Hand Melons

This story begins with Margie’s Market on Whalley Ave. I can remember going there with Mom. There maybe no other market on the planet where you are not allowed (I’ll say it again, not allowed) to pick out your own fruit and vegetables. Margie had to select for you. You told her want you wanted… 6 peaches. Fine. She would go over to peaches and pick out six for you. You could not touch the fruit before hand to, perhaps, inspect the ripeness. No. She chose. And while Mom put in her request Margie was sure to keep a watchful eye on me, lest I get too close to the baskets & trays of produce.

Perhaps it is only fitting that in a prestige market like Margie’s she would be able to source fruits and vegetables from select boutique purveyors. And such was the case with her cantaloupes! Her cantaloupes came from a farm from who-knows-where. The little sticker on the melon identified it as “Hand”. And the melons were insanely good! A brilliant green inner rind. Their size approached the size of a honeydew. Flavor could not be beaten.

As case would have it, sometimes there was a disruption of availability. And as you can imagine, Mom was not going to take this inconvenience lying down. And considering this was in the day before the internet, my guess is that Mom confronted (maybe approached is the better word) Margie about revealing the source of these magnificent melons. How much cajoling she had to do to gain this important piece of information I can’t say. But she did.

And one day, she enlisted Sherman Grant as her confederate, and they drove up to Greenwich, NY to the Hand Farm. If you didn’t know, Greenwich, NY is well northeast of Schenectady and south of Montreal. She loaded up the trunk of the Caddie with cases of Hand Melons and drove back to New Haven.

I’m confident she told Mr. Hand that she traveled all that way because the melons were worth taking the extra step for (or in this case driving 7 hours round trip). She may have left the impression that she was a fruit seller, or was there on behalf of Margie. I can’t say. She had pulled stunts like this before. And, just guessing, I think she got a better price.

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