Sunday, August 1, 2010


Thomas, Gerda and Claudia 1950

This is a picture of my parents and brother Tom and I. It was taken in our back yard. I am thinking it was the summer of 1951. Because my brother was born in November of 1950.

My thoughts now are, who took the picture and why are we both looking at my dad. He must have said something funny or crazy to get us to look at him like that.

My father always planted a large garden. He told me that his grandfather, also Thomas Dowd, always had a large garden and he would walk to his house and he would give him vegetables to take home.

Dad had two plots, upper and lower. In the lower he would plant tomatoes, green onions, beets, cabbage, lettuce, and beans. In the upper garden he had asparagus and raspberry bushes, and at the property line a line of Concord grapes growing on a wire fence. He also planted peach, apple and plum trees. The apples were made into apples sauce and plums were canned. The peaches did not seem to grow well, or there were not enough for canning.

They canned everything they grew. Mom and dad would spent a lot of time in the late summer and early fall in a sweltering kitchen preparing the vegetables, cleaning the bottles, and washing the rings for the Ball Jars.

In early fall we would go to a Farmers Market and buy a bushel or two of peaches, apples, pears and more tomatoes. I had the honor and privilege of working in the kitchen. I hated every minute of the drudgery.

I remember blanching tomatoes and peaches and taking off the skins in preparation for putting them in jars. A sugar syrup solution was made and put over the fruit. I guess boiling water was used for the vegetables.

They would cook them in a large water bath or in a huge pressure cooker. They knew which had to be sterilized in what cooker. After that was done for the day I would hear the lids of the jars popping as they permanently sealed.

We would have produce all autumn, winter and spring. Then in the summer the process would begin again. After my father died, I found homes for all that equipment. I think my friends really like what I gave them.

I do not do any canning myself, but my sisters do. I guess it is because I was exhausting from canning at an early age.

1 comment:

  1. I used to do canning when my daughter was small. She would help me pick peas or apples or whathaveyou and we would spend the next day canning up jars and jars of produce. I would get together with other young moms, and we would pick all the grapes off the local farmers barn, and then spend the entire next day canning over 100 jars of concord grape jam. We would each go home with a two or three cases of jam for our family and for gifts, and one case for the farmer. It was hard and exhausting, but especially HOT in the dog days of August to have all that boiling water in the kitchen. But we did it because we HAD to, and we had chosen to stay home with our kids and take the pay cut. Now my husband asks why I don't do it anymore and I roll my eyes! My daughter reminisces about the smell of grapes and all the Moms together in the kitchen. But, if I don't HAVE TO, I won't!