The black raspberries, which we always called blackcaps, are ripe. There are only a few bushes near the creek and one up over the hill hidden in a small clearing among the pine trees that my son Donovan discovered a couple of years ago. During the 1950s there was a large patch behind the house. Old Mister Cable, who homesteaded the place, planted them, perhaps in the 1930s. or '40s.
|Blackcap bushes in early spring before leafing out.|
Mom pruned the bushes during the cold days of February and burned the old canes. Then in the summer she picked blackcaps during the hot days of July and August -- getting up around 5 a.m. -- and sold them in flats to a fruit stand for $1.00 a flat (there are 12 little containers per flat - but they were much deeper in those days than they are in the stores now). She made about $100.00 for two weeks of picking, her hands stained, thorns under her fingernails, and sweat bee bites on her face and neck. And with that money she ordered my school clothes out of the Monkey Wards (Montgomery Wards) catalog. It was exciting when my dresses, socks, panties,ribbons, hankies and slips came in a big package. Mom and I admired each item.
|My first day of school, 1952, waiting|
for the school bus at the cross-roads
in my favorite first grade navy blue dress with
musical notes on it. Note the hanky
pinned at my waist.
After she got a job in 1959 as a typist in the Rena-ware office (they made pots and pans) for a $1.00 an hour, she convinced Dad to plow under the blackcap patch, so she would never have to pick them again. They did make great jelly, though.
So, today I picked some and got stain on my hands, but only a few scratches, and I waited until the bush was in shade, so I wouldn't get hot and sweaty and attract biting insects. And I reflected on the will-power of my mother, who wanted to send me to school decently dressed. She had worn hand-me-down dresses that her mother had sewn for for her two older sisters. So, thank you, Mom.