I grew up in a rural community in Cherokee County. One of my boyhood memories from that early life was looking up to see a buckboard wagon coming down the road in front of our farm.
It was drawn by a team of two enormous mules that were twice my height at the withers. It seemed to move so slowly compared to the cars we drove to town. The humble soul driving the team steered his wagon into our driveway and asked about my parents. His words were unintelligible for he had a speech impediment.
But I knew what he intended because he had stopped here many times before. I recognized him as the man who lived up the road who made a simple living by selling his produce. We knew him only by his first name, Hub.
Whether his real name was Hubert, Hutch or Huxley, I did not know. But in the world of a ten-year-old, it didn’t matter.
The world was full of mysteries and this fascinating man and his mules and wagon were simply other characters that periodically appeared. The mules stood by patiently in their heavy leather tack snorting and smacking their lips. In the wagon were bushels of corn, peas, squash and melons.
“Mom, it’s Hub. He’s got corn and peas to sell!”
Mom would come out and greet Hub, buy several bushels of produce and then Hub and that great wagon and mules would proceed down the road slowly making its way out of my world and to another customer. That night, we would feast on fresh corn, purple hull peas and yellow squash.
Remains of squash have been found in Central America and Mexico dating back to 7000 BC. This simple edible gourde was one of several staple vegetables for the Caddo Indians who lived in this very area of Texas.
The Caddos traded squash, red clay pots and other goods along a series of trails stretching from Mexico through Nacogdoches all the way to the New England area. Today we call this trade route The Camino Real.
Squash was undoubtedly one of the foods provided by the Wampanoag people that helped sustain the Plymouth Colony during its first difficult winter.
Yellow squash has a sweet delicate flavor. This month’s recipe combines several mild flavors to create a simple yet delicious side dish. No garlic or strong peppers here; Green onions instead of whole. Fresh parsley provides color contrast and a clean fresh taste. This delicate vegetable is easy to overcook. Cook just until tender and remove from heat.
Many years later as an adult, talking to college students in Nacogdoches, I would refer to when I had first moved to Nacogdoches, “back when they drove wagons down North Street.” Sometimes, it was hard to tell if they knew that I was joking.
But Hub driving his buckboard wagon down our country road was real. And the squash he brought to us was fresh-picked right out of his garden.
Tim Scallon is a registered dietitian nutritionist with years of experience practicing nutrition therapy in local hospitals and clinics, teaching nutrition and developing healthy recipes.
He is a Nacogdoches resident and he helped create the popular TV show Memorial Cooking Innovations celebrating the world of food and health. Memorial Cooking Innovations currently runs in 62 cities and is locally available on Sudden Link cable channel 2 in Nacogdoches.