Jacksonville, Texas — Tomato Capital of the World

Customized concrete tomatoes in Jacksonville, Texas, the “Tomato Capital of the World.”

Jacksonville, Texas, was once known as the Tomato Capital of the World in the 1930’s. The town still celebrates its tomato history with a Tomato Fest the second Saturday each June with many activities, including a tomato eating contest, tomato peeling contest, tomato packing contest, best home grown tomato contest, tomato archery — you get the picture! All things tomato. More than 200 vendors sell tomatoes.

A metal flamingo and a concrete tomato hang out at a Jacksonville, Texas, restaurant.

Visitors can take a tour of the at least 175 concrete tomatoes throughout the city, which were sold to businesses and other institutions in the city by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce to promote its tomato history.

It’s fun to see how each business and public office decorated its tomato, each of which weigh 665 pounds. A Dairy Queen tomato looks like an ice cream cone, a business with a tropical decor decorated its concrete tomato to look like a beach ball, the McDonald’s tomato looks like a box of french fries. Other businesses feature their logos on the tomato.

Love’s Lookout Park is north of Jacksonville, Texas, and is worth a visit, especially if you’re on your way to or from Tyler. The park features a landscaped rest stop, a great view and concrete tomatoes.

About Jacksonville, Texas, Tomato Fest.

See more tomatoes at Love’s Lookout Park, north of Jacksonville.
Love’s Lookout Park.

Jacksonville, Texas, Tomato Capital of the World.

Jacksonville, Texas, the Tomato Capital.

In the fall, this Jacksonville produce stand featured tomatoes along with pumpkins.

Click on the thumbnails to see a full size of each photo.

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The Hoggs of Texas

The Jim and Sallie Hogg Honeymoon Cottage is located in the Governor Jim Hogg Park in Quitman, Texas, which was the first home of Governor and Sallie Hogg (Sarah Ann Leannah Stinson).

Americans might not know the names of many governors from states other than their own, especially not from decades ago, but Governor James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg (March 24, 1851 – March 3, 1906) of Texas could be an exception. Hogg was known to be a great governor, but non-Texans might recognize his name from the name he gave his only daughter: Ima.  Some joked that he had a second daughter named Ura, but Ima had only brothers, who had ordinary names — Will, Mike and Tom.

Ima’s name was taken from The Fate of Marvin, an epic poem written by her uncle Thomas Hogg.  Ima (July 10, 1882 – August 19, 1975) didn’t like her name, and had no middle name, so she often used only her first initial.   As soon as he heard of his new granddaughter’s odd name, Ima’s maternal grandfather raced to his son-in-law’s house to protest, but Ima had already been christened. She never married and kept her last name until she died.

Ima Hogg, around 1900, from Wikipedia.

Ima was known as “The First Lady of Texas.” She was an American society leader, philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, and one of the most respected women in Texas during the 20th century,  Her father  was a lawyer, state attorney general and the 20th Governor of Texas.  He was the first Texas governor to have been born in Texas and was governor from 1891 to 1895.  I first thought of writing about Jim Hogg when I saw a highway named after him near Tyler, Texas, which I often visit.  Other places in Texas are named for him, too.

 Jim Hogg County in southern Texas is named after him.  There is a Jim Hogg Historic Site near Rusk, Hogg’s birthplace.

In 1906, Governor Hogg asked that a pecan tree be planted at his grave instead of a traditional headstone, requesting that the seeds be distributed throughout the state to make Texas a “Land of Trees”.  His wish was carried out and this brought more attention to pecan trees. In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of Texas.  The Texas town of  San Saba claims to be “The Pecan Capital of the World.”

Governor Jim Hogg became his political career in Wood County, a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,964. Its county seat is Quitman. The county was named for George T. Wood, governor of Texas from 1847 to 1849.

Wood County Courthouse, Quitman, Texas.

 

To learn about the Hogg family’s contributions to the state of Texas, as well as what Ima thought about her unusual name, click on these links:

About Ima Hogg of Texas.

About Texas Governor Jim Hogg.

About Governor Jim Hogg Park in Quitman, Texas.

Jim Hogg Historic Site, Rusk, Texas.

About The Jim Hogg Highway, near Mineola, Texas.

Another famous name associated with Quitman, Texas, is the actress Sissy Spacek, who was born in the town and has a street there named after her.

A street in Quitman, Texas, is named for the actress Sissy Spacek, a native of the town.

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That’s a Lot of Bull

Three cowboys round up bulls after their purchase at an auction in Texas.

Cow looking for relationship:  Loves sunset strolls in the pasture, adores hay breakfasts at dawn, enjoys afternoon naps in the shade of an oak tree, likes hanging out with my friends around the water tank.

Finding the right bull for a cattle herd isn’t quite as romantic as that.  Sale brochures list the bull’s assets, which include parentage, size of various body parts, weight and statistics on various aspects of parenting success.  Looks do count, too.

Livestock trailers are lined up at a cattle auction in Texas.

I recently went to a cattle auction at a ranch in northeast Texas, where about 80 bulls and 80 cows were auctioned.  Buyers can read the details about each bull and cow online, in addition to a large, informative brochure.  Each animal has its own video, which is displayed on several screens in the sale barn when the animal comes up for auction. The auction is a labor intensive endeavor, including the auctioneer staff, the barbecue lunch crew for the meal beforehand, people who create the extensive marketing materials, crew to care for the animals and cowboys to round up and load the animals.  Buyers come from hundreds of miles away.

