Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bradley Tomato Love

I grew up in Southern Arkansas and one of my first summer jobs as a teenager was wrapping tomatoes. Let me explain. Bradley County, Ark. is known for its tomatoes. They are big, meaty and beautiful. The soil there produces tomatoes prized by tomato lovers. The fields were so big back in the late 1960s when I was in high school that they hired teens during the season to wrap and pack tomatoes. The biggest, most perfect tomatoes were individually hand-wrapped with tissue before being placed in a special shipping box. That was my job. I rode in the back of a pickup from Hampton to Warren, where the fields and the production sheds were.

Each year, Warren holds the Pink Tomato Festival when the big beauties are just turning that lovely, deep shade of pink that means they were ready to eat. This year, my sister, Gloria planted her first crop of Bradley tomatoes. Because she lives near Waco, she doesn't expect them to taste absolutely the same. But a Bradley tomato is a Bradley tomato. She's promised to bring me some when she comes for a two-week visit next week to take the Master Gardener Class in Beaumont.


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