Wild collards

My dad grew up in a poor, single-mother family in LA during the Fifties. Every Sunday, the family would walk to church, along roads that were bordered by empty lots (this is before LA became the overdeveloped city it is today) where collard greens often grew wild. My dad and his siblings would leave the house in their Sunday dresses and suits, carrying old pillowcases or flour sacks, and wearing their everyday shoes. Their good shoes – worn only on Sundays, and only during church services – were in their sacks.

When my grandmother spotted a collard plant, the kids would tramp through the lot, pick the leaves, and stuff them into their cases. They did this until their bags were full (or until they were late to church). When they got to the vestibule just inside the church, they’d change into their good shoes, placing their everyday shoes on top of their bags to mark their bags as their own. Many other families had the same idea, so the back of the church was lined with old pillowcases full of collard greens.

I’ve always loved this story. My dad talks about fighting with his brother and sisters over who got to eat the pork in the can of pork and beans – they were that poor. But on Sunday nights, at least, there was always a little bit extra.

Nowadays, you can buy pre-washed and cut greens in neat bags at Trader Joe’s. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this – I buy them all the time. But every time I go to the farmers market and see a big box of dusty collards, or every time I pass a collard plant in a rare empty lot in San Francisco, I remember my grandmother. I’m always thankful that hunger is so far from my own reality, but wonder if, through the packaging of the most elemental foods, we’ve lost a connection to a bit of our own history.

(And, yes, I took that photo San Francisco, in an empty lot in Bayview, across the street from a solar installtion event Brightline was sponsoring. I was so tempted to pick those greens!)

19 thoughts on “Wild collards”

  1. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility
    issues. When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but
    when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that,
    awesome blog!

  2. Great article! That is the type of information that should be shared across the web.
    Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this
    post upper! Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)

  3. Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this
    site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m
    definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and terrific style and design.

  4. hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up anything new from
    right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this web
    site, as I experienced to reload the site many times previous to I could get
    it to load correctly. I had been wondering if
    your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if
    ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective exciting content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

  5. I just want to mention I am newbie to weblog and seriously liked your blog. Likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly have wonderful posts. Thanks for revealing your website.

  6. I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your very early messages. Continue to maintain the very good operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for onward to finding out more from you later on!?

  7. There are definitely a lot of information like that to consider. That is a great point to bring up. I use the ideas above as general ideas yet clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where one of the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t recognize if finest techniques have actually emerged around points like that, but I am sure that your task is clearly recognized as a level playing field. Both boys and also ladies feel the effect of simply a moment?s enjoyment, for the rest of their lives.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top