July 21, 2010
Imagine as a child having your very own watermelon to each all by yourself. This is the way we ate water melon. The best part; the heart was all yours; to spoon. We had so many that any given day there were fourteen or fifteen under the hedge bush beside the barn lot. Taking the watermelon as your own was a great thrill. Grandmother, I think used the watermelon as a release of a hard day. I can still see her in her in a bonnet, apron, thin cotton dress and a mans work shirt; butcher knife in hand saying come on kids lets cut a watermelon.We used my grandmother’s favorite butcher knife to cut it open. To the adults back then giving a kid a butcher knife was no big deal. The melons were so ripe that when you cut into them they would burst spilt open just by sticking the knife in the melon. Yellow meat ones were the best. They were sweeter than the red ones. Having your own also meant that you could play with it anyway you desired. A watermelon made a great craft project for me. I would eat all I wanted and spoon the rest out to the rind. This made a great bowl. Nothing fancy as you see today in watermelon carvings, but I was carving watermelons when I was just a skinny girl.
The shade tree at the south end of Grandmother’s house is where we did many of our favorite things. It was the best shade in the yard. There were names carved in the tree from many years before. One of the neighbors had carved his girlfriends name in the tree. This was unsettling to me, because he had died in a car accident shortly after he married her. He was running from the Lexington law. This story as a child was creepy to me, but the nosey little thing I was I listened no matter how creepy it was to me. The widow years later would cry just by the mention of his name. She still grieves over him more than forty-years later. She never married again and became morbidly obese. Daddy always said most really fat people are pretty in the face; and she was the one he was talking about when he made this statement. I remember thinking maybe it is because their skin is stretched out smooth. She was at a many watermelon eating and always pointed out were Homer had carved; Homer Loves Wanda.
When we grew watermelons it was not just a normal row in the garden. We saved the seeds from year to year. Buying seeds something Grandmother did not do, unless she had to. The watermelons were not planted in the garden so there would be more room for the green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, squash okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and cabbage. When the cabbage was finished each year it was replaced by tomato sets that we had from seeds in various pots or buckets. When something finished bearing, it was quickly replaced by one that would do the best later in the gardening season. Most of the time it was tomatoes; purple hull peas were planted after the potatoes were dug up.
The watermelons were not even close to the garden. They were on the Mandy Farm. Each one of the plots of land owned had a name The Mandy Farm was the cotton patch. It was twenty acres of flat fertile land. Cotton was our only cash crop; therefore it was planted on the best spot of land. When the cotton was planted there was sometimes rolls that the planter did not drop the cotton seeds. When this happened we didn't know it until the cotton was already up. This did not happen to many of the rows because the person operating the tractor paid close attention the seeds were dropping. When the rows were not planted this is the place we planted the water melons. The rows at the Many farm were a quarter of a mile long. Therefore the two rows we planted watermelons equaled half mile of water melons. The lenth of the rows were the measurement of when we got to take a water break while chopping the cotton. When we had finished a mile of chopping that is when we got to take a water break.
Grandmother said many times if you live your life and can count your true friends on one hand you have done well. I was often hurt by this statement, because I thought I had way more than five friends. The older I get the more I realize that my grandmother was right. I when I was younger had all these friends that I no longer ever see or talk to. The main one’s been lost because my life was changed, because of a tragedy and needed them most. Grandmother also said. Cry and you cry alone laugh and the whole world laughs with you. She must have said this for me many times, because I have cried my whole life over something. Even if I did get a whole watermelon to eat everyday in the summer.