Mysterious words on the sides of your newly acquired apple crates. Solution?
Sic your internationally-recognized genealogist mother on it.
Mom emails me within 24 hours:
Veto Janto was born in the town of Galen, NY, on 7 Sept. 1895 and died in Clyde, Wayne County, NY in Feb. 1968. He was a farmer. He and his wife May had two children in the 1930 census of the town of Galen, Wayne County, Josephine B. Janto, 8, and Rocco V. Janto, 5.Veto’s son Rocco (Rockie), probably named for his paternal grandfather, died at the age of 87 in April 2012 (b. May 3, 1924.) His obituary says he was the son of “Vito & Mar Sapp Janto” [sic]. The “Vito” spelling is probably the original, and I suspect the surname was changed somewhere along the line. From the obit:“Rockie was a successful and innovative fruit, dairy and cash crop farmer for over 70 years. He was the recipient of the Cornell Conservation Farmer of the Year Award for his skillful knowledge in the field of farming and agriculture. He was a past member of the Wayne County Planning Board. Rockie loved spending his free time with his family and grandchildren on the farm.”
But there’s the students, not here, not laughing and crying with you. And Syria. And whole city-wide school systems failing, and not enough food.
Solution. I don’t know.
But it has something to do with understanding where your apple crates come from. Remembering that the man who used them, and his son after him, cultivated the land along the shore of Lake Ontario.
It has something to do with Seamus Heaney– what he saw, what he remembered, what he honored. The man who used the spade, and his son after him.
Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests.
Like Veto and Rocco Janto– like Seamus’ father– and like Seamus.
I’ll dig with it.
DiggingBetween my finger and my thumbThe squat pen rests; snug as a gun.Under my window, a clean rasping soundWhen the spade sinks into gravelly ground:My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbedsBends low, comes up twenty years awayStooping in rhythm through potato drillsWhere he was digging.The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaftAgainst the inside knee was levered firmly.He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deepTo scatter new potatoes that we picked,Loving their cool hardness in our hands.By God, the old man could handle a spade.Just like his old man.My grandfather cut more turf in a dayThan any other man on Toner’s bog.Once I carried him milk in a bottleCorked sloppily with paper.He straightened upTo drink it, then fell to right awayNicking and slicing neatly, heaving sodsOver his shoulder, going down and downFor the good turf.Digging.The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slapOf soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edgeThrough living roots awaken in my head.But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.Between my finger and my thumbThe squat pen rests.I’ll dig with it.Seamus Heaney