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Jack Zaleski, Published October 13 2012

Zaleski: Rotten vegetables flying everywhere …

When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the early autumn “veggie wars” waged by my young family many years ago, I thought our story was unique. Not so. Responses to the column came in great numbers and with great memories. It seems families through the generations have taken to hurling rotted garden vegetables at each other when frost ended the season and garden cleanup was the chore of the day. Here’s a sample.

A reader from rural Minnesota reminisced:

“Loved your column about your vegetable war. We did it, too – my brothers and me – and I remember how messy and smelly it was. But we laughed and laughed and got the garden all ready for spring afterwards. I remember one year we even had watermelons that never got ripe but were just like cannonballs when we threw them. What a mess! By the way, I sent your column to my big brothers, who are in their 70s now. I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of it.”

An old friend from that time in Devils Lake, N.D., sent an email:

“What great times we had in that big garden of yours. I was just a kid running around with your kids, but even you and Sandi got into it. Remember running through the trees and into the corn field behind your place? I think I was trying to tag you with five-pound zucchinis. Got ya a couple of times, too …”

A Fargo reader called:

“You kidding me? Veggie wars? Did anyone get hurt? Just kidding. Sounds like a great time. I have young kids and a big garden down here near the river. My wife read your column to the kids, and now they want to go for it. Thanks a lot. Just kidding. We had a really fun time, and the kids were an unholy sight when it was over. They loved it, and now their friends are coming over to get in on it. They’re even choosing up teams. At this rate, I’ll never get the garden work done.”

And from my daughter in Vermont, who read the column online, and her

6-year-old triplet daughters:

“Hey Dad, we’ve kept the tradition alive out here. I made the girls put on their bike helmets and we got into it. The girls have strong little arms and you know how competitive they are. Veggies were flying, then they ganged up on me. I didn’t have a chance. Laughed so hard we had to sit down in the smashed veggies. Then it was off to the bathtub, clothes and all …”

And so a late-garden family tradition goes generational. I love it.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.