Gilmer Free Press

Jeanette Riffle: Watermelon Heaven

The Free Press WV

My husband’s grandpa, Charlie Riffle, raised one of the biggest watermelon patches around. He lived on the Bear Fork and had a melon patch twice as big as our whole garden. For each hill, he dug a big hole, put in a handful of fertilizer, a shovel of horse manure and enough dirt to fill the hole up level with the ground. Then he took more dirt and made a hill like you would for cucumbers and he put the watermelon seeds in that. That would be a lot of work with hills like that all over a big garden. He sold the melons for 3 cents a pound, so a 12 pound melon would only cost 36 cents. He had men coming every Sunday afternoon to buy melons. When they found out that he had good watermelons, they would come to visit and eat all they could hold and then buy one to take home. This was back in the mid 40’s and early 50’s.  He quit growing melons when he came to live close to his daughter and her family at the Shock log cabin. They had a little house there for him to live in so they could take care of him in his old age and Duane’s aunt and uncle didn’t raise melons. Duane said that he helped his grandpa raise a watermelon patch there one time, but it didn’t do too good so they gave up. It was over across the creek from where my brother, Brock, now owns a little piece for a hay field. Duane’s Uncle Ralph Perrine brought in store bought watermelons and hid them under bushes out in front of the cabin to keep them cool. People would take the salt shakers, cut into those melons, go outside, sit on split bottom chairs,  and spit watermelon seeds out on the ground.  There were always chairs out on the grass, by the back porch of the cabin, to sit out there in warm weather.

Grandma Riffle had died ahead of Grandpa and he didn’t stay at the old home place very long after she died. Duane thinks she died about 1954.  We all had feather pillows back then and the feathers formed a crown in her pillow where she lay dying.  Aunt Susie felt it and cut it out of the pillow and she showed it to me one time after I married into the family. I had never heard of anything like that and was trying to figure out what would make feathers do that. She said that her mother was a saint and feathers do that around the head of a saint when they die.

Her name was Sarah Cottrell Riffle. She was a Baptist by faith and went to church when she could but in winter the weather was too bad to walk the distance she had to go to get to church. She read her Bible and lived the Christian life, though.  I have since read about that feather crown inside the pillow of a dying person so I guess there were others that experienced that too.

We have been enjoying watermelon lately. We don’t grow them but Duane brought in a store bought one. My brother, Roger, told us that Grandpa Frank Stewart grew watermelons and he helped. They brought in a hot watermelon one summer day and didn’t wait for it to chill down. They were so hungry for watermelon that they just went in on it and between the two of them, they ate the whole thing.  Roger said he got so sick he threw up and to this day he can hardly stand watermelon. That would do it.

Until next time, stay close to the Lord and just try and enjoy the rest of the summer. We have had a couple sunny days without rain. Maybe our gardens will do better if the rain will slow down.

--> Wednesday, July 11, 2018
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