Monday, June 24, 2013

The 4th

 Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember any spectacular July 4th celebrations in Charlotte when we were growing up.  Yeah, there were lots of backyard fireworks (mostly sparklers at my house and tiny little things called "baby winklers" or something like that) but that was about it.

But, we did celebrate the founding of our country every July 4th when we were growing up.  However, lots of places in the South did not back then; memories of the Civil War still lingered in Parts of the old Confederacy.  The way things are going, I can imagine it's not inconceivable that the day is not far off when it will be illegal to celebrate the 4th of July.

Go ahead, call me crazy.  You would have also called me crazy  in 1954, if I had predicted that in 2013 men would be marrying men and women would be marrying women and that Mexicans who entered this country illegally would have more rights than American citizens by 2014.

But, I digress.

Even if the thought police send me to re-education camp and delete all thoughts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, stomach will still know that July 4th is a very special day!

My daughter in her grandmothers garden

That's because (give or take a few hours) Virginia's local home "grown tomatoes" begin to arrive around that time!  You folks in Charlotte have probably been eating locally grown "love apples" for maybe a week now so you know the joy of biting into that first locally grown tomato each summer!

As Dinah Shore once sang,  "...makes your eyes light up and your tummy say HOWDY!"
Of course, she was singing about "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy," but it's the same wonderful feeling.

Historically, the tomato had a rough time being accepted.  The Spanish were the first Europeans to notice the fruit (yes, the tomato is a fruit, but don't try serving it in "fruit salad") growing in Mexico sometime in the 1500's. The Aztecs called it "Tomatl."  The Italians later called them "pomi d'oro," or golden apples...which leads one to believe that the first ones were yellow tomatoes.

A myth grew up, and word got around in Europe and the American Colonies that the tomato was Poisonous.  It may have been started by a Barber/Doctor/Surgeon and certified nut named John Gerard who wrote a book in which he stated that people died from eating tomatoes.

Actually, though, some did.

Not long after that the tomato went from being called "the Love Apple" (it was thought to be an aphrodisiac) to being referred to as the "poison apple."

But the truth is that the people who died after consuming tomatoes were generally wealthy Europeans who used pewter plates, which were high in lead content.  Because tomatoes are so high in acidity, when placed on that kind of tableware, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning. No one made that connection back then, so the tomato became the culprit.

The tomato has had a rough life. I know of no other fruit that has been called so many names, most of them not particularly flattering:  Love Apple, Poison Apple, Golden Apple,  Nightshade, Mandrake, Fruit, Vegetable (incorrect) there was even a movie made  in 1978 called "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," in which giant red blobs of the fruit terrorize the country and the narrator says, The nation is in chaos!  Can nothing stop this tomato onslaught?"

Well, that may be.  But it sure ain't the tomato's fault.


Time now for my favorite Guy Clark 

Be sure to click on "Skip the Ad" if you're asked. You musical "purists" might want to ignore the "out of tune" violin (although it might be a viola)  However, Hillbilly fans like me...feel that it ads "authenticity,"