By Jack Hackley
My mother’s grandfather settled about three miles north and east of Oak Grove in Lafayette County in about 1850. He was a tenant farmer, as was my grandfather, and one of their cash crops was hemp.
There were several ropewalk factories up and down the river. Lexington had three. This is why we have so much wild hemp or marijuana still growing in our area.
Several years ago I became friends with Walt Lockman. He was program manager of KMBC in Kansas City. He introduced me to several people at Channel 9, including Mike Jerrick, the host for a locally produced TV show called P.M. Magazine. Whenever they needed a particular background or piece of equipment, he would call me to see where he could shoot the scene he needed.
He called me one day and said P.M. Magazine had a segment about a man who was trying to legally smoke a marijuana cigarette to relieve the nausea from a cancer treatment he was taking. They needed a lead-in shot of a marijuana patch and did I know where he could find one. I told him we had a pretty good patch out in an old barn lot and my mother called it hemp, not marijuana.
Here came the film crew to the hemp patch. They interviewed my mother, who told them her father grew hemp, baled it, and hauled it to the river at Napoleon to sell it.
It was then loaded on a barge and taken to a rope factory. Well, the next thing that happened, a car load of her great nieces and nephews and their friends who saw the segment on television came out to the farm to hear her retell the story.
And by the way, Aunt Bessie, just where is that patch that was on TV? Since it was about bedtime for my mom, the kids left. The next day when I talked to my mother, she said the strangest thing had happened. All the leaves had fallen off those hemp plants.