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Sun May 30, 2021, 03:03 PM

I think I was 6---maybe 7---the first spring my Mom took me with her to pick strawberries.

We caught a ride in the back of our neighbor's ancient Dodge pick-up who was also going go pick with his wife. Mom could have squeezed into the cab with them , but chose to keep me company in back. We took off before dawn so we could start picking at first light before it got too warm. In 30 to 40 minutes, we pulled up in front of several unpainted sheds and a crowd of brown-skinned folks who Mom said were "workers from Mexico" and the man in charge of handing out flats of wooden quart boxes called "wetbacks". I had never heard that word before, but could tell instantly it was "bad" by the flash in Mom's eyes and the set of her mouth.
One area of the huge patch of berries was reserved for the "Mexican workers" and another was for the public like us. I followed Mom into the patch and was amazed at the rows of red berries.

I had been taught to work and pretty much kept up with Mom as we filled and set aside six-flats ( six quart boxes in a wooden flat tray with a handle ). After a flat or two, I walked over next to Mom and asked "Would it be ok if I ate one?". She laughed out loud and said "All you want, darlin'!" and would often later in my life remind me that I was right to ask if I could eat an "unpaid for" strawberry.

I think we picked 60 or so quarts of berries and Mom paid the manager---true story--- five cents for each heaping quart! We loaded them and ourselves into the back of the truck and we headed home. I had no idea we would make a stop on the way.

We pulled off the highway onto a gravel parking lot surrounding a small building that had---omigosh!---a giant swirled ice cream cone on top of it! Before I could take it all in, Mom asked with a smile if I "had room" for some ice cream! I blurted out some kind of "YES!" and she told me to stay put while she bought some.

I was expecting the treat of an ice cream cone but, instead, Mom came back and handed me my first-ever previously-undreamed-of----banana split! A scoop of vanilla ice cream flanked by a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of chocolate! A lengthways sliced banana half on each side of the long "boat" dish! Coconut! Caramel and chocolate syrup with peanuts sprinkled over all! HEAVEN!

Mom said it was a reward for being a "good picker" and, as we pulled away from the place, I saw on the posted outside price list that what I was quickly devouring had cost my Mom---THIRTY CENTS!

Mom had a nickel cone.

I still remember, Mom. Love you!


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Reply I think I was 6---maybe 7---the first spring my Mom took me with her to pick strawberries. (Original post)
Atticus May 30 OP
Rorey May 30 #1
rsdsharp May 30 #2
Arkansas Granny May 30 #3
Atticus May 30 #4
abqtommy May 30 #5
hauckeye May 30 #6
Jughead May 30 #7
Delmette2.0 May 30 #8
FuzzyRabbit May 30 #9
llmart May 30 #10

Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 03:08 PM

1. Great. Thanks. Now I want a banana split.

Seriously, though, that's a nice story (other than the "wetback" part, which was interesting, but of course I can't call it "nice".

Apparently I somehow became allergic to strawberries, but the rest of that banana split sounds yummy!

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 03:18 PM

2. That's a great memory. My family had a few strawberry,

raspberry and blackberry bushes out by our detached garage. We couldn’t pick as much as you did, but we could get enough for dessert for the six of us: berries with a little sugar and cream.

The tornado took the garage, and the plants, in ‘68.

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 03:52 PM

3. One of our neighbors had an enormous blackberry patch that grew in the

area that was cleared out under the power lines that crossed their property. I would go with her and we would pick buckets full of berries in the morning and spend the afternoon canning them and making blackberry jam.

We had Jersey cows at the time and I'm telling you, there are few things better than fresh berries sprinkled with a little sugar and swimming in that thick, rich cream from those cows. Heaven in a bowl.

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Response to Arkansas Granny (Reply #3)

Sun May 30, 2021, 04:32 PM

4. Oh, yeah---been there done that! 'Cept our cream was from top of the glass quart bottles

delivered to our front porch. They had cardboard "lids" and a little area just under that lid where the cream rose.

Blackberries and dewberries were delicious fresh, in jelly or---my, my, my!---cobblers! The price to pay was scratches and chiggers, but it always seemed worth it.

Thanks for your memory.

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 05:23 PM

5. I remember helping my grandparents pick cherries and strawberries too. Unfortunately, I

over-indulged in eating in both cases. That resulted in some extreme digestive discomfort but was
oh so educational! I like your memory better!

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 05:42 PM

6. Growing up in Iowa we had strawberry patches

They tasted so much better than what you buy today.

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 05:43 PM

7. Great story it reminded of my mom

At 6-7 she would tie strings around our necks attaching 2 handled metal pots for picking.
4 of us would spend hours picking blackberries. Mom was so happy to see us when we came home with pounds of berries. We knew we were in for blackberry pie, blackberry buckle, blackberry cake, and muffins.
Great memories

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 06:13 PM

8. My Mom, one year, had a load of Flathead (Montana) cherries.

I don't know how long it took to can
them all but we had at least 2 years of the best cherries around. And the juice was just as good.

Mom canned applesauce and chockcherry jelly and syrup.
Then there was apple jelly and current jelly.

It is amazing what three apple trees and a few bushes can bring to the table.

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 06:14 PM

9. Fresh berries all summer!

My dad grew strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, and blackberries. Nothing like fresh berries with Sunday breakfast.

We also had some good cherry and plum trees and a couple apple trees, and our neighbor had two pear trees. I grew up thinking everyone had fresh fruit growing in their back yard. Even now, a half century later, I can still remember the taste of the fresh fruit and berries, and I am always a little disappointed with store bought.

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Response to Atticus (Original post)

Sun May 30, 2021, 08:57 PM

10. What a nice story.

Brought back memories for me of making money by picking strawberries or raspberries or cherries as a kid. We were a big family, poor and as soon as we were old enough we rode our bikes to the nearest farm to make money picking whatever was in season. I think we got 5 cents a quart for strawberries and ten cents for raspberries since they were so much harder to pick and fill up a quart basket. If we didn't have a bike, we walked. We lived out in a rural area so houses were far apart.

Funny story - there was a farm across the street from our house and my youngest brother who was about eleven or twelve at the time, was tasked with making a sign for the tree out front of the farmhouse to alert people driving by that they could pick their own strawberries in the fields behind their farmhouse. My brother was so proud of himself that he made a sign that said "Strawberries - You Pick in Rear".

LOL - He has never lived that down.

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