Cabbages and Onions

Cabbages and onions.  Those two vegetables forever remind me of my Grandpa Clevenger.  Not so much the sight of them, but the smell.  His barn smelled of cabbages and onions with a hint of apples.  He sold vegetables and some fruit out of his barn that opened up into the road.  Even after he had left the property and before it was sold (and I think torn down), the barn smelled of cabbages and onions.  He had been working out of that barn for so long, the scent was a permanent part of the wood and atmosphere.  What wonderful memories those two vegetables invoke.

I loved my Grandpa.  He was 81 when I was born.  He was bald, skinny, had incredibly blue eyes and smelled of soil and country air.  He always seemed to be smiling about something.  My favorite thing was to jump up and sit in his lap.  By the time I was six or seven, he couldn't handle that anymore.  It saddened me, but I learned to be content with just sitting next to him or following him around.

He had a very small farmette, probably about an acre.  The patch of ground in which he raised his vegetables was nothing more than a really big garden, but he knew how to get the most produce out of that area.  There was also a small apple orchard and a permanent spot for rhubarb, a spot for corn and another spot with blackberry vines.  In one corner of the property, my Dad's Mom had a flower garden.  It was not tended in my memory-she passed away when I was about 2 years old. There were so many places to explore and hide.

Visiting Grandpa was my only real exposure to rural life as a child.  I grew up in a city.  The first time I ever saw a cow was at the zoo.  Yes, even though I am Kansas born and bred, I did not grow up on a farm!  Grandpa's place was on the southern edge of a small Nebraska town.  The town was about a quarter mile long and maybe 3 or 4 blocks wide.  The grocery store was an old building with a wide wood-planked floor and had the same kind of feel as Grandpa's barn.  So many decades of living leaving its mark forever. 

Grandpa was moved out of there when I was about 13 or 14.  I am certain my memories of the place are skewed by youth, but the memories of Grandpa and my Dad's family are real enough.  After he passed away, at the age of 99 years and 8 months, I realized I had so many questions to ask him; so much I wanted to know about him.  Some of my questions have been answered through genealogical research.  Those answers have only led to more questions.  One day, when it is my time to go, I will be able to jump up into his lap again and have forever to get to know the man I call Grandpa.