Aunt Kathyrn: We had more than enough…

Yorba Linda, 1920.

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It was always interesting to go to Aunt Kathryn’s. She always had something different going on – or so it seemed to me!

Although she had no children she seemed to know what children thrived on. Yet it was really just the way she lived. She lived on an orange/avocado ranch at the base of some foothills. In those days the closest town was Yorba Linda, California and was by stretching your imagination maybe  2 blocks long on!

So even though it was Depression days there was a wealth of experiences to enjoy and learn from.

First there was Pal – a gentle well bred police dog who among his other talents had been trained to go to the bottom of the driveway (at least a block) to fetch the newspaper every day. He courageously put up with all our loving him. You’d think he had been raised around kids!

We could always climb over the fence and go up in the foothills. No one ever warned us about snakes or anything else and we never  encountered snakes or anything else!

The idea of spending money for a pumpkin to make a Jack-o-lantern was unheard of, but we had almost an endless supply of gourds just for climbing part way up the hill. Gourds made great Jack-o-lanterns and we could carve as many as we wanted!

Besides citrus and avocado trees there was at least a magnolia and a persimmon tree near the house. The persimmon tree had the larger, longer fruit which are squishy when ripe! They were not quite a kids idea of good eating. (They were sweet so it must have been the squishiness.)

Mom was always happy to take some home. When we were at school mom made a steamed persimmon pudding which we all ate with gusto and were very happy with dessert. Mom served it with a lemon sauce.      (The strange things we do remember!)

One time when we visited, Aunt Kathryn was drying persimmons with out a dehydrator. She took a piece of string long enough to more than go across the room and periodically tired on a persimmon by its top. When it was full she strung the string across between two nails in a warm upstairs room to dry.

The results were great, sweet and chewy! Ummm…

Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Henry must be part of the reason I always felt like we had more than enough even though times were supposed to be tough!

You just didn’t leave the ranch without some windfalls or seconds. Seconds were perfectly good food knocked off the tree by a Santa Ana wind or they were too small or differently shaped. The taste was great. After all, they were tree ripened.

One time Aunt Kathryn took us up in the foothills to the cactus. She had brought along a pair of work gloves and a paring knife.

She had noticed Mexican families going up to the cactus.  Finally she asked why the cactus interested them. They showed her the cactus apples and showed her how to prepare them. Now she was showing us. So she put on the gloves, cut off a cactus apple and peeled it to so there were no thorns. Then we each had a bite.  It was really good!

Years later I learned some people eat the cactus pad. When they have cut out all the thorns the pads are cut into strips about the width of green beans. They are cooked like green beans.

Looking back I can only marvel at how fortunate we were to have such good friends and great memories!

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