My mother (b: 1910)
tells this story of being a small girl in Deadwood, SD around
Every year, a watermelon farmer would
open up his fields at the end of the season so that anyone and
everyone could have all the watermelons they could carry.
My mother, then about age 5, and her
elder brother, probably 6 or 7 years of age, started out
with their little wagon to bring home as many watermelons as
they could carry.
After picking all the watermelons they
could possibly stack on their wagon, they set out for home, but
dusk was approaching. The wagon was heavy and it was all the
two of them could do to pull it together.
As it got darker and darker, the
coyotes began to howl and the two kids were frightened. At
each howl, one or the other or both of them would give the
wagon a jerk to tug it faster and, with each jerk of the wagon,
a watermelon would fall off. At first, they tried to pick up
the watermelons that hadn't broken, but after awhile, all they
wanted to go was to get home safe and sound.
By the time they managed to get home,
they had only two melons left in the wagon and instead of
having kudos heaped on them, they were sent to bed without
dinner and especially without any watermelon.
Jean and Elwood Fairweather in Deadwood, SD circa
There is a post script to this
story. -- Many years later, my family (then living in
Pennsylvania) decided to visit Deadwood, SD. Lo and behold,
"Watermelon" Smith was still there in the 1960s. And you know
what? He gave us a watermelon!