a bump in the road. Jericho said, "Is everyone okay?"
Sara, Jericho wife, replied, "The girls and I are fine; it was just a bump in the road, Jericho."
At the last stop the driver said, "We should arrive in Belle Glade a little before dinner time."
Sara looked again at Jericho with a worried look on her face. He once more assured her the Jones Farm would have plenty of paying work and that he had been told Damascus Jones is and fair man.
Sara leaned over and whispered in Jericho's ear, "I worry so much. We left our families and friends in Louisiana; we do not know a soul in Belle Glade. What will become of the Cain family?"
Sara had been born Sara Dubois; both her parents were schoolteachers. She grew to be a tall, slender, tanned, dark-haired, and beautiful brown-eyed woman. After finishing high school, she attended and finished teacher's college and became a schoolteacher herself. After completing her first year as a first-grade teacher at Houma Elementary School, Sara took a summer job at the nearby Orleans Sugar Mill, and that was where she met the very tall and handsome Jericho Cain. They courted through the next spring, became engaged, and shortly after, they married. Not long after that, Rachel was born, and then came Karen.
After having two babies, Sara could no longer work full time as a teacher, so she became a homemaker to raise the girls; after that, Jericho started his new job as foreman at Orleans Sugar Mill. Everything was going well for the Cain family in Houma — but soon business started slowing down at Orleans Sugar Mill in 1927. In January 1928, Jericho was let go from Orleans Sugar Mill.
Jericho turned to Sara and Said, "The Jones Farm in Belle Glade will give you, the girls, and me a new start." Work back home had dried up. The '20s had been good, but now everything was starting to slow down across the country. The government built this new dike around Lake Okeechobee, so the soil is rich, and one day soon we will have the Cain Farm. The lake is twice as big as Lake Pontchartrain. If meat gets scarce, you know I know how to trap a gator, and you'll get to grill some gator tail.
Smiling back at Jericho, Sara said, "Yes I can darling."
The truck slowly came to a stop at the place that the locals call the Ramp. The Cain family had arrived in their new home of Belle Glade, just south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, a few miles inland from the Atlantic.
As Jericho and his family were getting off the back of the truck, a rather tall and big man stepped forward, reaching out to shake Jericho's hand; Jericho took and shook the man's hand.
"Hello, my name is Ben, Big Ben some call me," said Ben. Ben said, I am from the Jones Farm. Mr. Jones sent me to meet you and show you around and where you will be living and working.
Jericho introduced his family. "This is my wife, Sara and my daughters, Rachel, who is seven, and Karen, who is six," said Jericho.
Ben said, "first order of business, let me help you get your family bags down off the truck and put your bags on the wagon over there." Big Ben pointed to a horse-drawn wagon a few feet away. Jericho and Big Jim started unloading their bags and a small table and four plain-looking chairs. Oh, you have furniture, said Ben with a smile.
Sara said, "those are the tables and chairs Jericho made for me after our second baby girl was born. They are made of cypress, and I love them very much."
Smiling, Ben said, "their is plenty of cypress around here if you need to make more chairs in the future." All of the family's bags and furniture were loaded onto the wagon. Sara and the girls sat in the back of the wagon, and Jericho got up on the front seat with Ben.
Ben took the reins, and the horse draw wagon pulled away from the Ramp and headed east on a dusty, unpaved road. Jericho saw a very large canal and said, "where does that canal go?"
"It was dug to come from Lake Okeechobee; it heads east toward West Palm Beach," said Ben. "That canal reminds me of where we are from." "Where is that?" said Ben. "Bayou Cane near Houma, Louisiana?" said Jericho.
"I am from Thomas County in South Georgia," said Ben. I came here looking for work when I heard they were building that Hoover Dike, that was about five years ago, said Ben. First I worked and lived a while in South Bay and when the Dike was done, and I needed another job. That was when Damascus Jones hired me at Jones Farm. Jones Farm's two biggest crops are corn and sugarcane. The wagon continued to make its way down this dusty road, and then appeared a sign reading, Jones Farm and Harvesting. Ben made the turn off the main road onto the farm road. He told Jericho, I am going to take you to your living quarters first and unload your belongings, and then I will take you to see Mr. Jones.
