Summer Abundance —
The banner headline chimed success for British and Canadian troops in Europe while in Bloomington war news it was reported that the draft quota was nearly filled and listed the men who had passed inspection and not been granted exemptions. It was also reported that 19 of the men who had volunteered for Battery F had not passed their second physical inspection and were being sent home. In other Bloomington news – the planning of a new hospital building was beginning (the current one then had ten beds), two small fires had been put out by the fire department and there was another injury at a local quarry (this time not fatal).
Several articles and advertisements proclaimed the bounty of Bloomington in the late summer. One ad for the Collins-Woodburn Co. (which may have been located in the 100 block of North College where The Tap Is now) listed an impressive amount of produce, including Tip Top Melons ((a variety not just an advertising embellishment), new corn (of course) and even mangoes. Mangoes? That is, green bell peppers. Don’t believe me? Find an adult whose family has lived in Indiana for more than two generations and ask them what their grandparents called green peppers. There’s a good chance they called them mangoes (Apparently there was a trend in the eighteenth century for calling everything that was usually bought pickled “mangoes” — because fresh mangoes — could not survive long travel times– and, in the early nineteenth-century, an immensely popular pickled cabbage-stuffed-green-pepper recipe that left rural pockets of people in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky calling green peppers mangoes.) My favorite part of this advertisement is the very modern sounding invitation to “Use Your Phone” to get this summer abundance delivered directly to your door. Wartime conservation efforts and labor shortages were about to end home delivery of groceries, for a long time.
Another interesting food related article tells the story of a different variety of summer produce, the Kleckley Sweet watermelon which was then a popular variety. Fred E. Warner, a local (Danville) singing evangelist (perhaps in the same vein as Rodney “Gipsy” Smith, stopped at Bill Kleckley’s farm in Crockett, Texas during his travels and brought back a report of Kleckley’s farm. Warner reported that Kleckley recommended planting the seeds in groups of 6 in hills 8 ft. apart and said that the rinds of the previous years crop made a good fertilizer (he left the rinds and most of the meat of the melon in the field to rot since he raised them for seed, but he let friends, family and neighbors eat all they wanted as long as they left him the seeds.)