In a Pickle
A Family Farm Story
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, Other Works by the Author, Copyright
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Several years ago I was having dinner with my daughter, Sue. Shesuggested the idea for this book, having heard my “pickle factory”stories since she was a little girl. Sue, who is now a sixth gradechapters as it took shape. My son Steve, who is a staff photogra-suggestions for improving one of the later versions of the book....
1 Pickle Patch
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...took off his straw hat and rubbed his sleeve across his forehead—He hadn’t seen the pickup before. He knew all the neighbors’vehicles—their cars, trucks, and tractors—and this looked toosped past Stewart’s place and continued north. A fine dusting ofleaves of the oak trees that grew on both sides of the road. It cov-...
2 Birthday Party
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...bors said they should throw a party for him at the country school.Isaac wasn’t much for parties—wasn’t much for having anybodycall attention to him. He preferred to be at home on his 160 acres,ing some time fighting in the Civil War. Isaac’s wasn’t the bestmighty droughty. Crops did best if it rained every week, and any-...
3 Pickle Factory
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...fast table one morning a few weeks after his birthday party. “Bepickin’ cukes in a few days. Blossoms all over the place and a fewlittle pickles peekin’ out here and there. Yup, gonna be a goodand scarcely a week went by that the Link Lake Gazette didn’t in-son early. Growing season late. Nothing was ever just right with...
4 First Cukes
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...for the arrival of the first cucumbers, which would signal the startof the pickle season. Johnson had told him that Jake Stewart’scumbers (the smallest, called gherkins, up to an inch-and-a-halffour days before there were any more to harvest. Leave the littlestmorning, to set up the office and put in order the books that John-...
5 Grist Mill
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...gathered a half-mile away at the Link Lake Grist Mill. The mill,made them sleep better at night. Out here the locals figured a dayas much for a good night’s rest as about anything that someoneenough energy left to generate electricity, which the miller sold toThe mill’s exterior had once been painted a bright red, but now...
6 Pickle Factory Crew
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...bers the Patterson family had delivered, the pickle factory crewwaited for the first truckload of cucumbers from Jake Stewart’splace. J. W. Johnson had called and said the truck was on its wayand that he’d be at the factory when it arrived, “to make damnsure everything goes the way it’s supposed to.” Andy thought,...
7 Isaac and Jake
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...feed in the feed room in the barn, Isaac went in the house, and heIsaac couldn’t understand why city folks wanted to call the noonished playing cards at a neighbor’s house or in the middle of aburners on the other. He picked up the Milwaukee Sentinel, some-thing he did after both the noon and evening meals. By day’s end...
8 Migrant Pickers
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...slowly down the trail that cut through one of Jake Stewart’s bigstocky, and had a thick black mustache and a ready smile. Carloshad been born in Brownsville, Texas, and grew up traveling northdifferent parts of the country and especially being paid the moneyhard work you got ahead. The Rodríguez family included Carlos’s...
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...factory door. Johnson’s armpits were wet, and sweat poured offhis face. Late in the day the humidity had come up, and there wasno breeze, nor hint of one, in the valley where the pickle factory“Good God, that’s a bunch of cukes,” Blackie said. “Never sawquickly began dragging and lifting bag after heavy bag of cucum-...
10 Long Days
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He had expected letters or phone calls from Gazette readers, butgrants lived and worked at Jake Stewart’s place or what their liv-ing in to the pickle factory, truckload after truckload from JakeStewart’s thirty acres, and sack after sack from the little cucumberof timely rains and sunny, hot weather contributed to high yields...
11 Pickle Days
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...thing to attract people to the area, to give local businesses a boostand, as the village president said, “Put Link Lake on the map.”(the area once grew acres of it), or a statue of Increase Joseph Linkof deliberation, the decision leaned toward a statue of IncreaseJoseph. That is, until a representative of the H. H. Harlow Pickle...
12 Cucumbers Keep Coming
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...have to leave for the pickle factory in a few minutes. Then he no-wasn’t so sure about the part claiming that kids like Harlow dillpickles. He remembered not liking dill pickles when he was a kid,Company, with its national advertising budget, and the little mer-cantile found only in Link Lake. What groceries his family bought...
13 School Closing
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The notice in the Link Lake Gazette stated simply, “All membersof the Rose Hill School District are invited to a special meeting,August 11, 8 p.m. at the schoolhouse to discuss consolidation.”cows, tote the cans of fresh milk to their milk houses and immersethem in cooling tanks, and turn their cows out to night pasture....
14 Salt Bin
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...oiling, several wooden cucumber boxes had loose slats and neededrenailing, and broken boards covering the pickle vats called forrepair. But the big job for the day was emptying a boxcar-load ofthe car and located it on the railroad’s pickle factory siding.had been expecting it but hadn’t known the exact date it would...
15 George Roberts
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...factory promptly at eight the next day. Andy was waiting for him,hoping he was sober. “Well, I’m here, Andy. Here, just like I said“I got it, Andy,” he said as he touched his long, thin finger tothe side of his head. “Got it right here. Remember from last timeAgnes, don’t you?” Agnes Swarsinski was scraping dirt off the...
16 Ames County Fair
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...“Fly you over your farm,” the pilot said as he leaned on a wing,a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. “See what your place looksgames of chance (knock over the milk bottles!), rides like the Fer-tractors—Allis Chalmers orange, Oliver green, International red,gines, asked the dealer to start them up as they stood watching,...
