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Russett, Oklahoma


By Larry Wilcox


Quite a few farmers in the Russett area grew watermelons.  As told in the “The Frank Smith Family” by Aletta Smith, really good watermelons grew on the land in and around Russett.  

Now a pastime by the teenaged boys was to sample these watermelons without the owner’s permission.  We called it “Stealing Watermelons”.  There were many farmers that if we asked them to pick a few watermelons would give us permission only asking that we not damage the watermelon vines.  But, that wasn’t much fun.  We would pick farmers that allegedly waited at night nearby their patch with shotgun ready.  Now-a-days the cops would be called and these juvenile delinquents would be jailed.  So, the game was to sneak under the cover of darkness and get some watermelons and sneak out without the farmer knowing it. I remember one night some of us non-ball playing kids walked to the Luke Smith watermelon patch and stole some of his watermelons.  We decided to carry them back to the school where a basketball game was being played.  We were going to share them with our friends.  I remember I had found this extra large watermelon that got quite heavy carrying it the two miles back to school.  What a disappointment as I neared the school, I accidentally dropped and broke this huge watermelon. 

Often we made the game more exciting by telling the story that some of the farmers to prevent the theft of his watermelons treated them.  The story is that he took a small bottle of Croton Oil (a known purgative {laxative}), split the watermelon vine and put a wick through the split watermelon vine with the other end of the wick in the bottle of Croton Oil. The wick would infuse the watermelon with the Croton Oil. I remember some watermelon stealers swearing the watermelon had been Croton Oiled.  If the farmers ever did this, I never experience eating Croton Oiled watermelons or the aftermath. 

Now stealing watermelons got kind of boring so we cooked up another game.  A small group of us would entice a bunch of the basketball players to go watermelon stealing after the game at a particular watermelon patch.  Of course we would spice it up by telling the group how mean the farmer was and that he often waited with shotgun at the ready.  Then a small group of the “In the know” would go to a watermelon patch and wait in hiding. The remaining of the “In the know” group would escort the unknowing to the watermelon patch.  This time we picked Mr. Kirkly’s watermelon patch.  It was a dark night with a little moonlight.  I was with the first group and we lay in waiting.  After the guest watermelon stealers arrived and crawled over a 5-wire barbwire fence to get into the watermelon patch, one of the early arrivers stood up and pretending to be Mr. Kirkly, shouted out “Don’t move or I’ll shoot your a** off.  Now some of the victims froze in place and some ran. I remember seeing Dale O’Steen clearing that 5-wire Barbwire fence in one leap.  Dale was a great athlete. 

Epilogue by Jerry Henry

I remember doing similarly from Mr. Green's patch. His was in the middle of a cornfield.  We were paranoid anyway and think we heard something and someone would holler "Run" and it would sound like a tornado going thru the corn stalks. Being night we all scattered and took us a while to rendezvous and tell stories of our getaway. If we decided that we panicked, in error, we would have another try-- Living on the edge.  That’s why young men fight wars I guess.


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Last modified: 05/27/07