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Selecting A Good Watermelon

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The best tip I ever got for selecting a good, ripe watermelon came about 25 years ago from a very old black man I met in a grocery store. He was standing there by the watermelons trying to balance a broom straw on a watermelon. I just had to stop and watch him to see what in the world he was doing, and of course I had to ask him also.


He explained to me that this was the very best way to find a ripe watermelon, that it never fails! You take a broom straw, balance it carefully across the melon, then turn it loose. The straw will start to wobble, then spin. The faster it spins and the more times it goes around, the riper the melon is! He said it had to do with the water content in the melon, the juicier it was, the more it moved the straw. This is apparently based on the theory that "water witches" use with divining rods to find water through the magnetic property of the water and since I thoroughly believe in water witching, I believed him!

He showed me how to do it and helped me pick out a good melon by just using the straw. He said when he knew he was going to buy a watermelon, he took his own straw to the store with him. If he happened to not have it with him, he went to the housewares dept of the store and broke a straw off a broom to use.


Amazingly enough, when I cut the melon open later, it was one of the juiciest most flavorful melons I'd had in a long time. So for a long time after that, I carried a broom straw in my purse and I never got a bad melon! Of course I got stares and questions, so I passed on the words of wisdom given to me by the old man.

I also taught family members and friends what I'd learned. They've all told me at one time or another that it's been the most accurate way they've been able to pick melons out! My mom actually gets a big kick out of doing this at the store even now!

I ended up standing there for over 30 minutes, having the most enjoyable conversation with that wonderful man about the way things were when he was a youngster way back when!

Source: A wise old man I met in a grocery store in Arizona many years ago.

By lyonpridej from OK

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

That is so cool! Thanks for sharing it. When I go into the grocery to buy my husband a watermelon, I just always pray that it is going to be good when he cuts into it. I have never understood that thumping method. I will take a broom straw to the grocery store with me this weekend for sure!

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

I've always done the thump test and if there is a dull thud I then proceed with the sniff test near the navel. The sniff test works great on all melons because you can smell whether or not there is a ripe sweetness. Definitely going to give your advice a try this weekend when doing my marketing out of sheer curiosity and let you know what I find and will give a thumbs up if it works! :-)

I do have to admit that I almost didn't finish reading your tip after seeing the old black man part but because I know you didn't mean anything bad from your heart in stating color I went ahead and read. Anyway, on a personal note, my paternal grandfather's father was black and his (my grampa's) paternal grandparents had been born slaves. The age old negative sterotype about black folk, watermelon, fried chicken, etc. is hurtful. In my heart it's like saying the age old sterotype that someone is mentally retarded instead of mentally challenged.

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July 22, 20110 found this helpful

You know what. I didn't even notice you said it was an old "black" man until I read the reader's responses. Then I had to go back and look. It's amazing what you don't read when it doesn't matter.

Interesting trick though.

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July 23, 20110 found this helpful

I would like to clear something up. I never meant the "old black man" part to be taken as racist & I apologize to anyone who took it that way & were offended. I never even connected it with the stereotype that connects 'black' with 'watermelon & fried chicken' until Deeli mentioned it, because I just don't think that way. It upsets & embarrasses me to think someone might look at me that way!


I was simply relating a story as I remember it, a meeting with a complete stranger in the grocery store that turned out to be a learning experience & history lesson, one I thoroughly enjoyed. In my mind's eye I can still see this old man with the twinkling eyes who passed down a piece of history about 'country wisdom' that worked(the straw & watermelon) & told me some stories of growing up in a poor black family who worked as sharecroppers for a white farmer (HIS description)in the 1920s & 30s. So,If anything, it was his experience growing up that made him the expert at choosing a watermelon, not his race/color!

My paternal granny's family was a bunch of dirt poor Kentucky hillbillies with both Native American & probably African American and/or Melungeon mixed in. Some people are offended by the word 'hillbilly'or think I should be embarrassed to admit it, but generations growing up in the 'hills & hollers' of KY&TN MADE them who they were & I'm proud of their grit, determination & 'country wisdom' they passed down to me.


My adopted grandma was a white woman born to a wealthy northern family & raised by a 'beloved black nanny'(once again her words)to be a "Lady". As a very young woman she ran away to live for many years in a small Mexican village where she raised her son, changed her name & learned the language & customs. She talked often about the things she learned from her nanny & the Mexican people, she said she was a white woman with a Mexican soul.She was the wisest person I have ever met & I loved her more than anything.

These are all descriptions & phrases that could very well be considered racist or offensive, they aren't meant to be. To me, they are some of the things in these peoples lives that helped to shape & define who they were, it made them into the people I loved & admired! With tv & the internet, other people,cultures,customs, are not such a mystery that people hate or fear because it's different. Mixing cultures and races is common place now. We are becoming a melting pot mixture. But nowadays,race & culture seem to have become 'politically incorrect' -in trying to rightly get rid of the attitudes of racism & prejudice, we are throwing away some of the most wonderful things that should be saved, embraced & proudly shared. The customs & culture of where we came from makes our melting pot a beautiful rainbow instead of a boring,bland, generic sameness!

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June 24, 20150 found this helpful

I also didn't notice the fact that you said the gentleman was black, and I also had to go back and look. You probably would have gotten odd comments if you had said "old white man", too! Cool way to find the best watermelon. I'll try it!! Thanks for sharing!

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June 25, 20150 found this helpful

Geez Louise, people.

He was black because he happened to be black. What do stereotypes have to do with anything if the story actually happened?

It's easier to picture the person in the story if a few details are mentioned. He deserves credit for the tip and being willing to show it to another person.

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June 25, 20150 found this helpful

Very well said, Judy. If we could all quit wasting time being offended, we might just get along and even have some fun!

Besides, point to ponder: what does it say about your own feelings of your culture and being when you take offense at being called what you are?

Take it as a compliment, and it's a compliment.

If it was intended as offense, seeing you take it as a compliment should shut the offender right up.

If they persist, it becomes comedy for your entertainment.

Win-win-win. Now, go have some fun!

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