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...was talk to the factory crew about spot rot and what he had seenand heard the previous day. He said that Jake Stewart’s entry attened carefully to Andy’s description of what to look for in a cu-“If spot rot gets a foothold here it could wipe out the rest ofour season,” Andy said. “But apparently it doesn’t hit every cu-...
18 Love among the Pickle Vats
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...blight. Whether they had a quarter acre or a couple acres of cu-their fields under, and hope they wouldn’t be attacked again nextback, Andy had to refuse the Patterson family’s five sacks. Slowly,farmers had to plow under what appeared to be perfectly good cu-cucumber fields, big and little, were in full production, the factory...
19 Missing Workers
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...among the pickle vats, Andy arrived at work to find Marshal Jus-car. Quick wore his big silver badge clipped to his belt, which hesupport a .38 revolver that hung low on his right side. He fumbled“I’ll just wait here, then,” the marshal said. He put his fingersdid. She was all worked up, said it wasn’t like him not to come...
20 Breaking News
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...shared it. It’s hard to say whether Quick saw it as a civic duty tokeep people informed or was a gossip who couldn’t keep a storyto himself. Of course, he was also looking for some publicity, be-“It’s the biggest story of the year,” the marshal said. “Maybeabout what happened between the pickle vats in the factory cellar....
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Allan Clayton’s fatal heart attack in mid-August had come as alivered a pickup load of cucumbers to the pickle factory, and hetheir feet. He had seemed perfectly healthy, tall, thin, and trim.He had told Andy he was planning to increase the size of his cu-cumber patch to maybe an acre next year, as long as the price of...
22 Jake Stewart
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The week of the Clayton auction, the “letters to the editor”worked hard, even my youngest sister who is only three years oldand they produced lots of cukes, too. Then the spot rot came andEveryone’s heart went out to that little girl and her family. ButRose Hill School District after the election. But there wasn’t a...
23 Closing Down
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...but rumors began flying that high school kids had been using thebasement of the pickle factory as a place to “make out,” as onesaid. Of course there was not one shred of truth to that, but it wasTap, made the rounds of the grist mill, and only a day or so laterto the pickle factory to talk with him about the spot-rot situation....
24 What Next?
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...cucumbers from small acreage growers. The editorial he had writ-when he was first hired as editor: “Dewey, you’ve got to find thebig story before you can write the little one; you’ve got to knowwhat else is going on in the woods before you can write about thetalking about, but he had it right. He’d said, “If you’re going to...
25 The Family Farm
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...research and learning the facts. You may regret your decision. Hewrote the following editorial during the week of September 12, to processing plant in Green Bay. Starting next year the company willleast twenty acres of cucumbers and abide by Harlow’s many rules....
26 Decision Time
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...last day of operation. This was about the usual closing date forcommunity’s life for many years. He didn’t want people to justfarmer died and left no heirs. The poor guy got a little stone indeath, and that was it. In a year or two people forgot about him,almost like he’d never lived at all, hadn’t been an important part...
27 Another Mystery
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...he’d know about the weather. It had rained all night, and a coldearly season frost would really cap it off for the farmers who hadthe line said. “Just got a call from Tiny Urso, one of Jake Stewart’shired men. He’s the big guy who stutters—took him forever buthe finally spit out that Jake has come up missing. You wanna ride...
28 Remembering Jake
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In extra large print, the headline of the Link Lake Gazette read,“Prominent Farm Leader Dies in Freak Accident.” A two-columnlarge pile of fertilizer bags on his rural Link Lake farm.” The storywent on to detail the events of Stewart’s death, including a half-suspected Jake had financial problems, especially since the spot-...
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Church by ten o’clock, a full hour before Jake’s funeral was tobegin. Marshal Justin Quick, wearing a freshly pressed white shirtbig field back of the church where cars were lining up. The mar-shal “howdied” each driver, and welcomed those people he didn’trecognize to Link Lake. He followed the “Howdy” with a “Nice...
30 H. H. Harlow
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...thousand-acre Jake Stewart farm in rural Link Lake for an undis-the company has several anticipated uses for the land: “We planthe College of Agriculture in Madison, will test new varieties ofcucumbers, green beans, field peas, sweet corn, and potatoes. Wenew processing plant in Green Bay. Additionally, we’ll establish a...
31 Mystery Solved
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It took only a week for Isaac to find a buyer for his cows, and ata higher price than he had hoped for. He had milked cows since hewas a small boy, and he was a bit surprised at how difficult it was tosee the last animal walk up the ramp into the cattle truck. It’s onething to talk about change and how to face it, it’s quite another to...
32 Barn Dance
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...the row, hoeing out weeds. He was enjoying the quiet. He heard amourning dove call in the distance, and sitting on a nearby fencerustled the needles of the row of majestic white pines that bor-years, would hitch the old gelding, Claude, to a one-row cultiva-today, turn Claude out to pasture, and then return to his home in...
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Rose, Wisconsin, during the summers of 1952–1955. This story isfiction but is loosely based on my experiences during those years.they would help with the hoeing and especially with the picking,patches were tiny by today’s standards, some only a quarter acre orStore, Arnol Roberts, took some Spanish courses—of course, his...
Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2007