July 3, 2009

First Ripe Champion Tomato – 2009

        The First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest has been won!  Larry Casey of Rt. 2 brought his beautiful bright red, baseball size tomato into Henson’s Store on Tuesday afternoon, June 30, and shared with Judges Betty Henson and Wilda Moses.  Casey did not know the name of the variety but says he generally grows Rutgers.  This was just a pretty plant that he had picked up over in Cabool early in the season.  The tomato had a nice firm heart and a rich tangy taste, sweet and juicy.  It was firm enough to cut nicely, but definitely perfectly ripe.  A little salt and the judges were transported to tomato heaven.

        For his trouble, Casey was awarded a Certificate of Champion Achievement, a $10.00 gift certificate from the Plant Place in Norwood, 6 tickets (valued at $5.00) for the quilt drawing to be held August 15, at the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Picnic, two dozen canning jar lids (1 each regular and wide mouth) and an old fruit jar.  The fruit jar was made in 1966 in Canada.  It is a brand called “Crown” and it has a crown embossed on the side.  It has a glass lid with a zinc rim.  He was pleased with his loot and Champions can probably look for him to try for the prize next year as well.

        Casey has been gardening he said for 70 years, though he is just 73 years old.  He is a retired welder and pipe fitter who moved to Champion ten years ago.  He grows a big garden and is a great promoter of purple-hulled peas and had some seed to share.  He said that he had just returned from a trip to Houston, Texas where the Local Pipe Fitters Union, to which he had belonged for 50 years, had honored him for his achievements.  He said that he came back to find his garden overgrown with weeds and two big tomatoes hiding in them, just about ready to eat.  He and his friend Debbie Newland had finished off the first one before they brought the prizewinner down to Henson’s Store.

        Last year the prize was awarded on July 12th to Champion Louise Hutchison.  She and her daughter, Debbie Maynard, granddaughter Amy McGuire and great granddaughter, Hanna Rose McGuire happened into the store just as the judging was over.  Louise and Larry had a few minutes to visit about gardening.  She says that her garden has been suffering from the drought.  Larry complained about deer eating his sweet potatoes.  Louise said that she had heard that if a person cut up a bar of Irish Spring Soap and sprinkled it around that it was a good deterrent for the deer.  Larry thinks he will try it.  It is a Champion thing that gardeners are willing to share their seeds, information and tomatoes!


The Old Straw Hat

By: Betty Dye
September 2007

Straw Hat        You can see it on a nail in Mom’s kitchen now.  The old straw hat my daddy wore is hanging there today. 

        He wore it when he mowed the grass, or when he plowed the fields.  When he cut hay, or fed the cows or hunted in the woods.  If he chopped wood or fixed the fence or any other chore, you would always find a straw hat sitting on his head. When to town he would go, with mom and all us kids.  To buy the food or pay the bills or whatever needed done, an old straw hat would be there to cover up his head.

Daddy        Down through the years the styles would change, the colors would change too, but you would always see a straw hat placed upon his head.  As children grew and grandkids came, and age began to show, a straw hat would be sitting there like a crown upon his head.  The years were long and many, the hard ships quite a few, but the joys he found in his family made the hardships fade from view.

        He taught his children that hard work would get them through this life.  If you gave your word you should always keep it and never take it back.  He believed the truth was always best, and a lie would never do, and a spanking every now and then, would teach children right from wrong.

        He loved our mom for fifty years, with a love so strong and true, and even when they disagreed that love would come shining through.

        The day finally came, and we always knew it would, when dad would not be with us for the Lord had called him home. We miss him in so many ways but the memories are so clear.  The love he gave to each of us, we feel it more and more.

        I know for me, my memories bring tears and even joy. And when I see his straw hat the stronger they become.  I know that in my heart, he’s here with me right now.  He’ll always be a part of me as I continue on, and his old straw hat will help remind me of all he had said and done, and forever have a part in my memories of time.