Vegetables Victorious

Gardening misadventures thwart Aunt Dorothy’s patriotism.

| July/August 2007

As a child of baby boomers, I was born several years after the hostilities of World War II were over, but I remember well my family’s stories of Aunt Dorothy’s Victory Garden.


Dorothy and her husband, Jack, weren’t actual relatives, but it was a mark of the respect my family felt for theirs that we referred to them as if they were another aunt and uncle to us. Aunt Dorothy was “to the manor born,” as my mother liked to say of her wealthy and cultured friend, while Uncle Jack, a decorated World War I veteran, seemed like just a big old teddy bear to me.


When everyone was urged to do their part in the war effort, Aunt Dorothy decided a Victory Garden would be her patriotic contribution. Never mind that their full-time servants had been called up to serve in the armed forces or work in the factories. She didn’t trouble herself with worry that she had never gardened before. Aunt Dorothy would have a Victory Garden.


Uncle Jack was too old to serve in the Second World War, but he did his part by running the state police force. He transformed that agency with the discipline and professionalism he was famous for, but he was unavailable to help Aunt Dorothy with her Victory Garden. She preferred it that way.


If I ever saw Aunt Dorothy dressed in anything but crisp tailored suits, matching veiled hats, pearl chokers and white gloves, I can’t recall. She might have donned a garden party hat and work gloves when she went out to spade up a section of her lawn for her Victory Garden, but I doubt she had any other type of clothing to wear.


As luck would have it, Aunt Dorothy’s first attempt at gardening produced a bumper crop of green beans. Thrilled by her success, she decided to can as many as she could. She had read that improperly canned green beans can be toxic, so she decided she would use her cook’s enormous pressure canner to do the job right.

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