Thursday, June 1, 2017
That also brought memories of having a dish of ripe tomatoes twice a day, and at that time, didn't realize how fortunate I was to be raised on a farm.
Those were the years of the Great Depression, and my dad had to switch from being a cotton farmer to a truck farmer. In fact, he had to leave his cotton crop, unpicked, in the field, because the selling price wouldn't pay for the cost of having it picked.
Today's generation may find the term "truck farming" a bit puzzling, but it's an old term from the 1800s referring to carrying fresh vegetables to market. In those early years through the 30s,"trucking" was done with wagons although lots of Model T Fords were adapted to hauling.
You young folks gotta remember that life existed before pickup trucks and cell phones—.or Walmart or Home Depot. Dad raised his own tomato plants...hundreds of them. I know because I was the one who dropped them in the hole that one of my parents dug for each plant. And since rain often does not come at the most convenient time, those same plants had to be watered by hand.
The earliest crop of tomatoes brought the highest prices, so my dad built a framed bed that he could cover with a roll back canvas cover to protect the young plants from a freeze. There was no running water...the only power on most farms was human energy and four-legged horse power...so we pumped water, and used a syrup bucket with holes punched in the bottom to water the plants.
There was a risk attached to trying for an early crop—Texas weather! Hail or a late spring freeze. There was little a farmer could do to protect a field of young plants from hail, but there were many times we covered the plants with paper tents from old Saturday Post magazines. Row after row of plants spaced four feet apart, all needing to be covered with paper tents.
That trusty magazine came into use again when the tomatoes were ready for market. The pages were separated and used to line the bushel baskets so the tomatoes would be protected from damage from the rough basket and its tiny staples.
Our house had a long south front porch, and that was where we sorted and packed the tomatoes for hauling to market. Ripe tomatoes were set aside to be packed in baskets for local sales—one day of shipping and they would haveturned to a juicy mush. Scared tomatoes were not packed for sale. Those were commonly called "cat-faced." I never saw one that resembled a cat in any way, but I suppose someone did at some time.
Tomatoes were not tumbled into baskets and carried to market. They were packed in rings, starting with the ones with just a blush of pink, and gradually getting riper as the basket was filled. Beautiful things! Something to dream of, nowadays, as we visit the produce section of our supermarkets.
If you've never picked tomatoes, you may not know that contact with the vines turns your hands a dirty-looking green. And I'll bet you don't know thar the best way to remove it is by sqeezing a tomato into a pulp and rubbing it all over your hands like soap.
The good ole days.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Remember this? It was first produced in 1934 as a three-pc. set of a pitcher, bowl and a mug. With a small amount of money—10¢ or 15¢ and the required number of box tops, hundreds of little girls ate a lot of cereal trying to save enough boxtops or coupons to get this Shirley Temple pitcher. Today, they appear in antique stores priced at $25 to $75. But beware of reproductions.
Another boxtops offer was this little microscope. It was well made and did a fair job of magnifying. In my adult years a local nurse gave me a couple of slides to go with it. Today it sits on one of my nurse daughter's shelves.
A small telescope was another boxtops offer, but after forty years and several moves, it went away, somewhere, somehow. I wish I remembered.
In the Depression Years, nothing was wasted or thrown away, because it might be useful at another time. That has formed the habits of a lifetime—saving things like this tiny oil can. Never used for seventy years, it has found its niche in a display of old things.
Unexpected things appear when cleaning a garage—like this bottle of bluing.
A bottle of 'bluing' was part of each washday in most households back in good old days of lye soap and wash pots. Enough of the concentrated blue liquid was added to the last tub of rinse water to tint it light blue. This light blue water was supposed to counteract the gradual yellowing of white cottons. At least that was what I was told. As a child, I was in charge of rinsing the laundry through the two tubs of rinse water. For those not familiar with the system, each piece was swished around in the water and all the water wrung out before repeating the process in the next tub. Tiresome and boring—but enlivened by swarms of biting flies that were attracted to wet skin.
Mrs. Stewart's bluing has been around since 1883 and can still be purchased either online or in several other locations, including Ace hardware stores. Besides brightening white fabrics, it was used in various other ways such as brightening a pet's hair( and the ladies, also), and dyeing Easter eggs. I remember adding bluing to the salt crystal 'gardens' we made as school projects.
Another oldie found in our garage clutter was this reminder of days gone by.
Remember ink bottles and learning to write with a fountain pen and ink? Remember those ink-stained fingers? Fountain pens were filled with ink by opening a little lever which compressed a rubber bladder inside the pen. Releasing the lever caused ink to be drawn into the bladder. I vaguely remember the first words written after filling, always had an excess of ink. Pressing down too hard on the writing point also caused an ink blot and also often bent the fine writing point (which was replaceable).
Oh, we kids of the '30s had it hard. Not only did we have to walk to school (uphill and in the snow), we had to learn to write cursive with a fountain pin that sometimes had a bent tip.
More garage clutter another time. There's things out there that I can't identify. Maybe you can.