"You'll probably think this is anal," Theriault laughes, but I don't water them with the hose for the first two months."
There are heirlooms and hybrids, many with curious names like "mortgage lifter," "early girls," "Fourth of Julys" and others. "This one's ready," Theriault says, plucking a nice, juicy looking porterhouse from a stalk. His eyes dart from plant to plant, leaf to leaf. "The main (insect) problem is the hornworm," he says. "It's the biggest caterpillar you'll ever see. I've been doing this so long I can spot them from a distance."
And way back in August 1937, George Peno of Manchester Omega Seamaster 300m Wrist Shot
fresh or give it to friends, we canned it."
Time was, in this wacky, fickle world of community newspapering, gigantic or otherwise freaky fruits and vegetables ranked right up there with the latest from City Hall, the school board and the political squabble du jour on our local news radar.
"He grew everything," Theriault said of his father, who passed about 10 years ago. "Since I was born, our whole yard was fruit and vegetable plants. This is back when there were two houses on Eighth Street, so we had the room."
While his backyard doesn't really resemble his father's there's actually quite a bit of lawn showing, a comprimise, Theriault said, worked out with his wife, Susan, who "didn't want me to take Omega Brown Leather Strap over the whole yard," the tall, robust tomato plants rimming his deck are a sight to behold.
As for the "freak bean" photo, which I probably captured on Kodak 120 film with one of our twin lens reflex Yashica box cameras, Theriault remembers the "star" well: "That bean weighed 78 pounds and was 4 feet long. I think my dad woke us up (for the photo), looks like we got puffy eyes," he says with a laugh.
The boys are Mike and Rob Theriault, probably around 6 and 9 years of age, respectively, wearing facial expressions that shout "I'd rather be anywhere else right now." But a couple of weeks ago, a clipping of the photo, laminated for posterity, brought more than a few chuckles around the newsroom when Mike, now 42 and probably the most conscientious backyard tomato grower around, called in, wondering if a reporter might want to break his or her summer boredom and come photograph and write about his prize tomatoes.
"The guy said, 'Shalhoup? Ohmygod, he's still here!' " Theriault said with a laugh as we chatted at his Lund Street home this week. "No offense, I just figured it was so long ago"
Street "brought in the queerest cucumber to the Telegraph garden editor the freak cuke resembles a ship, complete with mast and sail," it was reported. "The oddity was in reality a Siamese twin cuke consisting of a large, bow shaped cuke and a tiny one perched on top. An extra stem at one end had a sail like leaf."
For Theriault, tomato season arrives on March 1, when pots of freshly sown seeds rim his three season room turned nursery for a couple of months. "When it's warm they go out on the deck to sunbathe," he says. "This has been an incredible year for weather; if your tomatoes didn't succeed this year, it's all your fault."
Theriault refreshed my memory: His late dad, Edgar, was a voracious gardener who, for kicks, sometimes set certain plants aside to see just how big he could coax a tomato or bean or whatever to grow. In their backyard on a much less populated Eighth Street, Edgar Theriault doted over rows and rows of fruit and vegetable plants, eagerly mentoring his sons in the tricks of the trade starting when they were knee high to a sprig.
Once in the ground, which Theriault initially prepared by "digging down three feet and composting" when he moved in 15 years ago, the fledgling plants are pampered better than Paris Hilton's lapdogs.
A couple dozen freshly harvested tomatoes, destined for one of his many culinary creations, sit on the deck railing.
of quirky little things like cutting the heads off matchsticks to give the sulfur to the pepper plants." The chores earned him coins that he promptly converted to ice cream cones and a few "Mr. Misty" treats at Dairy Queen.
Not to worry, I assured him; one gets used to such reactions after 37 years (jeez, it'll be 38 next month) in the same place.
Carrying his father's passed down passion into adulthood, Theriault first lived on Gilman Street, where, he said, he grew his biggest tomato yet. "I hit just over 4 (pounds) with that one; I grew it off of a seed from my dad," he said. The world record for a tomato stands at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, Theriault says, but he'd be happy hitting the 5 pound mark. "I've been chasing that for years," he said. "Maybe someday."
A quick look back to the "freak veggies and fruits are big news" days of 5 and 10 cent Telegraphs shows that on Aug. 30, 1947, Frank Zukowski of Fairmount Street rushed down to the newsroom with a tomato that "resembles a lobster, with two hefty claws." And exactly 62 years ago today, Aug. 21, 1948, 11 year old Leo Gustitus of 14 McLaren Ave. pulled a carrot from his garden that "looks just like a hand, complete with thumb and four fingers," the Telegraph announced. "He hustled it down to the newsroom where its difference from the usual vegetable was duly noted."
A child of the Depression, the elder Theriault had an unbendable rule, his son said. "Nothing went to waste," he said. "If we didn't eat it Omega Speedmaster 38 Cappuccino
OK, why? "The water's too cold," he says. Instead, he fills a series of 5 gallon buckets and sets them in the sun for a day. "Tomatoes like warm, moist feet. The water (straight from the hose) isn't warm enough until July."
Upon learning he had the clipping, a reporter asked if there was a credit line that named the potographer. "Yeah, it says 'Shalhoup,' " Theriault answered, certain he'd hear a response like, "Oh, yes, he retired years ago" or "Yep, I've heard of him, I think he died awhile back."
Take, for instance, a black and white photo of two boys with a giant bean stretched across their laps yes, the type you steam and force on the kids or whip into a three bean salad that appeared in the Telegraph sometime in the mid 70s. The caption begins, "Freak Vegetable Grown Here," and indeed, the thing looks more like an elongated watermelon than a stringbean.
City man follows in his green thumb dad's footsteps
Theriault recalls some of his earliest tasks, which he called "a bunch Omega Constellation Women's Watch Price
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