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Electric Scotland's Webboard Banter Conference
Stealing Watermelons

This thread ran from  Friday, May 14, 1999 03:21 PM to Friday, September 10, 1999 03:50 PM

When I was about 8 years old, we moved to a farmhouse out about 20 miles from the nearest town...The old farmer down the road had a reputation of always growing the biggest and the best watermelons in the country....Having 3 older brothers to guide me, we began to plunder his patch and eat a few of his best....We all went bare-footed and of course left tracks, so the old farmer would come down to see my dad with a stick in his hand...He would tell my dad that one of his boys with a foot the length of that stick had been stealing watermelons from him..Naturally dad would take the guilty out behind the woodshed...This went on for about 3 years .....we'd eat.....get whipped...then we would eat again....until one day a visiting uncle that was a policeman solved our problems..Uncle John wore a size 16 shoe.....and he had an old pair....which he left with us..We'd stuff the toes with straw and tie them on and away to the patch we would go....A few days later, the old farmer came to see dad with a stick about 18 inches long....He told dad that there must be a stranger in the neighborhood because someone had got 4 of his prize melons the night before....Us boys just said"BURP!" kidding??.....thats bad....

Cute story! I remember my friend and I stealing peaches. There is just nothing better than fresh fruit!! That is until you bite into it and see a worm crawling from one hole to another on the inside...yuk. Broke me!!!

By the way, after not much of a struggle the worm won!! (grin)

One the other side of the atlantic we used to go on 'plunders' too.
It's just that your 'plunders' sound so much more exotic.
We were after crab apples (not too good if you eat a lot of them at once) and even more exotically - when out in the country we would go after "tumshies."
Now "tumshies' are extremely exotic, considering that they were destined to be sheep fodder.
Definition - "Tumshie" - Rutabaga (swede).

So now an 'extra question of the month" - who knows why they are called "Swedes?"

Answer later - if not forthcoming.

First of all, I don't have a clue why anyone eats rutabagas in the first place....A supposed vegetable that has to be peeled with a power saw and an axe is not worth fooling with...Although my other half insists their quite tasty,,,as she hands me one of the dreaded things which are always covered with some kind of wax....maybe this is to lubricate the power saw......considering the hardness factor...why not call them politicians.?

Ah, Chas ye huvnae lived until ye've eaten Haggis wi' champit totties and bashed neeps (Tumshies)!
The wax bit is something that threw me when I first set foot in this part of the world.
Why on earth do they do that?
What sort of creatures exist here that will attack a pair helpless Tumshie.

Tumshie is also a term of endearment in the Glasgow area (come here ma wee tumshie; who's her daddy's big tumshie).
This must be a French element in Scotland - one of their terms of endearment translates as "My little cabbage!"
It's a strange world, int it

Coming from Glasgow, we called them turnips, hence the abbreviation "tumshies". The English called them swedes. What we called swedes were the white vegetable shaped like a carrot.
What's this wax you're talking about? Why would anyone wax a turnip?


A rutabaga is larger than a turnip. It has a hard skin which is much thicker than that of a turnip. Both are harvested in large quantities in the Fall. Waxing is the best form of preservation for a rutabaga aside from canning. They keep a long time after the harvest because of the thick skin and the waxing.

Turnips or neeps are smaller and more delicate skin [easily peeled]. The rutabaga also has a stronger flavour than the turnip.

Used to be fed both ad nauseam as a youngster at my grandparents' home. Love haggis. Hate neeps and rutabaga!

Cheers, Doug ;~}

Dear turnip expert
at least I find someone who knows why the wax is applied....also from your description of the famed "rootabeggar" its plain you've had the pleasure of trying to peel the beast.....regardless...I still don't like either but it makes me wonder how we went from stealing watermelons to the dreaded turnip......!!...chasmax

Doug's description of the Rutabaga is quite correct. However, in Glesca we called them turnips. As opposed to the Golden Globe variety that is more properly titled that way.
I never did see a turnip dressed in wax until I hit these shores. maybe it's because it gets really cold here in winter.

I have to deduct 3 marks for the comment about swedes being English.
The rutabaga is a swede - called thus because the first seeds of the variety were sent as part of the dowery for a Swedish princess who was being married to a Scots prince.

The the trip from Watermelon to Rutabaga is not that far, just an ocean and different climates that produce the 'plunders' for the kids.
We used to eat the tumshies raw - we carried big knives!

What a great place to get a wax job with a turned up root a baga that will make me a tumshie! Love it!
a not so typical Southern Belled...Kelly d.

This subject jolted my memory to a time when my pal and I were stealing tatties fur oor mammys. We looked up and there was this man watching us and my pal said to him "Aw please mister don't tell the farmer". He was the farmer. What he said to us can't be repeated. He was also carrying a shotgun.

We ran like #@%#.


I never heard of a rutabaga.....for Gawd's sake....Ah'm a glesgalass. Oor turnips wur massive, some as big as pumpkins....turnips are what we used to hollow out for Hallowe'en. None o' yer fancy furrin pumpkins.
I think we just used to let them grow bigger before they were harvested, the flesh was much yellower than what we get here in Oz.
And they tasted better but you had to be careful not to buy one that was too big otherwise it could be woody.
The closest I've found here is butternut pumpkin but even that is sweeter in taste.


Got no idea, but I call them turnips.


A jump from "neeps" to corn! Most Scots thought corn was cattle fodder until they hit the western shores of the Atlantic. Same goes for pumpkin pie. My wife had never had pumpkin pie until she arrived in Canada.

Joe Erskine

and back from Pumpkins to Tumshies - we used to carve Tumshies at Hallowe'en - they were the biggest veggie we could find. Don't half stink when the candle burns the inside.
Now where could that possibly take us?
How about back to Apples - dookin' for Apples at Hallowe'en- come on now how many folk ever did that?

