For my Dad’s 70th birthday today, my oldest sister has written a guest post. Thanks, Karen! And Happy Birthday, Dad! We love you!
In honor of my Dad’s birthday I wanted to share the story of the Great Tomato Contest. Dad liked to have a garden every summer. Summer squash and tomatoes were always planted. I am sure that his interest in this endeavor came from his father; William B. Gross. My Grandpa Gross was an amazing gardener.
Every summer his vegetables produced a bountiful harvest. His sweet corn stood 7 feet tall and his tomatoes were gargantuan!
Grandpa with his wicked tall corn.
Seriously gargantuan tomatoes.
They were juicy, red, five-pound monstrosities! Dad’s tomatoes were never quite the same size. If you know my family, you are aware that we are quite competitive. Obviously this has been passed down through the generations because this same competitiveness resulted in the Annual Great Tomato Contest within the family.
The contest was to see who could grow the biggest tomato of the year.
Largest tomato won the title.
This was a contest taken very seriously by the competitors. Great thought and care was given the tomato plants throughout the growing season. Secret fertilizers were applied and special techniques were used to maximize the size of the tomatoes. On an assigned day, the best tomato of the crop was taken to Grandpa’s house to be measured and weighed. This contest had been going on for years with Grandpa Gross always emerging as the winner.
Finally, there came the year when Dad announced that this time he had the tomato that would win it all. On weigh-in day Dad attempted to get everyone in the car in order to be on time. He gently picked the tomato and carefully prepared it for the journey across town. Those of you that have small children know that it can be a time-consuming process to load the family into a vehicle in order to be someplace on time. Also it can be quite stressful.
With gritted teeth, Dad finally got into the front seat and began to back out of the driveway with everyone clamoring noisily in the backseat. I remember that I looked to my side out the car window and saw a reflection of our car in the house window. I thought I saw something red on the roof of the car reflected in that window, but didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make us late.
Dad was almost giddy in anticipation of presenting his prized tomato that was going to top all others that year. We arrived at Grandpa’s house. We piled out of the car and went to see what size tomato Grandpa had grown this year. We thought Dad was behind us carrying his own tomato, but he was still at the car looking in the front seat, back seat, and trunk. He suddenly came into the house and said that he must have forgotten to bring the tomato. It was at that point that I realized that the reflection of something red on the roof of the car was actually the tomato Dad had placed there as he was herding all of us into the car.
um yeah …
It was a long ride home as we pondered what might have happened to Dad’s winning tomato. There was hope that it might still be intact and could be returned to Grandpa’s house to win the contest belatedly. Unfortunately it was not to be. The tomato was found by the side of the road (not intact in case you were wondering). Grandpa Gross was the winner once again!
It has been many years since the Great Tomato Contest, but Dad still enjoys growing tomatoes every summer. Even though he never emerged the winner then, he is a winner to us and we love him. Good luck with your tomatoes this year!
The Birthday Boy with his little boy – many many (many) years ago. Happy Birthday, Dad!