My 16-year-old daughter believes this sudden rash of childhood memories represents some deep-seated mental problem, but my opinion is that I’ve often thought about these events; I’ve just never recorded them before so now I’m taking that opportunity.
Most people don’t love brussel sprouts, but not many people are horrified by them, like I am. It all stems from the ‘terrible brussel sprout accident of ‘73’.
Highway 5 runs past the north end of Hinckley. It is referred to as the “Loneliest Highway in America” and every year there are many accidents and deaths which occur on that long, straight stretch of road between Delta, Utah and Ely, Nevada. I believe it is because drivers just become so bored with the nothingness out there, they doze off and then over-correct. It is truly a problem, but until 1973 it had never affected me in a personal way.
11-year-olds are typically opinionated and picky about what they eat, but I don’t think I was particularly fussy. At our house we ate what we raised. We slaughtered chickens, ducks, turkeys, and rabbits every year on our property and hauled the larger animals—cows, sheep and pigs to the slaughter house in Delta to be butchered and packaged for our enormous chest freezer. We also grew loads of vegetables: corn, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, etc. which I ate plentifully all summer and also what my mother and I preserved in jars or dried for the other months of year.
Well one day there was an accident out on Highway 5 not far from Hinckley. A semi truck had its load shift and tip over spilling its entire shipment of brussel sprouts. A tractor trailer completely filled with brussel sprouts is A LOT of those little vegetables. Word spread through Hinckley like wildfire that everyone could go out to the accident scene and gather up brussel sprouts that were spread out around the overturned truck. I received the call from a well-meaning neighbor about this ‘bounty’ but didn’t even bother my mother with the news figuring she had plenty to do with my baby brother, the housework, the gardens, etc.
A few hours later another lady from town (definitely a busybody) showed up at our house with to two grocery bags (the biggest brown paper bags they used before plastic) filled completely to the brim with little green brussel sprouts. At first my mother was thrilled that we were able to partake of the prize, so she cooked up a bunch for dinner. The pan full she prepared didn’t even make a dent in the number we possessed. We ate them with dinner that night drenching them in butter and salt and choking down as many as possible. She continued to steam or boil them for the next couple of nights with each of us growing wearier of them each meal. On the fourth day my mother handed me the bags and sent me down to the chicken coops to dispose of them. With light heart and skipping feet, I carried those blasted veggies out the door, across the yard, through the pasture and out to our clucking poultry where I dumped what had to have been at least 20 pounds of brussel sprouts into the chicken run. The chickens were much like the family--they pecked at them for the first day or two and then they were just digging around them and acting disgusted about being served such nasty food. About a week later, my Dad sent me out there with a rake and a shovel. I had to bury the moldering sprouts because they were rotting on the ground and he was afraid they would make the chickens sick.
In the 37 years since that time, I have NEVER purchased, grown, prepared or eaten a brussel sprout and I don’t plan to, either!
For many years I've wondered why it couldn't have been a candy truck that spilled its load outside of my little town?