Sunday, October 09, 2005


(Run originally 4/8/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

When Ramona mentioned strawberry country it sparked some memories.

I think it was around the summer of 1949 that I got my first taste of picking strawberries. They paid us five cents a quart for picking them. It was tedious, backbreaking work for little pay. Mother would take my sister and me out to the strawberry fields early in the morning and pick us up later in the day. Nancy and I did this so we could make money for some little extras for ourselves. I'm sure you remember how little they paid women in those days. Even though mom had a college degree and was working as a dietician, she was still only making about a third of what a man was making. So, if we wanted anything other than the basics, we had to earn it. At ten years of age, there wasn't much you could do to earn money. So it was the strawberry fields for us.

After working the day in the fields, mom, Nancy and I would go to place on the Old Little Rock Highway (it was then the only one) where we would cap and cull the strawberries. Here again, they paid you five cents a quart to cap them, and you could keep the culls. Mom would make strawberry jam out of them. Those were the days you could buy a 48 quart case of strawberries for four dollars. Since we ate all our meals at the hospital, I got all the strawberries and shortcake I wanted. When I was a little older, I would make my shortcake in a big vegetable bowl and use one of the big cans of whipped cream over it. Why I didn't weigh two hundred pounds I don't know. If you remember I was so skinny that, if I turned sideways and stuck out my tongue, I looked like a zipper!

The strawberries produced in White County were the best I have ever eaten. They had just the right acid and sugar content to make your jaws tingle. The strawberries being produced now are huge, tasteless and mostly water. I grow them but I have never gotten the correct soil mix to have them taste like the ones I use to get. Someone told me that they had stopped raising strawberries where they used to; that’s too bad. Another part of the past fades away!

Now, to other things …

"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature." -- Dave Barry

Goes along with my bumper sticker:

I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up!

However, it no longer applies, since I have stopped drag racing with the young kids. The PPF couldn't last forever. If you're trying to figure out what "PPF" stands for, that’s Peter Pan Factor! Another indicator is that I no longer drive 80 or 90 mph on the freeway. Now I just set the cruise control at 70 and let the cars pass me.

It just popped into my head, Ernie, you should write something about some of the cars you have built. Especially your Corvette. Would be interesting reading.

Concerning Bee Rock, I remember that there was a dirt boat ramp down to the water sometime in the late 40's or early 50's. Mom used to take us there on picnics. In those days, it was so much fun; we didn't have all the electronic games or malls to occupy our spare time. With so many things for kids to do today, I don't understand why they are always complaining that "there's nothing to do.” They would really complain if they were somehow transported back to the days of our youth.

Of course, we were inventive and good at entertaining ourselves. I can remember a game we played with knives. You started with your legs spread facing your opponent. You each would throw the knife between your opponents feet trying for the half-way point each throw. If the knife didn't stick up in the ground, it didn't count. When it did, your opponent would have to bring one foot up to the knife. The object of the game was to see who could get their opponents feet together first. This game was never played with sandals on. If your opponent wasn't very good, you ended up with a few nicks in your shoes. What do you think they would do to kids today if they played this game? You’re right: off to detention.

One last Quote: "If you go through a day without learning something new, you have wasted a day" -- Dan Randle

Learning and doing keeps the mind fresh and young!

Tom Pry

The way I heard it was, “Growing older is mandatory; growing up is optional.”

Dan, I’d never argue with your memory, but my mind recalls a game called “Stretch” that worked just the opposite. Two of you faced each other and took turns throwing a knife towards the outside of the other’s feet. The rule here was that your successful stick had to be no farther from the foot than a hand spread ‘way out – like from the thumb to the end of the little finger. If it exceeded that, it didn’t count. Once the throw was adjudged “legal,” though, the person on the receiving end had to stretch their foot out to the knife. Then it was their turn to throw.

The game continued until one or the other was stretched out so far that they fell on their butt.

I remember this in particular because, one day during lunch, it was being played out in front of the high school (can you see knives in high schools today? Can you see a guy going to school WITHOUT a knife in OUR day?). Involved were a guy and, unusually, a gal. The lady shall remain nameless; let it suffice to say that (a) she felt she was the equal of any boy in school at anything, and didn’t mind telling you so; (b) she was of comfortably padded construction, especially below the waist; and (c) she was wearing one of those ultra-tight, long “pencil” skirts. She was of generous enough proportions that she shouldn’t’ve been wearing that skirt and, if she did, she shouldn’t have been playing “Stretch.”

But playing she was, and holding her own pretty well. It didn’t take too long before she and her opponent were at the point where it was obvious the next toss or two was going to take at least one of them out of play.

I’ll confess that I just couldn’t resist. I pulled out a piece of notebook paper and, as the young lady started the penultimate stretch, I put the sheet of paper up behind her ear … and tore it.

I never, before or since, saw a woman move that fast: together came the feet while, simultaneously, her hands moved to her rump to cover what she was just sure was an enormous rip in her overstretched skirt.

All of us onlookers enjoyed that.

Growing older is mandatory, growing up is – in some cases – impossible.

2005 Footnote: Ernie, re Dan’s suggestion about the Corvette. Since you’ve just returned from a couple-or-three days in Eureka Springs with all your Corvette buddies, can we get at least a photo of your marvelous macho machine? The car, I mean.


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