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Column: Homegrown ’maters are best

Posted: June 7, 2018 1:30 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I decided, after a 30-year absence from any sort of involvement with agriculture, to attempt to grow my own tomatoes.
I have a thing for tomatoes. Not the kind you ordinarily find at your grocery store that have been grown in some contrived environment and shipped from miles away.

I am speaking of the kind of tomato somebody grows in a garden, the “home-grown” tomato, hallowed be its name.

Home-grown tomatoes are so delicious, they once inspired a songwriter to pen this line: “ain’t but two things in the world worth havin’ and that’s true love and home-grown tomatoes.”

I think the absence of home-grown tomatoes in people’s lives has been responsible for a number of the world’s problems.

If somebody had regularly come around with home-grown tomatoes for Hitler, he probably wouldn’t have decided to attempt to take over the world. It’s simply too difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.

If Hitler had had home-grown tomatoes, maybe he would have sent a few over to the Japanese leaders, who would have forgotten all about Pearl harbor, and there wouldn’t have been a World War II.

And if there hadn’t have been a World War II, perhaps there wouldn’t have been a need to develop nuclear weapons, and the world would be a much safer place today.

(Can home-grown tomatoes survive a nuclear attack? I’m checking into that.)

If everybody had home-grown tomatoes, there likely wouldn’t be a drug problem today, either.

I’ve never been high on cocaine, but I can’t believe it’s any better than the rush one gets from cutting up a juicy home-grown tomato and putting salt and pepper on the resulting slices and then gobbling them all up -- caring not how much juice that rolls down the chin and onto the shirt.

I firmly believe that if drug pushers would grow themselves some tomatoes and hook their buyers on them, they could get out of the business of selling illegal substances.

There are some markets that sell home-grown tomatoes, but I decided they’re not the same as the tomatoes I might get by growing them myself.

The last time I did anything remotely connected with agriculture was when I was 12 and my mother dispatched me to our garden to fetch a basket of green beans for our dinner, ignoring the fact that I was supposed to meet my boyhood friend and idol, Wayman C. Wannamaker Jr., a great American, for an afternoon of swimming and fantasizing about Kathy Sue Loudermilk, the fifth grade sex symbol.

While out amongst the green beans, I concluded that anything involving dirt was not for me.

But as the years passed, and my feeling for home-grown tomatoes increased, I began to have second thoughts about my pledge to avoid personal involvement with agriculture.

I thought to myself, “What if I had my own tomatoes growing in my own backyard?”

I bought a hoe and dug up some ground. I planted some tomatoes. And they are growing.

When I pull the first one, ripe and red, from its vine, it will be a special moment.

As a boy, I dreamed of Kathy Sue Loudermilk. As a middle-aged man, I dream of home-grown tomatoes.

To tell you the truth, mellowing hasn’t been that bad an experience after all.

(Lewis Grizzard was an award winning and much beloved Southern writer and syndicated columnist. He passed away in 1994.)


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