Archive for June, 2007

Road to Riches

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

J. W. Smith lived in the largest house in town. Mr. Smith owned the dry goods store and was on my paper route.

Mr. Smith was kind, gentle, friendly and rich. The first three I could handle but the rich part scarred me into avoiding him at all cost. I figured any rich man had to be dodged as if they were from an alien planet. I was half right. One day I had to knock on his door to collect for the paper. He answered the door. I nearly turned and ran. He invited me in; paid for the paper and started a conversation. He was not an alien. He was just a great man even though he was rich. That started a friendship that lasted for the rest of his life.

One day I was brazen enough to ask about life. He answered in a most unusual manner. He said life was a race from the cradle to the grave in quest of success. Some find it; some don’t. When we speak of success we must define success, he said. Success is the search of a worthwhile, personal goal because you decided to do it. For instance, when you get on your bicycle to deliver the papers you have a goal, a purpose, a destination and you always get there. But Saturday mornings when you ride around town you really never arrive anywhere. But he said there is a key to success and I will tell you what it is some day.

I am sure the wise old man knew he had already spilled more wisdom than my timid mind could absorb.
The following months I wondered just what that key might be, Each evening as I loaded my papers and delivered them I thought about his analogy of success, but what I wanted was the key.

I could hardly wait to collect for the paper each month. Horrified I learned Mr. Smith had suddenly died. I was saddened for the loss of what had become a warm friendship, but anxious for the loss of the key to my future.

Some time later his widow called and asked me to stop by. She gave me a letter Mr. Smith and written to me.

He wrote;

Dear Hollis,

The key to success is, you become what you think about. Now don’t think this statement is just a simple answer to a complex problem. Men put little value upon free things. Your body, your mind, your love are all given free and we take them for granted. You rarely give these things a thought. Most men place great value upon things that cost money. Cars, houses, land, business. In fact most think about these things all the time. But the free things once lost can never be regained. Money is cheap and easy to obtain. We can replace things gained with money. Just remember, Have a personal worth while goal, Think about it daily and with this key you will gain any thing you desire.

Respectfully,

J. W. Smith.

The years fled by and I forgot this mans sage advice. Like Jason searching for the golden fleece far and wide, I scoured the world looking for success. Then one day, like Jason, I returned home and going through old papers I found Mr. Smith’s letter. There upon the paper my Golden Fleece was discovered. A key to success, shining brightly it gleamed in the sunlight of my searching mind.. Eagerly I tried the key upon each locked door and found it worked every time.

From Mr. Smith of the faraway past came success. And it can be yours also. Have a personal worth while goal, think about it daily, and with this key you will gain any thing you desire.

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Last week we talked with you here about growing tomatoes. I wanted to share with you the story Zona Galle told me about her tomato garden. Omer, her husband, installed a drip watering system and she said it sure helped with tomatoes. Zona and her husband live east of Liberty Hill, in the country, on a beautiful strip of Central Texas land. Some 25 years ago some yellow tomatoes came up voluntarily. They enjoyed them so much she saved the seeds. She still plants these tomatoes from seeds each year. Often Zona plants heritage tomatoes that ripen blackish, stripped, orange, and yellow . They look a little strange to our eyes, however they have a great taste.

I was talking to my friend, John Steel , who lives out county road 200 on a few acres, about how much fun it has been talking to the folks about gardening. Especially tomatoes. He suggested if I were so wound up about the little red fruits perhaps we should have a contest. A contest to see who could grow the largest tomato by July the Fourth. Well I think that is a champion idea. We talked about how to stage the event and he suggested we have the gardeners bring their tomatoes in to Troy Josephs’ Liberty Hill Information Center for the official weighing in and recording. They can keep the fruit or if they feel charitable, leave the tomato for Troy and his lieutenant, Mike Jacobs, to give to those who need them. Then on the Fourth of July the winner will be announced. As a prize the gardener will win from this paper four Round Rock Express tickets, and a plaque declaring he has grown the worlds largest tomato. Well at least this areas largest, by weight, tomato. That brought up the question of what this area meant. We discussed the question and decided that, This Area, meant all of Williamson County, the northern part of Travis County, the eastern part of Burnet County and the southern part of Lampassas County. And you can draw the line of east west, north south boundaries yourself.
Now for a contest we need an official set of rules. They are as follows:

1. You plant and grow the tomato yourself in your own garden.
2. You have them weighed at the official weight station.
3. You share some of the smaller brothers with your neighbors and friends.
4. You don’t have to be present to win, but you would miss a lot of attaboys.
All of that seems pretty simple and that is the way John Steel wanted to keep it. Fun and great eating. We hope you will join in the contest and show the rest of us how to grow great tomatoes. Now go baby a couple of Big Boys or Early Girls and win the contest. Good Luck.

Alfred Lord Tennyson & The Care & Feeding of Tomatoes

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Spring, and old men’s minds turn gently to the art of growing tomatoes. This statement requires some research. I have spent some time interviewing gardeners around the area and find most old men are indeed serious about the cultivation of tomatoes.

Carl Williams is a champion tomato grower. This year he planted 42 plants. He says he likes tomatoes and enjoys giving them away to friends and neighbors. He feeds his plants once a month with 10-20-10 and Epson Salt. He spreads the fertilizer on the ground, scratches it in then waters heavily. No he does not mulch his garden. Big Boy and Early Girl are his favorites.
George Prestridge has been gardening since he was a young man and enjoys tomatoes most of all. He fertilizes when he plants but not much later. I forgot to ask how many plants he has but plenty for sharing and canning. All his neighbors consider him a Master Gardner.

I met Mike Nappo who lives north on 183 who desperately wants to garden tomatoes but his soil is only this deep. Understanding he is from Upstate New York this must be frustrating. His family were great gardeners and brought up their son on the farm to work hard. Being clever he joined IBM and came to Texas. However that deep ingrained work ethic is trying to come out if he can find a few inches of soil. He said his folks, with a strong Italian heritage, planted Beef Steak and Roma.
I talked to a man from east of Weir in the long gone community of Mozo. He didn’t know where the name came from. There is nothing there except him and the other farmers. He likes to plant Homestead and Fantastic tomatoes. He feeds them when he plants, mulches heavily but does not water the tomatoes the rest of the year. I sure would like to see his garden. He must have a close relationship with the rain maker.

However, I may have to amend the idea of old men and the tomato to include lovely ladies that have reached a certain thresh hold of time. I refuse to guess just what that age might be, nor shall I dare ask.
While waiting for my car to be repaired I got to visiting with a mature lady who is a tomato gardener. Guessing she had a few pots of patio tomatoes in the back yard I asked how many plants she had. Forty she replied. Who helps you I asked and she said she did it all by herself. I was a little surprised to find a lady so excited about the “Queen of Plants” for most of us are old men.
Tennyson wrote that in the spring young men’s mind turned gently to the thoughts of love.
Had he been a few years older I think he might have said……..tomatoes.