March 23, 2011 Edition

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Gardening memories

Dewitt Rowlett
Guest columnist

Anyone remember "new potatoes with the jacket on them?" It is just boiled new potatoes with the peel left on but somehow they tasted different than when the peel was removed.

We peeled them after they were cooked and placed them on the plate, added hot oil and salt and it was a meal fit for a king - quick too, just right for the noon meal after a hard morning of picking cotton.

Then on the dinner table that evening straight from my dad and mom's garden were those Irish potatoes I just spoke of, fried in a black iron skillet, or baked sweet potatoes, maybe buttered corn on the cob, or early June English peas (sometimes the English peas were cooked with the early new potatoes in some kind of gravy mmmm). There would also be squash, cucumbers, pickled beets or maybe green beans.

Poor folks eating poor folk food, but I bet I am making ya hungry.

I can close my eyes and almost smell the fresh plowed dirt out in the garden. I can see my dad with that push type garden plow stopping at the end of each row to take out his hanky and wipe the sweat from his forehead. I can see my mom with that galvanized water bucket full of seed potatoes in the early spring dropping them perfectly the same distance apart "how the heck did she do that?"

I look back on those days, and I wonder if there are enough people around who know how to grow and gather a garden like that. I helped back then, but I am not sure I know enough to feed a family of four those fresh veggies like my mom and dad did.

Any gardeners out there?

Dewitt Rowlett of Vilonia is a native of Possum Trot Community, five miles west of Swifton. He writes of his life in rural Arkansas and is gaining quite a fan club of people who are of the nostalgic persuasion. Comments can be sent to him through e-mail at

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