Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Hitler AND Attila in MY Garden?

It rained here this weekend, and cooled down enough for me to take a stroll through my back yard. Know what I noticed?

Things have gone wild!

Mainly weeds. (Grass that grows in my garden=weeds.)

Remember the vine trying to take over the world?

Attila the Vine? I’d planned to move him (or at least part of him) but with the weather as dry as it was, I thought I’d wait until fall. Instead, I wound him around a pyramid thingy he grows on.

There are so many layers now, I may never find the pyramid thingy again.

This is the best part of my garden. (The wildest, at least.)

The green pile on the left that looks like Cousin It on St. Paddy’s Day (Cousin It–Adams Family. Remember?) is Attila the Vine. In the back is a castor bean plant. Yes, they’re supposed to be poison, but I haven’t seen any little animals dropping over in my garden.

I planted it to keep moles and gophers out of my yard. And it worked . . . kinda. I’ve seen only one mole run since I started planting castors. It started in the middle of my yard and headed (can you guess?) STRAIGHT for the plant.

Of course, it might have been a mole who strolled up to the plant, saw it was a poison bean, dove into the earth and drilled away. (I’m remembering a cartoon from my childhood as I write with a gopher working under a garden, pulling veggies from the roof of his run. Anybody remember that?)

Now meet Hitler.

Hitler is a gang of watermelons. They, too, are trying to take over the world.

See the thing hanging on the fence to the right of the bean, next to a star?

There you go. You can tell what it is now, right? It’s a watermelon. Anybody else grow watermelons on their fence?

These watermelon plants are volunteers. I planted them last year, and they came back.

(Isn’t winter supposed to kill off things like watermelons and pumpkins? Wait. Did we have a winter last year?)

Anyway, this gang has reached out to all parts of the garden and they’re even growing over Cousin It. (I pull them off, they crawl back on. What’s up with that?)

This guy was stuck in the back by that star, but I pulled it out,

which MIGHT have been a mistake. I’m not sure how much longer the vine can hold it there. (I wonder if a sling would help? Anyone who’s just over a carpal tunnel surgery want to donate?)

I have a few melons growing on the ground, too.

They’re also growing down the wall at the back of my garden into someone else’s yard. Yes, there are melons down there, and I can’t get to them. One even split open. *sigh*

Anybody know how to tell when a watermelon is ripe?

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♫♪ There’s a Hole in the Middle ♫♪

Watermelon with yellow flesh

Image via Wikipedia

When I was a little girl just so high
Mama took a stick and made me cry
Now I’m a big girl and Mama can’t do it
But Daddy takes a stick and hops right to it.

Okay, I got that out of my system. (Mama used to say that little poem. I don’t remember why she said it or where it came from, but it always made me laugh.)

Grandad Ray was a fantastic gardener. He always had big gardens. (Yes, gardenS. He wasn’t one to put all his eggs in one basket–or tomatoes, as the case might be.)

One year when I was in grade school, Grandad Ray grew a bunch of watermelons–both red and yellow meated melons. One day he told Sister Debbie and me that we could sell them if we wanted to, and keep the money.

Naturally, we took him up on it!

Grandad and Grandmother lived right next door to us, and he stored his melons in the garage where it was a little cool. (They would have baked like potatoes if the weather had been as hot as it is now. Whew!)

Anyway, every morning Sister D and I would roll several watermelons up to our front yard, out next to the street and sit behind them. We charged twenty-five cents for red meated and thirty-five cents for yellow.

One day a young man pulled to a stop, rolled down his window and hollered, “How much for a yella watermelon?”

“Thirty-five cents!” I yelled back.

The price was right, so he climbed out of his car and picked one out. Before he left, he dropped a quarter and a dime into my palm, then he jumped into his car and screeched away.

When we looked at our money, Deb and I noticed the quarter had a hole in the middle. When Daddy got home that evening, we showed it to him. “Is a quarter with a hole in it still good?”

“Nope. You might spend it in a vending machine, though.”

I think we went out of the melon business after that. Even though we made 100% profit, getting money we couldn’t spend for sitting out in the sun wasn’t much fun. We decided we liked playing with friends much more than have a watermelon stand.

Today whenever someone mentions The Watermelon Stand, my dad sings,

♪♫ “Well, I walked around the corner and I walked around the block. I walked right in to a bakery shop. I picked up a donut right out of the grease and handed the lady a five cent piece.

“She looked at the nickel and she looked at me. She said this nickel ain’t no good to me. There’s a hole in the middle and it’s all the way through.”

“Says I, ‘There’s a hole in the middle of the donut, too.’ Shave and a hair cut, six bits.” ♫♪

I know my posts are kind of sporadic lately, and I’m sorry about that. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you what’s going on. Ü Or  maybe you can guess.


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Old Small Town World

Watermelons

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Watermelons
Image via Wikipedia

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.