Calvin Ijames; The year of the tomato

Published 8:46 am Thursday, July 26, 2018

Calvin Ijames made a positive difference in this world.

He wanted everyone to be their best, and did more than his part to help them reach that goal.

At age 84, the Mocksville resident died on Monday, July 16. He leaves behind not only a loving and devoted family, but a grateful and admiring community.

Calvin Ijames was one of those men we could all look up to – black or white, Baptist or Methodist, Republican or Democrat. He was just a great man.

You know it wasn’t easy for the young black man growing up in Davie County in the 1930s and 40s. But he excelled.

He went to the White House as a teen-ager, invited to meet then President Harry Truman. He was president of the National Farmers of America. Everywhere he went, he made his mark, leaving a little bit of Davie County good with those he had met.

A hard worker. You bet. He often held more than one job, influencing people along the way.

Calvin Ijames had a sense to know when someone was hurting. He also knew how to help. He and wife Vertie became involved with The Compassionate Friends, a group to help bereaved parents (Their son Jeff died in 1983.). Calvin pretty much started the local chapter, and went on to serve on the group’s national board. He even wrote a book to help Christians who were hurting, titled “Survival Tools for the Christian Journey.” It’s a resource that will long outlive Calvin Ijames, giving people the tools they need to survive in this crazy world.

I may be wrong, but I think he is the only African-American to ever be elected to an office in Davie County, having served on the board of education.

Yes, Calvin Ijames is gone, but his life is one well lived, one that we should look up to, one that should be taught to children – espcially those of color – to let them know that with hard work and the right attitude, anything can be accomplished.

• • • • •

2018 is now officialy “The Year of the Tomato.”

Last year, few gardeners had a healthy tomato crop. This year, tomatoes are everywhere. Little ones, big ones, heirlooms, hybrids – they’re all happy.

A member of the Deep Roots Community Garden in Mocksville, it’s now hard to walk between the raised beds. The tomato plants are so large they’re falling over into the aisles. Last year, the plants were no problem and stayed well in control. This year, there’s even enough to keep the birds and groundhogs fed with plenty left to take home.

At our house, we’ve had tomato sandwiches. We’ve had cherry tomatoes in a salad. We’ve made a salad out of cherry tomatoes. We’ve had pico de gallo made from the cherry tomatoes. We’ve had tomatoes on hamburgers, ham sandwiches. We’ve had tomatoes with eggs in the morning. We’ve had BLTs. Heck, we’ve had sliced tomatoes as a side dish several times.

While I love them, after a couple of weeks, I have to take a day or two off from eating tomatoes. But the vines keep producing.

We’ve prepared many tomato dishes – but as of yet, no tomato pie. My wife loves tomato pie. I don’t even want to be in the same room with someone eating tomato pie. My wife tells me it’s all in my mind. I agree, but it’s up to me to keep my mind happy, and I can’t do that by eating tomato pie.

Ok, enough rambling. It’s time for lunch, anyway.

On the menu today: tomato sandwiches. Duke’s mayonaise spread on both sides of sliced bread (Traditionalists require soft, white bread; at our house and at our age, whole wheat bread gets the nod.), black pepper on the mayonaise, and healthy slices of tomato sprinkled with salt. On the side, cucumbers that have been bathing in a vinegar brine.

      – Mike Barnhardt