Me Me Me! I enjoy doonkin for Apples!
a not so typical Southern Belled...Kelly d.

Kelly, which method do you prefer:-
Using a fork or going for the bottom feeders.

Wonder if Chasmax's mother-in-law can manage with her wooden teeth!

Dooking, lassie not doonking!!! And ye can either use a fork or plunge yer face in and use yer teeth.


It was hands behind the back and face first into the bucket when we were doonkin' for apples at Hallowe'en.

Sandy, my granny McGregor used pumpkin laced with turnips for extra flavour in her pumpkin pies.

Cheers, Doug ;~}

PS - Corn and quite a few other veggies have a North American origin. But if you want to see a spaghetti tree being harvested, they say that you must visit Italy.

Doug, see Elda's comment re the activity!
I was being polite (see... I can be) when the mis-spelling first appeared!

When it got serious we used to put on oor dookers (when the floor was swimmin' wi' watter).
Anyone else seen a floor swim?

The other hallowe'en treat was a treacle scone suspended from the ceiling ..(Elda HELP please, I've forgotten what we called the device for hanging the clothes to dry on).. and then smothered in Treacle (molasses). The kids were then blinfolded wi' their hands tied their backs and they had to try to bite a piece of the scone.
Scottish version of Hit the Penata.

I remember the treacle scones hanging from the "pulley".

Jim, thanks. For the life of me I had a complete blockage there!

Welcome Sandy,
Born in Falkirk but spent most of my life in Canada, but still remember a lot of the old things (good ones) of back home.
Regards, Jim

My Dad who emigrated from Scotland when he was 6 yrs old (near the turn of the century), writes in his biography:

'Hallow E'en was a festive occasion, with groups of youngsters going from door to door putting on little performances, one being a story by two youngsters in costume, and it went something like this:

"Here come I, Gilloshawa.
Gilloshawa is my name.
My sword and pistol by my side
I hope to win some fame."

"Some fame, sir? Some fame?
That's not within your power.
I'll cut you down to inches
inside of half an hour!"

Then the two would go into their performance. Other visitors might be blindfolded and led to the hearth where bowls were lined up containing various objects or ingredients, their fortunes being told according to the contents of the bowl they touched, and, of course, there was the usual ducking for apples.'

born in Glasgow, been around, cam back here to the Frozen North 19 years ago.
Thought I could remember most things but the "pulley' just stymied me.
I guess that's because we left Glasgow when I was 13 and our new house did not have a pulley - we had our own garden.

Talking of the pulley - we used to have a budgie that flew around the house. One day when my Mum was pulling up the pulley she heard this squawking. Poor wee Joey had been hanging on to the rope and had got tangled into the pulley mechanism. There was blood everywhere, Mum had to do the washing again, but Joey survived.

Have a good May 24 weekend!

I remember my Dad telling us about the shelves high on the wall where all the fancy plates and such were kept in "safety".
One time my grandfather brought home a monkey, where from we don't know. The brute scampered up to the shelf and proceeded to scatter everythind. End of monkey.
Have a good 24th too Sandy. Will spend mine trying to make a par on one hole!
Ta ta Jim

Och, Sandy, you should be ashamed of yourself, if you can't remember the pulley!! My Mum had one until the day that she died!! Great things they were, you could drape your clothes over them and just wait for them to dry!


Sandy, Elda, Hugh, Jim, and others I may have missed over the past two days in the garden, Our Hallowe'en (All Hallow's Eve) rituals in Canada involved "bobbing", "ducking" or "dunking" for apples (many varieties of which are no longer available in the stores!) :(

As Sandy said: Doug, see Elda's comment re the activity! I was being polite (see... I can be) when the mis-spelling first appeared!

Mis-spelling of a word is appropriate as a description of the way it was heard. No need to apologize. What happened to the custom? Homes became "tidier", and taffy apples took over for awhile. Nowadays you can buy some "goodies" to hand out that look bigger than they really are ..... and guaranteed to rot a youngun's teeth faster than they can say "Trick or Treat"!

Cheers, Doug ;~}

The word is "dooking", Doug. This is a Scottish site, so let's use the correct words.


Elda :)

Which part of Scotland does this site represent? North or South of Loch Lomond? High road or Low road? [GRIN}

Our Hallowe'en (All Hallow's Eve) rituals in Canada involved "bobbing", "ducking" (dookin) or "dunking" (doonkin) for apples. If Kelly heard "doonkin" I'm prepared to accept that, because I've heard it that way too.

I repeat: "mis-spelling" a word is appropriate as a description of the way it was heard. According to the spell-checker most of the above are misspelled. [Chuckle]

Cheers, Doug ;~}

Well I guess we've got to the point where only a "doo" kin tell us what to use.
Wis "dunkin" no a king at some time in history?

No need to get all worked up aboot it.

I'll stick to Dunkin' Donuts and Dookin fer apples. (Elda, Dunkin' Donuts is a doughnuts franchise here in NA).


North or South of Loch Lomond, Sandy? High road or Low road? [GRIN}

Having seen how doughnuts were made at a bakery, I usually "avoid" them ..... including the dunking of same. Ever had a good dunking at your pool, Sandy?

One favourite practice at the old-time "dunking for apples" was to push a person's head to the bottom of the tub. That act might be avenged by some prank like transporting veranda furniture to the limb of a tree in their front yard (or pushing over their out-house). You can't do most of these things nowadays ..... even dunking for apples. [chuckles] Fortunately we were never caught!

Cheers, Doug ;~}

What is worse than eating an apple and finding a maggot inside?
.....finding half a maggot!



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