Squash.....the mere sight sends shivers up my spine. A detestable vegetable in any form. I LOATH squash.
Why? Because a few years of my childhood was spent among ACRES of this stuff! Not kidding....every day all summer long....squash, squash, squash.
When I was in my middle school years my Grandpa A decided it would be a good idea to raise zucchini and sell it..I'm not sure where he sold it. Frankly, I was 12 and didn't care. Because he had grand kids who could walk and not cut themselves with a knife we were free labor in the fields. He had other seasonal workers who would come and go but my sisters and I were there all the time. If I remember he had about 8 acres...maybe it wasn't so much but in my memory the field seemed huge.
Have you ever raised a zucchini plant? They take up lots of room and the vegetable likes to hide so you have to move around the stems to find the squash. The vines and leaves are scratchy and by the end of the day our arms would be covered in red itchy scratches. Remember it was mid summer and we didn't wear long sleeve shirts to protect our arms. We were stupid.
All morning long we picked zuccs. Around noon or 1 we'd finish picking but we weren't done then. After a quick bite in Grandma's kitchen, where we'd try to lounge around or hide from Mom, we'd head to the shed to wash all those zucchini. Grandpa had a machine where we'd pour the buckets of squash on a conveyor that moved them through to get sprayed with water and then poured onto a round table that revolved. We'd surround the table and pick up the 'green death' and wipe off the dirt and blossoms. Those pretty little yellow blossoms at the end of the squash would get wet and slimy and would make a giant mess everywhere. Our hands were soaked and itched with dirt and slime.
After wiping them clean, the zucchini would be sorted by size, packed in boxes and refrigerated until Grandpa drove them off somewhere. Remember, I was 12, I didn't care where they went. As long as they were gone.
And the next day....we did it again because zucchini has to be picked everyday, Sundays too, until they stop producing. Sometimes we even picked them twice a day. I really wasn't very fond of Grandpa in those days.
After a few summers of zucchini, Dad decided we'd raise some squash ourselves. But we switched to acorn squash. These didn't have to be picked everyday but we did have to weed and spray them. When it was time to pick these we had to use pruners. They weren't as itchy and they didn't need picked as often but they were heavy and still needed to be cleaned and we didn't have a machine to help us do it. And those buckets of squash were heavy!
The thing about raising squash, or any vegetable, is that not everything that is picked can be sold at market. Some are too big or small. Some are odd shaped or have damage from bugs or don't have a stem. Stems are important because squash without stems don't last as long before spoiling. So growing up we had a lot of extra squash. And we had to eat a lot of squash.
I have finally started eating zucchini again, and I like it, but to this day I still can't eat acorn squash. A few years ago I tried it thinking, "I'm older. I like vegetables. I can get over the past and eat acorn squash." I bought one, baked it with butter and lots of sugar and dug in. Nope. It was awful and went to the trash.
I've forgiven Dad and Grandpa for all the squash my sisters and I had to pick during our childhood. In fact, it was good for us. It helped instill in us a good work ethic. But I still haven't forgiven any of my parents or grandparents for making us EAT it!
*My mom and other descendants of my great grandfather Wallace Bolinger are getting together at my mom's local town library and sharing stories and photos of relatives in the past. Hopefully Mom will think this story worth sharing. :)