Week 5 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge asks bloggers to consider “plowing through.” I immediately thought of two very different recollections by my grandmothers of gardens their families’ tended in their childhood.
Me: Did you grow all your vegetables and stuff, or was there a store?
My mother’s mother: Child, Papa would, every spring of the year, Papa would start out with this great big garden. Everybody would be out there hoeing and carrying on and planting and doing. And he wouldn’t go back out there anymore, and in a few weeks, the weeds would have taken over. [Laughs.] Oh, we might have some things that grew quickly first. Now, we always had potatoes, white potatoes. He would plant white potatoes, and what else would he plant? Green peas. You know, like snow peas. And I can see now, the cabbage with the worms eating that up. [Laughs.] That was no good. And what else did he have out there? Tomatoes. He’d have tomatoes. That was just about all. There’d be just those things that’d come early in the spring. And we wouldn’t have anything later. And then we had somebody who came in and – we lived on about an acre. It was just about an acre of land. And he would have all this cornfield, cornfield and pole beans. Ohhh, I can see those beans and great big ears of corn. I don’t think Mama ever canned any corn or anything like that, but we would eat corn, and all the neighbors would eat corn from that cornfield. And this old gentleman that I told you that helped Papa…. What was that man’s name? I can’t think of it, but anyway, he was the one who cultivated the land and did the planting.
My father’s mother: Yeah, they said he could use it and grow a little cotton. Old Man Price was in a house over on one corner, and the school over here. And while he was working, plowing that garden where was on the side, Professor [Charles L.] Coon[, superintendent of Wilson city schools] let him have whatever he put in it. He would buy all the stuff to go in the ground, if he would just work it. The part there where was to the children’s playground. But they had it barred off, the children didn’t actually go over in that part. So he’d plant that, and then he’d [inaudible] me and Mamie had to get up two o’clock in the morning, go down there and pick up potatoes. Light night. It’d be so bright you could see ‘em. He’d plow it up, turn that ground over, and all them old potatoes down there, put ’em in baskets, and what we couldn’t see ‘fore it got real daylight, we had to go out there and pick ‘em up when it got day.
Interviews of Margaret C. Allen and Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.