Monday, July 27, 2015

Watermelon Man

Early in May BBBH came wagging a watermelon home.  At that time, I told you about her love for this delicious cucurbit.  In all fairness, I should mention that she is not the only one in this household who likes this treat.

Let us say it is the summer of 1944.  I am ten years old, Sister is seven.  The entire family, Mom, Dad, and the two kids are in the car.  We are going to the Safeway on a hot summer day.  Weird, you are thinking.  No, it is not.  Mother doesn't drive and the grocery shopping is a family excursion.

I spare you the detail and place us all back in the old Ford for the trip home with the groceries.  (It should be understood that the purchases at the grocery store tended to be staples: flour, sugar, baking soda, raisins perhaps, in general, stuff Dad could not grow or kill.)  Anyway, at the corner of Spruce and Colorado Avenue we will turn north.  And on that very corner is the Watermelon Man!  A pickup truck load of the beautiful things up from The Valley.  "Oh, Daddy! Can we have a watermelon? Can we, hunh?" I'm not sure which of us said it first, Sister or Me, but the other immediately chimed in with "Yeah, Daddy, can we, please?"

Then the devastating response.  "Four and a half cents a pound.  Way too much.  We'll have to wait until is down to two cents."

So we waited.  And watched the prices as the days passed.  Now the salivary glands flood our mouths as we pass the watermelon stands.  And then "Melons 21/¢."

"Please, Daddy. Please, please!"

And he caves.  "Well, it's still a little high, but I think I have fifty cents, so if we can find one under twenty pounds, we'll get it!"

Watermelon Man plugs the chosen melon, it is every bit as good as we had hoped, and a happy family heads home with the treasure!

Painting by A. F. King

Word of the day:  plug, in the given context.


Vee said...

I remember those days, and that we always had a ripe, sweet melon. The plugging process meant no complaints from the family.

I have never had the same experience with the seedless variety. Maybe that's just because the melons here aren't as great. As much as I love watermelon,I don't waste my money on what is available here.

Grace said...

Aside from bananas I gave given up buying quote/unquote fresh fruit - how sad is that since I could easily live on fruit! We didn't have watermelon much when I was a kid, maybe that's why I crave it particularly - my mother couldn't stand the way it smelled.

Secondary Roads said...

Do you think that a two-pound wedge of that would be worth a "plug nickle?"

vanilla said...

Vee, in the day, watermelon was definitely a seasonal treat: when the local melons were ready. Now, people expecting to get whatever they want when they want it, have come to accept whatever produce they may get from Ghana? Colombia? Heaven knows where? The result in melons as in many other products is often a tasteless look-alike.

Grace, see comment to Vee re unpalatable produce. I do hope, though, that you can find a good melon somewhere. Soon.

Chuck, don't know the value of either a two-pound wedge of melon or a plug nickel. I do know that when I picked "plug" as the word of the day I thought of many contexts in which it is used, frequently presenting different meanings. I recently learned, I have lived a sheltered life, that in certain places "to plug a watermelon" means to infuse the fruit with a favorite alcoholic beverage. Gaaaa!

Lin said...

I have never heard of "plugging" a watermelon.

Why do all of our fruits and vegetables taste so bland now? Is it just me?

vanilla said...

Lin, it is not just you. It is point-of-origin and process. Things are picked well before peak, transported across the sea, and then displayed prettily to fool us into thinking they will be delicious.