I’m only three-fourth done with my strawberry pies, and about one-fourth done with the bread I decided to make at the last possible minute.  So I thought of posting only my title, leaving you to come to your own conclusions.  But I had to prove my point.

Remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about hospitality and I said that whenever I venture out into the country stores, people dissect my ancestry?  Just in case you didn’t believe me, let me tell you about my morning.  In the interest of sensitivity, I’ll change a few details, but I assure you I’m not making anything up.

With perfect confidence, I set out this morning to find strawberries.  I had gotten some from Bullard’s in Elkhart previously, but they got theirs from Michigan and I was hoping to find home-picked ones. I decided to head out to the country to an Old Order Mennonite stand where I felt sure I could buy strawberries picked that morning from a patch a few hundred feet from the stand.  It was nearing 80 degrees, so speed was of the essence, and I think I completely forgot my hospitality goals.  I was planning to buy a flat, and throw the extra ones in the freezer to hone my domestic skills.

The first place I stopped had strawberries.

“Can I buy a flat?” I asked.

“What’s a flat?” the man asked me.

After determining that they were only selling by the quart, I selected a few boxes.

“We might get some more in around 1:00,” the man said, dashing my theory about the patch close by.

“Who do you get to grow them?” I asked.

“Michigan,” said the lady, smiling.  “Now, do you think I could guess where you belong?”

Side note: what’s with Michigan?  Does not plowing snow off the roads in the winter somehow lead to a better strawberry crop?

To the lady, I said–pleasantly, I believe–“You can try!”

“Would you be Virginia Hoover’s daughter?”

“I’ve heard that a lot,” I said, “but she’s my aunt.  My mom passed away.”

“Oh, you must be Katrina,” she said.  “I was your mom’s age.”

“Yes, I am,” I said.

I pulled out my card, and moved it toward the credit card machine. I was deflated about the strawberries heritage, but not in despair.  They looked decent.

“Oh I’m sorry, we can’t take cards today,” the lady said, pointing to a hand lettered sign.

Ooops.  I had run out of the house without anything other than plastic.

At the second shop, I asked, “Do you have strawberries?”

“By the quart,” the man said.  “They’re there in the cooler.”

I should have turned and walked away at the phrase “in the cooler”.  Fresh strawberries don’t need to be in a cooler.  I peered at them, and sure enough, they were pitted with dents and soft spots.  But what?  I couldn’t think of any other location and I had to have some.  I picked a few out and took them to the counter.

“You can take a card, right?” I asked.

“Not today,” he said.  “The machine is down.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” I said, ready to walk away again.  The berries were really lacking anyway.  I didn’t even ask where they were from.

“You can send a check,” he said.  “Just give me your name and address.”

I agreed.  I did need berries.

“Now when you say ‘Lee,'” the man said, “my wife went to school with a Lee.”

I had completely failed to account for the 100% increase I would have in family heritage questions now that I’m married.

I answered pleasantly–I think I did–but there were other customers waiting on the man so I didn’t want to chat too long for their sake, not to mention mine.

“Ah, yes, he’s my husband’s brother,” I said.

“I see!” he said triumphantly.

I picked up my strawberries and began to back away from the counter.

“Thank you very much!”

“And let’s see, didn’t someone in your family marry a girl from Fort Wayne?”

“Oh yes, that’s my nephew,” I said.

By now, the other customers had been standing there waiting for what seemed like a long time.

Still, he leaned past the cash register to give me a parting piece of genealogy, with deep satisfaction.

“Those girls are nieces to my sister!”

I rest my case.

My pies and bread are waiting.  Perhaps, too, I’ve proved my original point that I need to be reminded to slow down, to not be in such a hurry, maybe to buy strawberries before the day you want to make pie so you have more time?  I don’t know.  It is Father’s Day, after all, so perhaps it’s a good weekend to talk genealogy.

Happy Saturday 😊

P.S. I did find a few more berries at Sweet Corn Charlie, which were better, but I still ended up pitching quite a few. Where does a person find them, I wonder?

Maybe we have to move to Michigan.

