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The Root of Involvement

My grandparents, Sylvester and Otha Powers, owned an acre lot in east Stockton. A former West Virginia coal miner and Missouri sharecropper, he and my grandma lived a life similar to the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. They settled to California in 1936 with family and first worked cannery jobs at Del Monte to get established. A union carpenter by trade, grandpa was also a hobby farmer. He had planted their lot with an abundance of fruit and nut trees – peach, apricot, plum, nectarine, black and English walnut, almond, pecan - and a rich variety of vegetables. He was especially proud of his corn, which he planted to come ripe at the 4th of July celebration.

My earliest and fondest memories were those summer family gatherings where grandpa barbecued chicken and roasted corn. We feasted on the freshest green beans with bacon and almonds, the ripest red tomatoes, and tangiest red onions. Grandma’s pride were her blackberries, her raspberries, and her fruit trees. She baked the finest blackberry, peach, or apricot cobblers and topped them with home churned vanilla ice cream.

Following dinner we played croquet. Grandpa was a master (he always chose the green mallet with the larger green ball) who could finish the course in one turn and go “rover”. He had pinpoint aim and could slam an opponent’s ball off the field and deep into the corn rows or blackberry vines.

Those are blessed memories. My involvement with Wellspring Charitable Gardens has allowed me to revive some of those proud, homegrown traditions. As volunteers, we are growing and harvesting our own memories as we gather to serve the community through Wellspring Counseling Ministries.

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