Food Foraging Kids of the 50’s

edible.clover

We didn’t have exotic road-tar-flavored jelly beans in Delhi Hills OH during the greater later 1950’s. Left to discover stuff on our own we pulled grass shoots apart to chew the tender light-green centers. Tiny three-leaf clover growing in the side yard were tangy: only later did we worry about the dog urinating against the wall. Hey there’s an aftertaste on my right-rear tongue. Thankfully it’s starting to fade.

 

A great sneak snack. Also good for jarring a mercury filling loose.
A great sneak snack. Also good for jarring a mercury filling loose.

Did you know that road tar of the 1950’s bubbled when the air temperature rose? Seeing it bubble reminded me of gum and the flavor of licorice. Only a small nugget of tar remains between two molars now, but that oily taste, what is that? Now the bubble experiment gradually fades from memory, so I shall take my tongue out of my cheek. My tongue tip probably found neither tar nor clover. Choose a hot day for collecting road tar. Find a stick with good heft and balance and wrap your tar around one side.  Kitchen matches are good for lighting your completed torch but Zippo lighters work well. Watch for flaming droplets that just might burn your skin.

1954 Topps bubble Gum box

Remember to bring official Topps baseball cards with you for card flipping or combine cards and spring-loaded clothes pin to flip against bicycle spokes. Trade the cards and then carefully store them in your shoebox. Possibly the same box you brought home after having your feet x-rayed. Don’t imagine that nearly every mother in the country would throw the shoebox away when you’re distracted by the new transistor radios.

delhi.centennial

Hey Bill, I want to hear more about Sacred Mountain and Lost City.

Sacred Mountain was not only famous for Indian arrowheads found in dark woods: there’s a difference between soil settled by interlopers and the ancient Indian stomping grounds of memory. Modern terrain marked by cinder-block  footers and solid stone door steps, such as the single remaining dwelling in Lost City. Must draw sketches and construct mental maps for these.

You could find them in a creek, here, there but not everywhere.
You could find them in a creek, here, there but not everywhere.

Hillside Gang ancestors probably sacked this very Lost City. We always blamed that gang for all bully activity. Frontier life at the western edge of Cincinnati: 1950’s.
But what about the food chain Bill? You’re getting lost in pedantry.
Let’s consider Summer at it’s warmest. It’s warmest in the attic on Glenroy but you only go there to attempt sleep during in the summer. It’s much cooler in the backyard under the stars. Why not begin this discussion with the final resort for mid-afternoon snack: Ayds. Marketed as a delicious between meal alternative to a candy bar, now available on YouTube for entertainment and edification.

ayds

When the only snack available is tar on the road, eat these and then place the chewed matter produced into a road-crack. A better use perhaps. My wife Lisa remembers Ayds ads and commercials too, and she’s a lot younger than I.

I’ll tell you about pears now. You could find them in that narrow wooded area between Old Man Hocker’s (not his real name) house and the Mt. Alverno Boys’ Home. An enormously mature pear tree grew there. Do you know the two most important reasons for climbing a pear tree?  To cool down and relax and to eat  pears.

As you approach the pear tree watch for the 1500 bees enjoying what they enjoy best, fruit juice. They’ll sting you plenty if you encroach upon their meal, but you may already know that. Near the top of this tree were branches designed by God for your afternoon comfort.

Remember to leave pears on the ground if bees get there first.
Remember to leave pears on the ground if bees get there first. PSA: Do not pick bee-laden pears from the forest floor, it disturbs the bees and they will disturb you.

The tree crown granted a vantage point on the pond and a glimpse of the barns at the school. The kids at the boys’ home milked cows with modern equipment, the cows licked salt blocks, they enjoyed chewing hay and they were adept at breathing frost-laden air in the winter. Great quantities of it. Cow tongues are as big as New Guinea is hot: Uncle Beer always remembered just how hot, so he repeated that factoid for us as often as possible.

New Guinea 1942
New Guinea 1942

Source for picture above.

Yeah but did you eat the pears on the ground, Bill?

No. And we didn’t eat the bees either. I once found a bee swimming in Sunkist Orange Soda, but spit it out before it could sting any internal organs.

We’re getting bored Billziegler1947, could you just list a few other forage-ready foods so we can get back to the football game?

lincoln-wheat-penny-1956

Return a soft drink bottle for two cents and you can buy Peeps around Easter time, but beware when cashing in bottles: Carl’s on Greenwell (next to the Zenith Radio & TV Repair Shop) returns candy, not coins. Weren’t UDF glass milk bottles worth a fortune? 35 cents?  Inquiring minds need to know. UDF gave away ice cream cones on Halloween.

100 yards of tomato plants, much of it rotting in the field but more than edible and warmed by the sun, wild blackberries and black raspberries near Dolly the horse, chewing tree sap.

What’s next?  Ma and Pa Wagner, radios, shacks, daredevil schemes, farm with barn, storm-sewer explorations and firework fiascos.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Food Foraging Kids of the 50’s

  1. Lovely piece of writing, so rich, and you have just whizzed me back to my own childhood, even though it was the 60’s in England, the tar still bubbled and I loved it. I was absolutely mesmerised. Those long, hot summers when you were kid,they seemed to stretch out forever, I’m sure time was slower then!! We lived on a hill and the heat haze wobbled at the bottom like everything was unreal, a mirage, it was very dreamlike and I used to sit on the curb and watch the tar bubbles, bursting them with a stick and standing on them, inevitably getting some on myself and my clothes, bad,scruffy urchin!!! My mum used to go mad but I still did it, it was just too much fun!! Well, you have sent me whizzing back to all kinds of childhood memories now, one waking up another…who knows where I’ll end up now. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the most kind words, they genuinely inspire me to write more about the landscape of dreams they evoke. Discovering childhood commonality through shared memories is an encouragement that itches my typing fingers. I initially paused when mentioning the tar-play, thinking it might confound or confuse. So your recall of those magically bubbling cauldrons and the call to stomp and stick at them carries the day!

    Like

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