Oral History with Barbara Ball Savage
Barbara Ball Savage grew up at the Glebe House (listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
Her father was Frank Ball, Sr., who served as both Commonwealth Attorney and State Senator for many years. This quote is from her oral history. The recording and transcription are available in the Virginia Room.
“Oh, Daddy always had a big vegetable garden and then he would get in some contest with somebody down at the courthouse, who was going to have the first tomato by the 4th of July, who was going to have the first ear of corn. And this kidding went on all the time over the garden. But it sure tasted good. And he would tell Mother to get the kettle boiling and then he’d go out and pull the corn. There wasn’t five minutes between the time it was pulled and it was in the water. Which kept the sweetness. Oh, we had a big vegetable garden. I can remember my brother Frank talking about how they used dynamite to break up the soil — it was such hard clay there – to plant the trees in the orchard. And in the summer, I never had applesauce that wasn’t homemade applesauce until I was married. . . I make damson preserves because that’s what my mother and grandmother made. And they used to go out to Vienna to get the Damsons. They’d send Frank out on the little train, the trolley that went out to Vienna. And he’d come home with two buckets of Damsons and then my mother would make Damson preserves for the winter.”
The Arlington County Fair, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006, gives awards for exemplary flowers, fruits and vegetables grown in home gardens. The photograph above, taken by County Photographer Debbie Ernst, shows a young winner at the 1986 fair. Gardening is alive and well in Arlington!
What About You?
Did you cultivate a garden in your yard? Where did you and your family go to get fresh produce? Let us know!
I knew Frank Ball Jr. and we often spoke of his early life in Arlington, but I had never heard the story of the dynamite or the Damson preserves before. Very interesting stuff.