Avery Tomato Festival

Slim Hulen and Cleoda Robinson, Grand Marshall

The tomato Festival Parade started abt 1934. I was about 9 when Charlene Duke was my grandfather's granddaughter by his first marriage. I was his grandson by his second. She was as pretty as anyone could be and the biggest tom-boy in the country. She could ride her horse bareback as fast as he could run and Jump fences with him also bareback. She just had to be in the parade and wanted to use her pony and my granddad's 2 wheel cart with just she and I in it. Granddad sure put up a good argument against it and for a while I thought he might win. Then he just up and said all right and got things ready. I just knew he couldn't win against something so pretty, sweet all the time and could out-do the boys too. They got the cart painted and it looked just like new. Her paint pony sure set it off too. When the day of the parade came we were so excited, just she and I would be in the cart and the parade. We lined up on the School ground at the back down in the hollow (NE corner). Everything was going just fine when someone blew a loud horn and off we went at full speed. The men at the parade tried to stop the pony on the first round of the school grounds, and on the second round of the school grounds. She was standing up trying to get him to stop and said Hang On, I wondered what she thought I'd been doing on both rounds. The men at the parade stopped him on his third round and they took us out of the cart and put us on a float with some other kids. She was so mad that she frowned and pouted all through the parade. I wasn't real happy either.

In 1939 I worked for my Dad who was running Polis and Hagen's shed in Lydia. I was putting the label's on the end of the boxes. A little girl was aggravating me while I was working and when I got far enough ahead I was going to put an end to her doing that. I chased her about one round and there stood Dad. I was fired instantly without him hearing my reason. The only job I was fired from in my whole life. There were 13 tomato sheds operating in Avery then. Most of the time there were only 11.

In 1946 after getting out of the service and expecting a child I worked at Burris Bearden's which was in the Mule Barn. I was the Lidder, who nailed the lids on the 28 # lugs and sent them to the boxcar's. You pulled the packed lug into the press, held a lid and the press held the ends of the lid while you nailed 3-4 nails in each end. The nails were held in a stripper and you could take 8 nails out at one time. You would use the hatchet to stick the nail and one lick to drive it home. Sweat would pour off you and you didn't have time to wipe it. Just hold your head where it would drip and not get in your eyes. The first day we worked 20 hours straight and that nite I was so sore I couldn't sleep. My wife and mother-in-law rubbed my shoulders and arms so I could try to rest. The second nite was worse. The third 18-20 hour day I began to loosen up and feeling better. I lidded until our daughter was born and then went to work at Red River Arsenal in the instrument group for a short while.

Somewhere in the 50's the tomato's ran out and the parade was changed to Frontier Day Parade.

Eddie Robinson


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