At the end of each summer while we were growing up, Mom would go into her yearly Canning Frenzy. Out would come what seemed like hundreds of Mason jars in various sizes with their accompanying lids, seals, etc., and Mom’s large canning pot which she would use to heat the jars in order to create a preservative seal for the jars’ contents. Mom canned tomatoes, peaches, applesauce (my favorite), pickles, beets (which I never liked), corn, and even some jams and jellies. This was deemed healthier and more economical than purchasing the equivalent items at the store, and the entire family was involved in the process.
Whether we liked it or not.
The most tedious, grueling, mind numbing task my sister and I were assigned was to snap green beans, and we hated it. We would sit side by side on chairs in the kitchen with a giant bushel of green beans between us. Our job was to snap the stems off the ends of the beans, inspect for and weed out any bad ones, then snap the good ones into approximately one-inch-long pieces so they would fit easily into the canning jars. After what seemed like hours and hours, we would finally get to the bottom of the bushel basket, thinking we had finished.
But no. Another bushel was dumped into the basket and we had to start all over again. This happened over and over and over.
One time, my sister accidentally cut her finger with a paring knife. While she got a break, I continued working resentfully as Mom tended to her wound with antiseptic and a bandage. Before long, however, my sister, much to her disappointment, was back sitting next to me snapping beans.
Clearly, our parents had either never heard of Child Labor laws or, more likely, they just didn’t care.
I have to admit, though: Those green beans tasted pretty good on my dinner plate.