Uncle Frank was at the office the other day, and I finally had the chance to catch a few of his memories. (Recorded on my iPhone so I won’t forget them.) Mike, one of my aunt’s sons, was hearing the stories for the first time.
At one point, UF kind of paused in his storytelling, so I said, “Tell Mike the story about Granddad Mitchell stealing watermelons.”
“I don’t know that story.” I was disappointed, but my suggestion sparked another memory for Frank.
“A man leased Granddad Mitchell’s place in the Basin after Granddad moved to town. The man planted several acres of watermelons, along-side the ditch.”
The area has changed a lot since Keystone was built, but if I remember right, there was a road that went right beside Granddad’s house, and I think the ditch was next to the road. I should have asked, but I didn’t want to interrupt his story.
“I was working on the farm close by and kept an eye on that patch of melons. You know, you can smell a patch of watermelons before you can see them. I passed that patch day after day, until I thought they ought to be about ripe.
“Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. One day when I’d finished working, I went to that patch and picked me a melon. I pulled out my knife and cut it right there. It wasn’t ripe, so I threw it in the ditch and picked another. It wasn’t ripe either, so I threw it in the ditch. Finally, I found one that was ripe.
“Boy, oh Boy! You know, a sweet melon is really good on a blazing hot summer day. I looked up, and there was that farmer, just awatchin’ me eat that melon.”
“He never said a word. Just turned around and went back to the house.”
♥ ♥ ♥
Here’s the story Uncle Frank said he didn’t recall. Learning that Granddad had leased his place to someone who farmed melons makes me think at least part of this story is true. I heard it from my dad, who probably heard it from his dad.
Knowing that, be warned: Part of it could be embellished.
When Granddad Mitchell was a young(ish) man, he loved to play practical jokes.
He and a friend decided to steal watermelons from a farmer one day. They sneaked up to the patch and, after checking to see that no one was around, they started pulling melons.
All of a sudden, the farmer ran into the field with a shotgun.”I’m sick and tired of you hooligans stealing my melons! Well, you won’t steal any more of them.” The farmer raised his gun and fired right at them.
Granddad Mitchell slumped to the ground. His poor friend was so frightened, he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t just leave his buddy to die in the watermelon patch, so he slung Granddad over his shoulder and ran with him. The sandy soil slowed him and watermelons and vines tripped him, but he struggled on.
I’m sure he sobbed, “Don’t die. Please don’t die,” as he scrambled to get out of there.
The man did his best to get my only-pretending-to-be-shot Gread Grandfather to help when he felt a warm liquid soaking the back of his shirt. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! He’s bleeding to death!”
The guy probably wanted to make granddad bleed when he found out Granddad had peed down his back. It was only a joke.