Vi Chronicles: How to Raise a Thief

Hi World,

My  mother, Violet, had two sisters and seven kids. I was the youngest of my mother’s kids, and the youngest cousin.

On the day I learned to steal, the three sisters, Vi (my mother), Tee and Lula,  found themselves a pick-up truck and a willing teen-age driver.  They packed a cooler with ice, coffee brandy and kool-aid, and hit the road.  I’m sure there was another cooler full of sandwiches, but the coffee brandy cooler is the one that sticks in my mind because I was sitting on it, and every time a sister would hand her travel cup through the back window, I would have to move so that one of the older kids could  whip up a White Russian, or a Vodka and 7, if the sisters were dieting..

The sisters were squished in the front, and the assorted kids piled into the bed of the truck, with the aforementioned coolers.  For obvious reasons, this is now illegal, but back then it was an acceptable way to pass a lazy summer day, and keep a lot of kids occupied.  My memory of that day is distilled to one long,  flat stretch of road. The driver hit the gas, and we  flew down that road, the  wind whipping our hair into our eyes and dust flying everywhere, as we laughed at each other, raising our hands into the air to feel the wind fly through our fingers. Except for me.  I did not participate in the finger waving because I was hanging on for dear life, trying to calculate my trajectory should we hit a bump the wrong way.  I’m not called Chicken for no reason.

We came upon a corn field, and I guess the sisters decided corn was as good a dinner as anything, so the driver swerved to the gravel.  The kids all piled out and into the fields, like well-trained soldiers.  We grabbed as much  corn as we could carry and ran back to the truck.  The whole operation took about five minutes.  Then we squealed back out, onto the blacktop, and headed for home, where the ill-gotten gains were husked, cooked, and gleefully consumed, under the watchful eye of Aunt Dot.  Aunt Dot was the Aunt of the Sisters.  She made the biggest chocolate chip cookies in the history of the universe, and she accused everyone of stealing and cheating at cards.  Aunt Dot was a sore loser at cards but we didn’t hold it against her.  When you live in the company of a giant cookie architect, you forgive a few things.  Plus, given the corn thievery, it’s possible that her paranoia was justified.

I’m  not sure why the sisters thought stealing corn was acceptable behavior. Maybe they assumed that the farmer wouldn’t have planted his corn so close to the road if he didn’t count on a certain percentage of his harvest being heisted.  Or, maybe, they thought the farmer should have built a fence if he didn’t want to share.  More likely, after the White Russians (or Vodka and 7 if the Sisters were dieting), they thought it was funny.

For me, at an impressionable almost-eight years, corn was a gateway vegetable. I assumed  everyone’s garden was up for grabs.  I wandered the neighborhood vegetable patches, helping myself to radishes, rhubarb, cucumbers and whatever else looked edible in its raw state.  I began hanging out with the wrong crowd, and moved on to night raids.  On crisp fall evenings, when we were supposedly having a sleepover, we infiltrated the neighboring apple orchard.  Then we went home, made popcorn, and got out the Ouija board.  We stayed up ’til well past midnight, chomping apples, throwing popcorn, and talking about kissing. Just a normal Saturday night in the life of a seasoned produce thief.

This behavior continued until I was about 12 and determined, for myself, that stealing is wrong.  The attack dogs in Lucarelli’s Orchard may have played a part in my sudden streak of conscience.  Not that I ever actually  saw an attack dog in Lucarelli’s Orchard, but that didn’t matter.  We knew they were there.

Hello World, I’m Chicken!  I’m a recovering produce thief.  (Welcome Chicken).

These days, I buy my vegetables at the farmers market.   Or Whole Foods.  Basically, I’ll  shop wherever there are no rumors of attack dogs.

Chicken out

Corn begging to be stolen

  10 comments for “Vi Chronicles: How to Raise a Thief

  1. September 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    First I blamed it on the squirrels
    Next I blamed it on the rabbits
    Then I blamed it on the deer
    Now I know what happened to my squash.
    Dang you


  2. September 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    A wonderful way to find peace is to not steal at all.
    I loved your story,it brings clear images of youth and mischievous irresponsible heaven, one more of the lost paradise processes that we go through in life.
    It has the sound of a great memories.


  3. September 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Corn begs to be stolen.

    But I'm glad you're on the straight and narrow now. 🙂



  4. September 13, 2013 at 1:26 am

    This was delightful! There was a time when trespassing and sampling was part of growing up. Strangely, I do not think it produced thieves but people of conscience who pay forward. It was a world less crowded, its lessons simpler.


  5. September 13, 2013 at 1:54 am

    I'm sorry SS. On second thought, No I'm not. That squash was delish! Thank you.


  6. September 13, 2013 at 1:54 am

    mischievous is a good word for the sisters, Carlos:-) Thank you


  7. September 13, 2013 at 1:56 am

    I'm in constant danger of a relapse, Pearl. Let's just say it*might* be inadvisable to leave me alone in your garden:-)


  8. September 13, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Thank you, Geo. I think you are right:-)


  9. September 13, 2013 at 3:18 am

    They say stolen kisses are sweeter; is stolen corn sweeter, too? 🙂

    Did your aunt truly not have any idea how you got the corn? That's kind of amazing!


  10. September 13, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Hi Jenny-I wouldn't know about the stolen kisses. I earned all mine. But stolen produce definitely has an edge over purchased. Aunt Dot? Oh, she wasn't the innocent she seemed. No worries.


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