22 thoughts on “Strawburied”

  1. I’m chuckling, probably because I can relate. On more than one occasion a seemingly stranger has approached me in a local grocery store and told me that my son looks just like his dad. “Ummm, should I be creeped out that you know my son’s dad?” 😂 Good luck with the pies. I’m sure they will be well worth the effort (and harrassment)😉

    1. This one reminds me of comments my mother got about one of my brothers when he was small. Various times people (not strangers) would say he looked like his grandfather. But when she asked which grandfather, the answers were rather equally divided between the two grandfathers.

  2. My maiden name was unusual, so if I got asked about it I generally knew the folks involved. Then I married and moved to Kansas where my married name was one of 3 of the most common in our community. So I had 2 strikes before I started 1) a very common name and 2) lots and lots of them! My standard reply was “I’m married to a N, but moved into the community, so I’m not very familiar”
    “Well, who are your in-laws? There was no escaping till they told me in detail how they were related and/or how the person in question might be related.☺️
    It became a game. Could I go somewhere and not get the Menno game played? But to be fair it wasn’t just the plain community, it was at the grocery store, doctor’s office, anywhere I said my name or they saw my check.
    It still happens, but not nearly as much since the community has really grown in the last 30+ years since I’ve been here.

    1. Interesting! For a Mennonite name, “Lee” is a bit less usual than Hoover so I think it gets people’s attention.

    1. Yes Dad, that’s what’s spoiled me for all the others I guess. Happy Fathers Day!

  3. While chuckling over your dad’s comment, I’m thinking of the day I was shopping at a local Mennonite-owned store for white shirts for the men here to wear to your wedding. I don’t remember ever seeing the cashier before. As I was checking out, she commented, “Because of present health issues, I keep wondering if one of my parents will choke to death like your mother did!” Wow, not only did she know me! But she knew another thing or two about me!! Sure makes me wonder what other people “out there” know about me and I have no clue who they are!

  4. Yes Katrina, WI has amazing strawberries! And if your husband is as great as mine, he will even pick them for you. 😉 Just saying! Thanks for the good laugh.

  5. Sandra Miller

    Well, lady, in case you have not learned this yet, the reason people ask you questions about who you are, who you are related to, it is because they think you are nice and want to make your acquaintance. While many young people consider this process the Mennonite Game, I can assure you it is common in small communities where most people know each other. We have a business retailing produce, also. I have seen our customers play the same game – the only difference is they were not Mennonites, They asked the same questions Mennonite ask each other. So, I am suggesting you slow down and learn how to play this game as skillfully as they do. You will learn something very interesting – eventually – people are very interesting. If nothing else you may end up with a gut-wrenching belly laugh!

  6. Part of the Michigan thing is the soil there. Strawberries need well draining soil to do well. Michigan has very sandy soil.

    My husband’s grandfather (born and raised near Muskegon, Michigan) always grew a big crop of strawberries. A favorite early summer trip there produced strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, strawberry ice cream etc., etc., etc. every time! I think fresh picked, warm strawberries though are probably the best no matter where they are grown. Too bad that pick your own places are almost a thing of the past. It makes a great outing for young children and grown-ups too.

    1. That’s interesting! We have sand in our community garden so I wonder if we shouldn’t plant a few plants for next year.

  7. We got our strawberries from a patch in Abbeville. They were big and beautiful and so delicious! I could have eaten myself sick on them! So… maybe you could move south??? 😉
    Love ya friend!!

  8. I know this is a little late but there is a nice patch in Goshen on 15th St. off of College Avenue. Yoder’s U-Pick Strawberry Patch. You can find them on Facebook. I picked a few and also got 2 flats already picked. So now you know for next year….The weather was very bad for berries this year also. Yoder’s may actually still have some if you still want some.
    Thanks for the laughs on the Mennonite game. I try not to tell people what my maiden name was because I don’t want to explain who or where I come from..:)

  9. Kathryn Swartz

    I always enjoyed playing the name game too, and when CLP tours would come through, I would talk to them for our dept. Sometimes I was busy and didn’t want to chat long… other times I didn’t mind. Sometimes they would ask who I was, and one lady even tried to connect Shen Valley Rohrers with PA Rohrers. I don’t mind being related to those Lancaster folks, but it goes way back, so I said, “We do connect, but my ancestor moved down here about the time of the Civil War. Some of his children are buried in the Hershey cemetery. I thought that would stop that conversation. Nope. She said, “Oh yes! I’ve seen where they are buried.” I said, “We just won the Mennonite game!” (I guess.)

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