Four auctioneers take bids at a cattle auction in Texas.

Bulls for sale at an auction in Texas.

 

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The Hottest Pepper in the World

The harvested crop of Carolina Reaper hot peppers are a brilliant scarlet. We’ve probably picked a peck of peppers, and there are more on the plants!

Last year, a friend gave my husband one Carolina Reaper hot pepper, considered to be among the hottest peppers in the world.  After my husband used the pepper very sparingly in chili and other dishes, he saved and planted the seeds.   The seeds sprouted and prospered.  He repotted the plants as they grew.  He kept four plants and gave away several more pots of pepper plants to friends and family, who said they liked hot peppers.  As the plants grew even larger, he gave away two more.  The remaining two plants produced enough hot peppers to destroy the taste buds of the population of our county.  The peppers didn’t seem to be as hot as the original pepper (the Scoville Scale link below explains why that might be the case), but they were still very hot — too hot for me!

Half of the ripe Carolina Reaper peppers have already been picked from these plants. Very prolific!

Many people do enjoy really hot peppers.  Last year, I attended (as an observer) the Hot Pepper Eating Contest in Palestine, Texas.  This year (2017), the Palestine Hot Pepper  Festival is Oct. 21. Links to the festival and my blog post about 2016’s festival are below.

The early growing stages of my husband’s Carolina Reaper hot pepper crop.

 

My husband kept four Carolina reaper plants, but eventually gave two more away. Like many pepper varieties, the Carolina Reapers start green, then turn yellow. In their ripe stage, they are a beautiful brilliant red color.

 

 

The City of Palestine, Texas, Hot Pepper Festival.

The Scoville Scale Measuring the Hotness of Pepper Varieties.

The Hottest Little Festival in Texas.

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Why Is There a Ship Hanging in a Church?

Aarhus Cathedral Votive Ship Poster

Aarhus Cathedral, Denmark, Votive Ship.

In many churches in Scandinavia, you’ll see a ship hanging from the ceiling, a symbol of how important the sea is to the Nordic people. The ship reflects an old Nordic tradition of giving offerings for the protection of loved ones at sea and is a reminder of those lost at sea. The ship models are often called votive ships.

The ship model in the Aarhus, Denmark, Cathedral originally served another purpose — it was among those created (probably in the Netherlands) to show Russian Czar Peter the Great what the ships he ordered would look like. The cathedral’s ship (dated 1720) is named Enigheden (English: Unity). The ship carrying the model, however, sunk near the northern coast of Denmark, a reminder of the dangers of the sea. The model survived in good shape and was purchased by Danish fishermen as a gift to the cathedral, which is the largest church in Denmark. The Aarhus Cathedral model ship is also the largest votive ship in Denmark.

Akureyri Church Interior, Iceland Photo Print

Ship model hanging in Akureyri Lutheran Church in Akureyri, Iceland.

What is a Votive Ship?

More Photos of Aarhus Cathedral Ship.

About Aarhus Cathedral.

About Akureyri Church.

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Robert Louis Stevenson “Talks Like a Pirate”

Robert Louise Stevenson is the official spokesman for “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” celebrated on September 19, but enjoyed every day. https://catherinesherman.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/official-spokesman-for-talk-like-a-pirate-day/

Catherine Sherman

A portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by John Singer Sargent. A portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by John Singer Sargent.

Yes, it’s that time of year again — Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming soon. Brush up on your sailor slang, pirate patois and buccaneer bravado.

My first thought when I saw the 1950 movie “Treasure Island” wasn’t “Hey, me hearties, I love how those pirates talk.” I had a school girl crush on one of the actors — Bobby Driscoll, the boy who plays Jim Hawkins, and I swooned over his more upper crust accent. (By the way, I’m not that old. The 1950 movie was many years old when I saw it.) I became smitten with the fantasy of finding treasure, of treasure maps, of being a stole-away.

I have Robert Louis Stevenson to thank for my adventure fantasies. Stevenson published “Treasure Island” in 1883. Since then, more than fifty movies and television shows have been made…

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The Smallest Church in Iceland

Silfrastadakirkja Church in Iceland Photo Print

 

Driving around Iceland, you can see many small churches on the hillsides, mountain slopes and next to farm buildings.  On a visit to Iceland in August 2017, we saw this small church, Silfrastadakirkja, in northcentral Iceland.

The current Silfrastadakirkja Church was built in 1896, replacing the old church from 1842 that now is in Arbaejarsafn Museum in Reykjavik. According to a description I found of this church, this “new” church is thought to be one of the smallest if not the smallest church in Iceland. It is also octagonal, which is unusual. It sits next to a farm house. In the foreground is a hay field with hay bales wrapped in plastic to protect against moisture. A heavy fog hangs over the mountain behind the church.

Like many of the small churches in Iceland, Silfrastadakirkja is white with a red roof. Blue is also another popular color for church roofs. Despite the similarities, each Icelandic church has unique features.   In addition to the old churches, there are several new ones built in contemporary designs.

 

Silfrastadakirkja Church in Iceland Photo Print

Locations of Churches in Iceland.

 

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