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I MISS THE SMELL OF TOMATOES IN THE MORNING
August 28, 2014
We moved to Davis in 1973. It was not a decision we were happy about. Walt was working for a division of the Department of Agriculture, which had its office in Berkeley. When the old boss retired and a good ol' boy from Texas came in to take charge, he looked at all those hippies around Berkeley and set in motion moving the whole office up here to Davis.
It was, all things considered, a logical decision, since much of the work entailed working with offices in Sacramento. It involved big decisions for the employees, though. Most (some 50 families) chose to move; at least one guy found employment elsewhere so he could remain in the Bay Area.
I had passed by Davis many times, on my way to go to Peach's house in Citrus Heights, on the far side of Sacramento. All I knew of it was a sign for the offramp. I had never entered the town before. I still remember the first time we came to look around and I kept trying to find "downtown," which I was smack dab in the middle of at the time.
A big town this is not...and it was much smaller then. We now have "skyscrapers." A whole 3 stories tall. Several buildings. There is one corner, where Walt's office is now, which I call "Wall Street" because there are 3-story buildings on each corner.
Our friend Michele had graduated from UC Davis and was excited that we were going to be living here because she had such pleasant memories of her time here.
At that time there was a big Campbell's Soup plant in Davis, not too far from our house. The agricultural land which surrounded Davis was heavily planted in tomato crops. I think it would have been impossible to starve to death in Davis in the summer because the huge tomato trucks, carrying their loads to the plant invariably knocked lots of tomatoes to the ground when they made turns. If people were really lucky, a truck would tip over and most of its contents would spill out on the ground, ready for the gleaners.
But the thing I learned our very first weeks in Davis was that the smell of cooking tomatoes filled the air every day for most of the summer. The plant processed tomatoes into tomato paste.
Every time I got up and smelled cooking tomato aroma wafting our way from the Campbell's cannery I would be taken back to my childhood and the times my mother would make cream of tomato soup, using Campbell's tomato soup and milk and then serve it with a sice of balloon bread thickly lathered with real butter. We would dip the tips of the bread into the cream of tomato soup. I loved that taste.
After we'd been here a month, I wrote to ask Michele how long the smell of cooking tomatoes lasted. I don't remember if she ever gave me an answer, but I came to love the smell of cooking tomatoes and when the plant closed and moved operations to nearby Dixon, I found I missed it.
The plant stood empty for many years but they have recently been given the OK to develop "The Cannery," which will build more than 500 homes on the land. There has been activity behind the bushes that separated the cannery from the road for months now but last night I noticed that all the greenery has been cleared away and now there is a fence and all the buildings have been cleared away in preparation for laying out the new housing development.
The population of the city will increase significantly and
I'm sure the homes will be beautiful, but for me, I like the small town feel, and I still
miss the smell of tomatoes in the morning.
Photo of the Day
Day 59: First Day of School (they look so big!)
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