Every summer in our small South Texas town The Sandia would open for business. Almost any young adult who could get a job there for the summer did.
If you wanted a little money in your pocket, working at The Sandia provided that.
Big dusty trucks would roll-in to The Sandia with fresh watermelon that was picked from the fields. Once at The Sandia, strong and sweaty teens would unload the trucks and carefully place the watermelon in boxes for selling. I imagine that it was an assembly line of ruckusy young people. Maybe they would have to test the watermelon to make sure they were good by flicking their finger and tapping it, and they would sort the sandia by size and variety. There would be a lot of screaming because The Sandia would always be loud from the big trucks, air conditioners and lively conversations. I would fantasize about what things were like at The Sandia because I had never been inside. I begged my father each summer to allow me to work there. He would always dismiss me and say “NO”. I would ask him “why not” and he wouldn’t respond.
He had his own sandia field that he would tend to. It was just enough sandia for him to bring home and share with relatives, friends and also sell. He would place boxes on the tailgate of his truck and sit at the edge of town. He enjoyed his solitude and I think sitting alone in his truck with his watermelon and other homegrown vegetables gave him that. Combined with the conversations of friends or strangers that would stop to plactica or buy a watermelon or two, made for a perfect day.
Our house always reaped the benefits of Dad's farming gifts, we were never without cold, sweet sandia. It was the highlight of a hot Texas summer day. My father would slice the sandia so that they resembled our happy faces when we ate them.
When I was an adult and my father was much older I tried to capture the happiness that a cold sandia brought to me as a young girl with my own children. Although my kids enjoyed the sweet, juicy watermelon, it did not bring me the same joy as when I was younger. Like The Sandia that closed its doors forever in our small town, my childhood was over and just a memory.