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This year's ’maters pass the tasting test here

POSTED: September 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Reports are that some people are shying away from tomatoes in view of the federal government's report that they might have caused some to be sick, having eaten a salmonella sandwich instead of a genuine homegrown tomato sandwich.

At last report the feds are backing off that claim, saying that it could have been something else that caused the sickness. A lot of help that is to farmers who have fields of tomatoes trying to find a market.
We do not have teams of scientists at our disposal to check the validity of such claims. We wouldn't know a salmonella from a salami. But having already inhaled about a dozen tomato sandwiches so far this season, we're still standing ... and standing in line for more.

Our tomatoes have been the homegrown variety from Mississippi to Maysville, most of them accumulated from friends or the farmers' market. The only thing we did differently this season was to wash them a little more thoroughly. Otherwise, slice them up, slide them between two slices of bread slavered with a generous supply of mayonnaise, pepper them profusely and enjoy.

Have plenty of napkins or paper towels available, and if your sandwich begins to fall apart so you have to end up finishing it with a fork, just all the better.

Apparently customers and farmers at the Hall County market aren't too timid about tomatoes. A couple of weeks ago, only one farmer had tomatoes, some of them still green, and they went like ... well, homegrown tomatoes.

As the days passed and the summer showers increased, they became more plentiful, and they were selling as high as $2 a pound, and worth every penny.

• • •

Footnote on the chimneys: The story in The Times recently about chimneys from long ago standing as lonely reminders of the past around the county certainly brought back memories to a lot of people.

The chimney that stands behind The Times is all that's left of a cabin that was part of the Carter estate, according to Rives Carter, grandson of Oliver Carter, whose family lived in the Green Street home.

The cabin was a center of activity not only for the family, but for neighborhood children. Rives remembers playing pingpong and other games. A formal garden, small pool and tennis court also were behind the main Carter house. Cookouts were common around the cabin. The Carters had a pony, which their children, grandchildren and friends rode.

Happy Garner Kirkpatrick, who lived across the street, recalls children playing in the woods behind the cabin, digging in an old spring and "fighting World War II." Families had picnics, and children waded in a pond and splashed in a fountain. Neighborhood friends put on plays in the cozy cabin, which was heated by a kerosene heater in winter.

Ann Dewitt George lived next door to her Carter grandparents and has pleasant memories of playing with her cousins as children. They would conduct a camp in the woods, sculpture with mud from the creek and take dancing lessons in the cabin from Lillian Jacobs.

The Times sits on the site where the Carters, W.E. Dewitts, Charles Strongs, Jim and Addie Rudolph lived when Green Street was mostly residential. In the 1940s and '50s, neighborhood children loved to skate in the street because it was so smooth, Ann George said. Imagine that today.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times and can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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