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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gray Matter: More about watermelons

Monday, September 24, 2007

            I love it when I get reactions to a Gray Matter column.  That happened recently when a delightful lady, who is somewhat older than I, started to tell me of the reminiscences my recent piece on watermelon vandalism had triggered for her. 

There is a youthful sparkle about my friend that somehow reveals the "kid" that I am convinced exists in all of us, no matter our chronological age.  She had brothers, so I suspected (and hoped) she was going to tell me of a foray in which she'd taken part.  However, some time later when we were able to sit down for a bit of time together, it turned out that her story was from the other end of the gun barrel, so to speak.

  It seems that early in their marriage, she and her husband regularly cultivated a sizable melon patch.  One late summer evening when car lights were mysteriously extinguished or they heard an unusual night noise (she couldn't remember just which) they were alerted to the fact that they were having some unwelcome visitors.  In the usual, time-tested fashion, her husband seized his firearm, and aimed for the sky.  As you might expect, the marauders ran for cover through the barbed wire that enclosed the patch.  Screams of torture ensued, as overalls and skin were equally damaged.

            What gave my friend's tale added interest was the fact that she knew the identity of the petty thieves.  I'm not sure how this came about, but with an impish grin, she supplied the name of at least one highly respected local citizen.  So, if the gentleman involved is reading this and still bears feelings of guilt concerning his misdemeanors in the Ohlendorfs' melon patch, now is the time to 'fess up.  You know, the old adage, "Confession is good for the soul."  Hmm!

            Another woman who was sitting nearby as we visited, had a sadder tale to tell.  In the Nebraska community where she was raised, a melon patch raid  ended in tragedy.  That foray followed the conventional pattern until the actual firing of the gun.  Whether by intent or accident, the farmer aimed too low.  The bullet struck and killed one of the youths involved.  The ensuing bitterness  including a lawsuit, which was most uncommon  in those days, scarred her home community for generations.

            I expect there's a message here about "gun control", but we won't go into that.  For now, I hope all of your memories of far-off days of youthful adventure are pleasant ones, untainted by tragedy.  Cherish and re-live them !