Tuesday, March 10, 2009


When I think of watermelon I think about the watermelon that I had as a child.....Melons from Hempstead, Texas....Black Diamond Watermelons. They were fat oblong cylinders with black green rinds and the most amazing color of red flesh. You don't see them in grocery stores now. These melons weighed between 40 and 60 pounds. These were WATERMELONS. Can you imagine the lawsuits that would result from customers trying to pick up one of these babies. The other thing about these melons was that they had a huge heart in the center that was seedless. It was crisp but filled with succulent juice. After a few bites you could scoop juice out of the spoon craters. And then came a ring of black seeds. These were the watermelon seeds that won seed spitting contests.

Although they were wonderful as they were, they became ambrosia when they were submerged in large tanks of ice and water at a temporary watermelon tent set up on some corner in the neighborhood. Straw or sawdust would be the floor and you would sit at long wooden tables with attached benches. Huge slices of melon on tin pie plates would be brought to the table. Boxes of salt clumping up in the humidity of a Houston summer night were on the table. It seems a little simple now but at that time getting to go to the watermelon stand was the highlight of any summer day.

Now we have seedless watermelons. Can you imagine? Sexless watermelons. Some say that they are just as good but I don't think they have the zest, the tastiness of those Hempstead melons.

Now we have little melons and I don't just mean a little smaller. I mean baby melons. The one above was larger than a softball but smaller than a basketball. I really shouldn't complain that they have managed to breed smaller melons because I could hardly carry home a 40 pounder. And I do mean carry because we do walk and carry nearly all of our groceries home from the store. If I could carry a Hempstead melon home, I don't know what I'd do with it. We have a small fridge. As much as I like watermelon, I don't think I could eat a 40 pounder.

I eat these baby watermelons but all of the time I'm thinking back to the tent with the sawdust on the floor and the cold, juicy, sweet, succulent heart of a Hempstead Melon.

Want to know more about Watermelons....especially the Black Diamond Hempstead Melon, click here.


Miguelito said...

This is interesting. I am a Cracker boy, born in Georgia. I´ve never heard of Black Diamond watermelons, but I do like the name.

And I´ve never seen the baby melons, probably because I just don´t pay attention. I don´t like watermelon, and never have. Don´t like the seeds, and I don´t like the taste.

Odd for a Cracker boy.

Billie said...

Miguelito, I'm sure that if you had eaten a melon from Hempstead Texas rather than those Georgia melons, you would be a fan.

Steve said...

Billie -- I am probably wrong, but the small watermelons seem like cull fruit to me -- cleverly marketted cull fruit. My problem may be that, like you, I recall watermelon that was far juicier and richer than the current melons found in the market. I blame mine on old person nostalgia.

Babs said...

Mouth watering post! I remember sitting in a field in Mississippi where my husband's family was from and punching holes in the Stubbs watermelons - famous in that part of Ms. and eating the most luscious fruit that I have ever had - not cold, but warm from the sun. My kids still talk about their time in the fields and haylofts every summer.
Aren't we lucky to have these memories?

pitchertaker said...

Oh, I remember the Black Diamonds, but rather than getting down at the corner stand, we always got ours at the ice house....ice houses that sold ice, cold cases of beer, and other things cold. You'd pull up to the loading dock, tell'm how big a mellon you'd like, they'd bring it out, plug it so you could see how ripe it was before buying it. We even raised a few ourselves on my grandmother's farm in East Texas. We'd cool those in the creek. I lost my taste for watermellon when the stores started selling those long skinny green striped ones. Black Diamond mellows were the best, and nothing else taste as good. P'taker

Billie said...

Steve, the little melons just don't have the "crunch" of the big melons. Maybe a few bites right in the center but then the rest is mushy.
Barbara, I remember family reunions out in the country where we just put the melons in the deepest shade or in the creek until time to cut them.
Frank, I had forgotten about plugging the melons. That was serious business thumping the melon and looking at the plug before you loaded it up in the car. Only Dads were qualified thumpers and could find the best melon from looking at the plug.