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Conesville watermelons remind me of back home in Indiana

They tell me that is the best watermelon in the world.

So said Tom Husnik as I walked in for the Noon Kiwanis meeting on Tuesday. The melons at La Reyna come from Conesville, Iowa, where they have good sandy ground.

Of course, I thought as those words rolled out of Tom’s mouth. Any southwestern Indiana boy who grew up near to the Wabash River, knew that.

However, a protest was made about calling them the best watermelons. Corn maybe; hogs and beef cattle. OK.

But watermelons.

No thank you.

That was a Hoosier honor and had been for about 150 years. The title of Watermelon Capitol of the World had been traded up and down the Indiana side of the Wabash River. Even my hometown claimed the title in 1876.

Now, I never really conducted any research on just how the Watermelon Capitol of the World was determined. I always suspected it was volume and not quality.

So it goes.

I just new that anytime we cut one open out in the back yard it was the sweetest thing I could imagine. Of course when I worked picking them, cutting one from the vine and eating it right there was the absolute best. It was not almost heaven. It was.

Most of the ground along the Wabash River between the Ohio River and Terre Haute was good sandy ground, the type needed for good drainage of the roots. The Capitol of the World title was traded up and down the Wabash River. In 1876, my little town of Oaktown shipped out more watermelons than anyone else.

As I was growing up, several melon stands dotted the edge of Highway 41. Not fruit stands. They didn’t have peaches or apples or green beans and sweet corn.

Watermelons and cantaloupes. Stripes, Charleston Greys. Black Diamonds. The Moon and Stars.

Out back of our house, Grandpa grew icebox watermelons.

Well, it finally came time for the taste test. I loaded up a couple of good-sized pieces and was pleasantly surprised. It was the best tasting melon I’d had in quite some time.

As good as one from Oaktown, Knox County, Ind.

Of course not. That’s impossible.

But it’s an excellent second choice.