One day, Peggy was describing Walter’s vegetable garden. She explained how proud he was of it and how he would spend time explaining to her how the plants were maturing and bearing fruit.
She told me how he had pointed out a tomato plant that was a volunteer. He explained that it had started from a seed but would never bear fruit. We laughed and wondered why he would even consider tending to a sterile plant.
A few days later, I was visiting a wonderful fruit and vegetable garden that is located inside the local Kroger store at Madison and Edgewood avenues. While strolling through the cool garden, I spotted some tomatoes that were still attached to the end of their vines. There were three or four tomatoes in each vine.
I purchased a couple of the interesting clusters and drove to Walter and Peggy’s house. As I figured, they were still at the office. I found the volunteer plant that Walter had been describing in his garden.I very carefully slipped one of the clusters between the plant leaves. It looked very realistic, so I later telephoned Peggy to inform her as to what I had done.
As I walked into our office the following morning, Peggy welcomed me by saying, “You son of a *#%&h!” I recovered from the stern salutation but wondered why.
She told me that when she had arrived home the previous evening, Walter was sitting outside at a table with a plate in front of him. He told her that the volunteer plant was indeed producing fruit and he was “eating one of the best damned tomatoes I have ever tasted.”
We laughed as she explained how difficult it was to keep a straight face, especially when he was expounding on the quality of his “homegrown” tomato.
Afterward I was on an out-of-town trip. Upon my return, I decided to purchase another tomato cluster and try my trick again. With my purchase in hand, I returned to the scene of the crime. But the plant in Walter’s garden had turned colorful.
Walter found out he had been fooled earlier and acted of his own. He decorated his plant with several small plastic fruits and vegetables – a corn-on-a-cob, a banana, an orange, an apple and more.
I flopped down and started laughing because I knew that Walter had evened things up. He got me good.
Suddenly, I heard someone clear his throat a couple of times. I finally saw a telephone repairman at the top of a utility pole near Walter’s garden. He had seen me and heard my uncontrollable laughter.
After we saw each other, he climbed down and I told him the entire story.
Walter and Peggy Hart passed away a few years ago, leaving many special stories to remember them.