Everyday Companions


By Ernest L. White

Hampton Union, ca. 1940s and 1950s

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

I don't rightly know what this *friend of mine had in mind when he asked me to write a little article on onions. He'd been making me a visit and I had been talking and explaining to him about different things while he listened, 'cause I didn't give him any chance to talk. Then by and by he stood up and said he'd better be going, but he'd sure like for me to write a little treatise on "onions" sometime, and so I'm going to.

Somehow, though I think he had some sarcastic meaning in his request but maybe he is sort of ignorant on the subject and really wanted information so I'm going to give him a few facts and ideas about onions.

And just because it's easier for me to tell you about onions by comparing them to people I'm going to sort of moralize names I generally end up by doing no matter what I'm writing about. I know it's a bad habit, but I can't seem to break myself of it.

Onions start right off being onions,. They start to grow even when the weather's sort of cold and not fitting for tender plants and they have characteristics right from the start that tells folks of any experience that they are onions. They send up only a stalk or two and don't grow much foliage to hide or cover up their real selves. No, they just stand up and say right out loud, "we're onions!" And 'cause they don't have much foliage to cover up and camouflage themselves, the weeds have a good chance to grow and show up prominent like. That means the gardener has to get down on his knees a whole lot when the onions are young and pull out the weeds or they will choke the life out of the onions. So if you are a strong, pungent, "stand out in the open," person you ought to get down on your knees a whole lot if you want to keep the weeds from choking yer. (Know what I mean?)

Yeh! Seems to me some folks have lots of the characteristics of onions. They start off early in life and grow, even if the weather ain't fit for tender people. Some folks call 'em strong pungent and invigorating individuals and make use of them a whole lot. Especially do they use them to flavor and give life and zest and appetitie to other-wise tasteless or mild flavored events. On the other hand there are folks who won't make any use of them, claim they stink, make them cry and give them a pain in their tunmmys.

There you have two different ideas about the same subject and two different kinds of folks, if you follow me.

Some people enjoy eating onions and hob-nobing with folks who have characteristics of an onion. And then there's the other folks who don't like onions or any person that reminds them of an onion.

Now the question does that *guy who asked me to write about onions like them or not, and what the heck made him think of onions when he looked at me. And did he think my opinions and ideas that I expressed to him have a spicy, pungent, invigorating odor or does he think they stink?

Another question I've been asking myself, sort of symbolic like; did the guy* notice the weeds growing rank in my onion patch and did he think it would be a good idea if I got down on my knees end did some weeding? Figuratively speaking you know.

Ed. Note: *....."the guy, Mr. Ernest L. White had reference to, was his neighbor, teen-age John M. Holman, who bet him that he couldn't write a column on 'Onions'. Mr. White did just that!!"