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pine nuts
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What Are Pine Nuts
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What Are Pine Nuts

I was in a big-box store today and as usual there were ladies on the aisles handing out a sample or treat and pushing an over-priced product. "This is the new BoJamBo snack pack which are in the freezer behind me. Each pack contains only 27 grams of sugar, an ideal snake to put in your child's lunch. It is only $13.95 for a box of 24 packs."

One sample today was of pine nuts. They were very expensive so I did not buy them but they were very good and no sugar added. Some youngsters might ask, "What are pine nuts." Well, I learned what pine nuts are when I was very young.

In the 1930s men would come around in the fall with gunny sacks (burlap bags) full of pine cones. As I remember they cost one dollar, or even fifty cents, for a bag. The pine cones were very sticky with pine tar, which was very hard to get off your hands ( I think we used lard to get it off), but they had those delicious pine nuts inside and all you had to do was put them on a tray in the oven and bake them. There was some labor required. You had to get the nuts out of the cone after they were baked (roasted). That brought out the hammers and screw drivers.

The pine nuts I sampled in the store brought back the scenes of my childhood on Main Street in Salt Lake City. The Ute Indians came to town from the eastern part of the state dressed in full tribal regalia and they roasted pine nuts right on the street. These they sold to those passing by.

I loved to see those Indians every year, living on the street, but some folks were afraid of the Indians or thought they were a nuisance. Every year these Indians went out into the piñon pines and knocked down the cones with long poles catching them on the ground in a blanket. It was an important part of the economy, income they needed to survive.

But the political leaders of Salt Lake City caved into the minority and kicked them off the street. There was much discussion, protest, and anger but the Ute Indians still lost.

When I was very little my father took me down the stairs under the street by Temple Square to the public restroom. There was a black man down there shining shoes,and to be allowed to do that, he had to clean the restroom. I had never seen a black man before but I had a horrible feeling that something was wrong.

My mother was raised in the mining towns of Utah. When in high school, I brought my Mexican American friend home with me. My mother said, "That is a Mexican!" I broke out laughing. I said, "Mother, I didn't think you had a prejudice bone in your body." She laughed too and my friend was welcome in our home.

But prejudice runs deep. It pops up expectantly. When I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma during the Korean War, we sat in the back seats of the bus that took us into town. The driver stopped and told us to get out of those seats because they were reserved for blacks. We were amazed. However, the guys on another bus who were activated from the New York State National Guard didn't move. They threw the driver off the bus and continued back to the base without him.

We Utah boys were very surprised to see signs in department stores and other public places saying that certain water fountains and restroom where "for colored's." I though that was disgraceful, embarrassing.

My father was kidnapped in Bountiful, Utah in 1900 by Ute Indians. A group of Indians distracted my grandmother at the front door and an Indian woman climbed in the back window and snatched my father. After a couple of weeks of negotiating, mother got my father back with the comment by the Indian lady (not to be called a squaw) that mother had plenty of children and could spare one who she was going to make a Big Chief.

That was my only chance to become a chief too!

Anyway, we need to be careful about how we react to others. Some people in Salt Lake City didn't see the Indians earning a living but instead being a nuisance. Right now there are people in our society who are barely getting by. Some are living out of their cars. Until they can get reestablished into meaningful employment, we need to give them a hand, not restrict their activities.

Fly Old Glory!


Street Talk

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