HAMILTON, Al. – Nothing speaks summer time and southern, down-home culture like an old-fashioned “Watermelon Cutting.” Now, pretty-much a thing of the past, along with many of the treasured traditions of our beloved south such as: Raccoon hunting, frog gigging and camping all-night on a cool creek bank while fishing for Bream and Bluegill, the watermelon cutting can be traced back to a much-easier, simpler time when family and friends found great pleasure in getting together frequently for events such as the watermelon cutting.
“There’s watermelon ‘cutting,’ then there’s my ‘watermelon cuttin'”, laughed J.D. Houston, an elderly-but-spry southerner who always loved to collect as many watermelons, with red or yellow meat, and cut them up for his kids, grandkids and neighbors. Mr. Houston could be seen in the background of many of his watermelon cuttin’s smiling from ear to ear while the priceless memories of his loved ones were being built in his heart.
Probably in all reality, the “Watermelon Cutting,” was the easiest event that any southerner ever conceived. The only work to this wonderful happening was the labor of hauling the juicy, ripe watermelons from the watermelon patch by hand or by wheel barrow. Either way, there was little or no complaining about “this” type of work for it ended with everyone devouring the flavorful produce and allowing the juices to flow freely down chins and elbows.
“Time was, I used to cut up as many as ten to fifteen melons,” Mr. Houston stated. “That was when my kids were little and before everybody grew up and moved off to school.” And what great times Mr. Houston and his family had when it came time to ‘raid the watermelon patch’ and have a cool summer evening “Watermelon Cutting” on the fresh green grass as the gentle breezes kissed the faces of these hard-working southern citizens.
Houston went on to explain that even as a young boy, he remembered his dad and mom and as as far back as their parents all having “Watermelon Cuttings” to not only enjoy these “sweet blessings from above,” but to celebrate another successful garden they had planted. Events such as the “Watermelon Cutting,” “Hay Rides,” and singing to a newly-married area couple, were traditions of purpose–helping to secure a southern life that was remembered by all ages in the progressive years of their lives.
And speaking of “watermelon raids,” this event, although pushing the legal boundaries of landowners, was the most illegal “fun” that a group of strapping boys could ever have in the summer time besides fishing in the nearby creek or taking a swim in the icy waters after a long day of hard work in the corn or cotton fields.
“I’d think my watermelons weren’t any good, if the boys didn’t try and steal some,” Mr. Houston said with a gleam in his eye. “I can recall several ‘watermelon raids’ my buddies and I were in on,” he added. The laughed.
“Watermelon Cutting”: an honored event that meant southern culture.