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Pilfered Watermelons Always Taste Better!

Jun 9, 2008
God in his infinite wisdom must have prepared a special place in heaven for watermelons, barbeque, shrimp and homemade banana ice cream! I've tasted watermelons all over the south, but the best ones I've ever eaten were the melons my cousin Jackie and I stole from Big Jim Tatum's watermelon patch in Mississippi when we were kids.

Some memories, like good wine, age better than others. Sometimes when I awake early in the morning, in my mind I can still hear the rooster crowing as he greeted the sun with a boisterous cry and with a swagger in his walk. There are not a lot of roosters left in Mississippi now, having gone the way of hand milking old Bessie the cow and digging sweet potatoes with a shovel and bushel basket.

10 year old boys were perfectly safe on their farms back then without their mothers and fathers watching every move. They didn't have to worry about child predators doing obscene things with their children. Their only concern was that their kids might do something stupid and injure themselves! Some things just don't change.

I recall that we ate a fast breakfast that morning and then headed to the creek with cane fishing poles and a bucket to hold our bait. Making a detour to the barn, we carefully knocked down a few of the huge red wasp nests hanging onto the rafters. They were so high above our heads that when we hit them with the tips of our fishing poles, the wasps buzzing around didn't see us. We scooped the fallen nests up and threw them into the buckets. We would use the larvae to bait our hooks.

Mississippi summers are hot! After fishing for a couple of hours Jackie casually mentioned that he knew where we could find some watermelons that were ripe; he had already sampled one a few days before I arrived. We hid our fishing poles under a sweet gum tree and marched across the pasture to a corn field where we sneaked up on a watermelon patch on the other side of the corn. It was then that I figured out that these melons didn't belong to my uncle.

My cousin elaborated on the fact that a fellow by the name of Big Jim Tatum. He didn't mince words as he described this mountain of a man as huge, mean and someone who hated kids! His one big love was his prize winning, yellow meated watermelons. This was enough to make any kid with a sense of adventure, willing to accept almost any punishment just to get a taste of those wonderful melons.

As we came out of the cornfield, we saw watermelons everywhere. The field was covered in them and there all by themselves in a little corner of the field were the yellow ones. Their skins were a lighter color than those of the red ones.

We didn't have a knife to cut the melons, but that wasn't any problem for two 10 year old boys with time on their hands and a huge craving for watermelon. We didn't even twist the stem off the vine. We just picked up one of those gorgeous melons and dropped it on the ground in the middle of the patch.

It burst open with all its golden goodness laying there for the taking. My cousin and I grabbed handfuls of the most delicious watermelon I have ever tasted! We ate two of those juicy and sugary sweet yellow watermelons and gobbled half-way through a red one before we had to quit due to sheer exhaustion from over eating.

Later that year my cousin slipped and told his parents about our raid on Big Jim's watermelon patch. They made him go to the old man, tell him what we did and pay him for the destruction of the melons. Very solemnly he listened to my cousin's confession and then held out his hand for the half-dollar coin. I guess crime really doesn't pay!
About the Author
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:
http://www.redfishbob.com
http://www.bluemarlinbob.com
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