They arrived at a nicely painted white cabin; it even had a front porch. Jericho climb down off of the wagon walked over to the cabin and opened the front door; he took a quick look around inside, then came back out and Jericho said, "This is fine." He helped Sara and his daughters down from the wagon, and he and Ben began unloading their bags and furniture into the cabin. Once all of that was done, Jericho and Ben rested a few minutes before setting off for Jericho to meet his new employer.
After resting, Ben and Jericho climbed back on the wagon and once again Ben picked up the reigns of the wagon and slowly headed towards the big main house were Damascus Jones and his family lived. Soon, they arrived at a large main house. Jericho was in awe of how big the main house was and the fact it was made of block and built on a mound much higher than ground level. Ben and Jericho both climbed off the wagon; Ben said "Jericho stay by the wagon and I will go get Mr. Jones." He walked up the mound and up the stairs and nodded on the front door. After a few minutes, the front door opened and Jericho could see Ben talking and pointing in his direction. The front door closed and Ben turned and walked back down the front porch stairs to where Jericho was. "Jericho, Mr. Jones will be with you in a few minutes, he and his family were just finishing their dinner," said Ben.
After a few minutes had passed, the front door opened and this well dressed man in black stepped onto the front porch and he waved at them and headed their way. He had the look of a preacher rather that a farmer; thought Jericho. As the man approached; Jericho reached out to shake the man's hand; the man did the same as he approached. "Jericho Cain originally from Bayou Cane, Louisiana; I am happy to meet you sir." "I am Damascus Jones, formerly of Durham, North Carolina," said Mr. Jones.
"Ben, excuse us for a few minutes, I have a few things to discuss with Jericho; stay here and we will be back in a little while." Mr. Jones turned toward the dirt path that would take them to the sugarcane fields; Jericho walked, with Mr. Jones wondering what would be required of him.
"Jericho, tell me more about the outfit you were last with back in Louisiana," said Damascus Jones.
Jericho said, first I am originally from Bayou Cane, Louisiana; born and raised there." In Bayou Cane is where I got my start in working sugarcane and other crops corn and rice. I moved to Houma while I was in my early twenties. I worked in many areas of the sugarcane growing and harvesting business since I was 16 years old; and I have worked as a foreman the past five years. Three years as foreman of the growing and harvesting at Orleans Sugarcane Growers; There I oversaw 50 to 100 field workers each day. Two years as foreman at the Orleans Sugarcane Mill; at the mill I oversaw 25 workers. At the peak of processing, the mill process one ton of sugarcane per day. Business slowed, work slowed at the mill and I was let go this past January.
"Very good Jericho, thank you;" said Damascus Jones. "I am originally from Richmond, Virginia; my family own companies in the tobacco industry. When I finished boarding school in Charleston, South Carolina; I was then sent to University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After finishing Virginia, I did not go back to live in Richmond and I did not go in my family's business. I took my inheritance, moved to Durham, North Carolina; and started my own tobacco wholesale business. I have to say, I was very successful as a wholesaler for several years. My three sons; Michael, Sean and Raymond whom I love dearly, were all born in Durham. A few years back, my wife started having difficulties breathing; and the doctors though it best for her to get away smoke stacks and the smell of tobacco in the air. Lucy Westfield was born the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher there in Durham; in 1912 she did me the honor of marrying me. Lucy Jones is the sweetness woman I ever met. So in 1924, I sold my wholesale business to my older brother; and we moved to Lake Worth, Florida. In February 1926 I bought this farm from a man named Robert Sandberg. Sandberg, built that large main house; but he lost a lot of money on the crops that he planted and I bought the farm from him at a very depressed price. I hired men and planted sugarcane and corn. God has been blessing the Jones Farm every year since.
"As I said in my letter to you; you will have use of the cabin without cost, as long as you are my foreman here at Jones Farm," said Damascus Jones. Also the pay each month will be $128.00 as I stated in my letter, said Damascus Jones. Do you have any questions for me Jericho? said Damascus Jones. Yes, "where is your sugarcane shipped to for processing and where is your corn packed at," said Jericho.
