By Tom Kovach
Issue #65 • September/October, 2000
Having the best vegetable garden in the village might put food on the table and make some money at the market, but it also can cause some problems. Or so it was with my grandfather, the mayor of a small village in Hungary, then a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
My father told me Grandfather grew some of the best potatoes, cabbage, and carrots in the area. But one summer he ran into problems. Someone was stealing his produce. Not just stealing it, but also digging some of the plants up and leaving them to spoil.
Besides his huge vegetable garden, my grandfather had the duties of mayor, taking care of local disputes and such. He also had some cows, horses, and hay fields to care for. My grandmother helped and so did some of the children who were older, but for the most part the work fell on my grandfather and he was none too pleased to see his hard work being ruined by thieves and vandals.
One of the people taking vegetables was an old man who lived in a little shack and no means of support, other than odd jobs. What little money he made, he spent on drink. My father did not begrudge him the few vegetables he took, but he felt bad that the old man was spending the money he made from the vegetable garden on liquor.
He also knew that the old man was not a vandal. He took whatever vegetables he got out of the garden to either eat or sell. Someone else was tearing up the garden.
He got an idea. One day he told my grandmother, “I think I’ll hire the old man who’s taking my vegetables as a night watchman for our garden. I’m too busy to stay up watching it.”
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