I've got watermelon on my mind. Thanks to my friend Linda O'Connell, a superb writer who's been published in just about everything except the Book of Mormon. She wrote about watermelon on her blog a week ago. Here's part of what she said.
" ...Sam the Watermelon Man. He had a watermelon stand on Natural Bridge in North St. Louis when I was a kid. He hung a string of bare light bulbs that auto dealers used to have on their lots. He sliced those oversized oval shaped melons into eighths and sold them 50 cents a slice to families who sat at old wooden picnic tables. That was the sweetest, ice cold watermelon."
So Linda made me think about Sam and those great, ice cold watermelons he sold. They were Black Diamonds. You don't see them very often now. As a guy at Kirkwood Market told me, "They don't travel well." One of the best parts was the seeds. Big, black seeds that you could spit on the dirt floor in his stand. (Sidenote: I used to have a parrot that sat on my shoulder when I ate watermelon. She waited for the seeds.) Those watermelons were real watermelons. Not like that seedless variety today that is an abomination of nature. Jerry Seinfeld once asked, "What do you think they plant to get seedless watermelons?"
Back to Sam. Dad would take my brother and me to Sam's during the summer, and watch them cut into the thick, dark green skin, reveal that beautiful red flesh, while pieces of ice and cold water ran down the sides. Then slapped onto a paper plate, which we carried to a table and dug in. It was just as special as sitting in the family car parked around Pevely's fountain in Clayton, eating a gold brick sundae. But Sam was unique. His was the only watermelon stand I was aware of, at least in my world. Sam's last name was Zvibleman. I know that because I went to high school with his son, Irv. He was a year ahead of me, graduated U. City in 1952. As I remember him.... and this was a long time ago ...Irv was not a big guy physically, had kind of a "tough guy" attitude, stocky, a somewhat cocky look on his face, hair over his eyes. If he had been an actor, he would've been cast as one of Tony Soprano's hit men with a ten-word vocabulary. I'm sure I've characterized him all wrong. But he was the son of Sam the Watermelon Man. And that elevated him. Nobody else had a dad who could slice a watermelon like Sam. Maybe Irv could too. I don't know. I never saw him do it. I don't even know if he's still alive, or if he's walking through that Great Watermelon Patch in the Sky.
I still love watermelon. I thank Linda for reminding I we need to get one, as soon as we finish our cantaloupe and honeydew. Maybe sooner. See you at the stand.
By the way, if you want to read some excellent writing, check out Linda's blog, Write From the Hearthttp://lindaoconnell.blogspot.com/.