6

On page 4 the narrator refers to "the bunching ground." I searched the web and found no definitions but a Bunching Ground Road near Jackson, Alabama. I called the Clarke County Historical Museum near there, but they didn't know what the name means. It might have something to do with timber harvesting. What is it?

1 Answer 1

9

The "bunching ground" seems to be a term used in the turpentine industry. From an oral history interview conducted with a turpentine worker by Valdosta State University, we find out about the process of gathering barrels of resin from the tress ("gum") to be purified into turpentine:

TP: Now, after the barrels had been filled and collected, how were they hauled to the still when you were –

WW: We had a truck driver that comes out there that picks ‘em up and take ‘em at the still... most of the trailers hold about 6 barrels and some of ‘em hold 8. And you get those full, you come up there, out to the road, we have a place there where you call the bunching ground. That’s where you dump all your gum off the trailer on the ground, but it’d still be in the barrels right on, it was what you called the bunching ground.

So the bunching ground is a place where the individual workers bring their barrels, to gather a large stock of them together. Once there are sufficient barrels there, a large truck comes by to pick them up and take them to the distillery. I would guess that the term comes from the sense of "to gather a bunch (of barrels) together".

This fits well with the usage in Nowhere Else on Earth: "[Cee] hated turpentining, for killing her father, and she blamed it also for the death of he mother, who declined into a widow's despair and one year later shot herself at the bunching ground." The place of her mother's suicide was a place intimately connected to turpentining, just as her father's death was also caused by this industry.

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.