Whitesburg KY

Don’t give me any more jars

All my life I’ve heard people call canning jars “cans”. As a teenager I did my courting by helping my girlfriend and her mom can the vegetables from their garden. I’d pick beans, apples, corn, cucumbers and cabbage and dig potatoes, and we’d can them.

When we mar r ied, her mother gave us some canning jars. (When we showed the Yankees the cans, they made fun of us. Cans are made of metal, and we think they’re made of glass.)

So in Ohio, North Carolina and New York, we had a garden, even though sometimes we just had enough space to grow a few tomatoes. Those we didn’t use, we canned.

When we divorced, she took the cans with her.

I married again, a city girl from Houston, Tex. She’d never canned anything in her life. I went to Dayton, Oh., and bought a 13-acre mini-farm.

I plowed one acre for a huge garden. She wasn’t interested in it, so my 13-yearold stepdaughter helped me some. I bought two dozen jars, and I showed her how to can beans and corn.

When we opened a can of beans and cooked them that winter, she said, “They taste just as good out of a metal can.” Then we divorced.

For seven years after that, I had a garden and canned my veggies. Then I married my childhood sweetheart from Dry Fork, and she brought several dozen of her cans with her. We grow a big garden every year, and we have canned for almost 15 years.

My mom called me and said, “I’m going to quit canning. Do you want all these cans over here?”

Of course I did. The green and blue ones, too. I loaded them into boxes and trucked them to my house, and stacked them in the corner in the barn.

Then Jan’s mom died. We looked in the basement and there were at least 200 cans there, all sizes. Jan said, “We can’t throw them away.” So, I rounded up some boxes and carried them home to my barn.

We decided to sell a few, so I took several boxes full to the flea market and put 25 cents each on them. I never sold one all day, except for all those with the number ‘13’ on the bottom. (Those who believe in the occult like these for some reason.)

I took a trip to Hillsboro, Oh., to see my son. He showed me the building where he planned on putting a woodworking shop. Stacked in the corner were boxes and boxes of cans. I asked him about them, and he said they were his mom’s and her mother’s, and they had both quit canning.

“What are you going to do with them?” I asked. He said, “If you don’t want them, I’m going to break them and dump them into a sinkhole behind the shop.”

Guess where they are now? In the corner of the barn.

Last year my first cousin called me. “Can you and Jan come over? I’ve got some things I’m going to throw away, and you and Jan might want them.” There were six boxes of quart canning jars. I brought them home, of course.

Jan and I are now 75 and 74 years old. We have more cans than we know what to do with. We still grow two gardens. We eat homegrown corn, beans, pickles and have tomato juice in the winter months. The jelly jars and some of the pint jars will soon be full of fresh, wild blackberry jam. The half-gallon jars will be full of pickled corn.

Our children aren’t interested in canning, so I guess after we’re going they’ll throw them away. That’s a shame.

I’ve put the green ones and the blue jars away, and no, they’re not for sale.

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