Damascus Jones said, "my sugarcane is processed at Glades Sugar Mill located near Loxahatchee." It is a Co-Operative for the area sugarcane growers, said Damascus Jones. "The corn is ship and pack at South Bay Southern Packers in South Bay, said Damascus Jones.
Walking slowly down the path Damascus Jones said, "Jericho, I am delighted that you took me up on my employment offer; you and your family have come a good distance for work and starting a new life," "Yes we have," said Jericho. "I am ready to go to work," said Jericho. Mr. Jones said, there is a lot of work to be done since last the harvest season. The corn and sugarcane crops just completed. I heard about you and your family from this traveling evangelist who had met your wife earlier this year when he did a revival near Houma; he thought I would be interested in hiring you.
"Yes and when I got that letter from you Mr. Jones, her prayers and mine had been answered;" said Jericho. "As your reply to me states, you have experience in planting, growing and harvesting sugarcane; and you have worked some as a foreman," said Mr. Jones. "Yes sir," said Jericho.
"Jericho, I own a total 5,000 crop growing acres; 3,000 acres for sugarcane, 1,000 for corn and the rest for growing other vegetables that we deliver to wholesalers and markets in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth areas and sometime even down to Miami," said Mr. Jones. The wholesalers ship a lot of the vegetables to buyers up north. I want you to be my new foreman, to oversee the planting, growing and harvesting of the sugarcane and corn crops. The other crops I will let you know later. Jones Farm has 10 full time field workers; Big Ben will help with them; all of the field workers are Negro; and since Big Jim is a Negro also, he will be valuable in keeping the men motivated and on task"
Jericho said, "what happened to foreman before me?" Damascus Jones said, "he got caught stealing." Jericho further said, "what did he steal?" "He got caught selling a truckload of my corn to one of those wholesalers in Lake Worth," said Mr. Jones. The wholesaler is out of business and doing time up in Radford State Prison and the foreman is doing his time in hell," said Damascus Jones. Also Jericho, every day the workers have to be picked up and dropped off after work at the Ramp by you are Big Ben; said Damascus Jones.
By then the two had made it to the sugarcane fields and while Jericho was looking around he inquired, "are there maps of the fields;" Mr. Jones said "yes, I will give copies to Big Jim and he will have them for you tomorrow morning." "Well, it is getting late;" Mr. Jones said and they both turned around and head back to where they had we left Big Jim. Once they reached Big Ben; Mr. Jones said good night to the both of them and he headed back to the main house. Ben and Jericho climb onto the wagon, Ben took the reign of the wagon and we headed back to my new home, the little white cabin. Once arriving back at the cabin it was dark; Ben turned and asked Jericho; "what time do you what me to pick you up in the morning?" "I have to show the workers that the foreman can be on the job early in the morning", said Jericho. "how does 6:00 am sound to you?"
Ben said, "that sounds about right to me; see you then. Jericho climbed down of the wagon and Ben slowly rolled the wagon away into the darkness. Jericho, stepped onto the front porch and called out to his wife and said; "Sara, it is Jericho." The door opened and Sara was standing there with her face shining bright by an oil lamp in the living room. It could be that Sara and the girls had cleaned the cabin while he'd been gone and they were happy to just have a roof over their heads afte three days on the road and traveling in the back of that dirty and airy truck. Jericho smelled an air something wonderful that was cooking and he asked; what is for supper? Rachel shouted; "corn bread and beef jerky stew."; "And we even made some sweet lemonade." "Really" Jericho replied; "how is that possible?" Sara replied, "Well there is a lemon tree out back that the girls spotted and there are a couple of jars of cane syrup left on the shelf in the kitchen." It appears that they just added the indoor toilet and running water; isn't that nice; Sara said. Well, let me wash my hands and will eat; I have to go to bed soon; I have to be up and ready for work at 6:00am.
Excerpted from Raising Cane by Richard Cleveland. Copyright © 2016 Richard Cleveland. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Young Blood, 1,
Chapter 2 Belle Glade "New Start", 4,
Chapter 3 The Harvest, 19,
Chapter 4 The Big Storm, 25,
Chapter 5 The Hunt for Damascus Jones, 34,