This Week's Story

Who knows where a bumpy pebble or a thickly veined purplish leaf might take George Washington Carver?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

The Gift of Possible, part five

“Barbara, you have too many parts to this George Washington Carver story.  One’s enough, but you’re on your fifth chapter.”

“Liz, I would agree, if George’s only gift to millions of people was peanut butter.”

“What more can you add?”

“Much!  I think his best gift to history was how he lived ‘the gift of possible.’  Here’s a little example.  On his morning walks he never returned with empty pockets.  Maybe he found a bumpy pebble or a thickly veined purplish leaf. Who knew where the bumps might take his mind, but he would have experimented with the contents of the veins and producing the color purple.

“Possible for George meant not giving up when the college, which accepted his application, rejected him when they met him. To them black was unacceptable. Possible was surviving the recurring memories of seeing a man lynched.  It was not staying trapped in fear, after men gave him a cruel beating. It was his wonder, and seeing problems and possibilities. Possible was having good friends, white and black, who encouraged him.  It was trusting God.

“When George became the head of the new agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute, the students were not interested in becoming farmers.  They were ex-slaves with dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, and plantation owners.  Eighty-five percent of Southern blacks were small farmers growing cotton and making no profit. Who wanted to be a poor farmer?  George found thirteen students.  By the end of his first year at Tuskegee he had twenty-seven students, who found his classes fascinating.

“Funds for his department were small. His duty load, in addition to being a department head, was huge. He was in charge of the school’s poor poultry yards, dairy, orchard, and beehive. He was to oversee the school plumbing, the safety of the school drinking water, the school landscaping, cleanliness of the school grounds, and veterinary services. The United States government also wanted an agricultural station at Tuskegee to do experiments to help farmers, which would be George’s responsibility.

“George poured himself into his job, identifying needs, and finding resources. He organized a once a month all-day training for local farmers and their wives to show them new farming practices. He travelled to poor struggling Alabama farmers with a wagon of possible products and advice. ‘Grow at least one crop that you can eat, like sweet potatoes. If cotton prices are bad, you still will have food for the winter.’  He wrote popular helpful bulletins for farmers, their wives, and farm advisers. Some farmers changed; many did not.

“Then in 1904 boll weevils, little beetles, crossed the Mexican border and began eating and destroying cotton crops across southern United States.  George with his students had already discovered that legumes put nitrogen back into soil stripped by cotton plants. Peanuts were the easiest to grow.  They were rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Farmers were convinced to plant thousands of acres for peanuts.  But who would buy them? Where would be the big markets like cotton had?  How could peanuts be used?  Morning after morning he asked God to help him find answers.  Then one day as he was praying, in his heart he heard the message, ‘Take the peanut apart.’

“He separated the sugar, starch, water, fat, oil, gum, pectos, pentosan, and amino acid.  George asked God, ‘What do I do with the parts?’”

God’s answer was a further step into the gift of possible with a peanut.

This is Barbara Steiner. The peanut story is sure to come.  Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

<< previous story] [next story >>


We invite your comments!  [click here to comment]

Let's Talk


Facebook Join the conversation.

This Week's Story is a non-profit supported by listeners. [click here to make a donation with ]