When I was a child, during World War II, President Roosevelt asked families to plant Victory Gardens. These were really vegetable gardens intended to assist mothers in planning meatless meals. Meat was rationed and the government was pushing “Meatless Tuesdays.”
My parents were very patriotic about the war effort: We planted a Victory Garden and observed Meatless Tuesdays. Often we observed other meatless days, but that probably had to do with economics.
Once the planting was done, working in the garden, i.e., hoeing and pulling weeds, fell to the children. I was the middle of five siblings (until the baby boomer came along post-war). This was not a fun place to be. I was constantly faced with either “You’re old enough to … (insert chore), or “You’re too young to …(fill in a fun activity). I was deemed old enough to help in the garden.
I have to say right here that gardening was a chore I hated for two reasons. Texas is known for its 100 degree summer days and I’m afraid of spiders and snakes. And in Texas, where everything is bigger, the spiders are tarantulas.
My mother told us not to get too near a tarantula (as if!) because they can jump and they are poisonous. I imagined a huge furry arachnid that could leap the length of a football field and kill me with a touch, no bite necessary.
I don’t remember actually working in the garden very often. Now that I have had some parenting experience, I’m sure Mother decided at some point that any minimal help I might be wasn’t worth hearing me scream at every stick and dirt clod. She sent me to the porch to shell peas and snap beans. I was good at that.