Trees with tasty treats have disappeared

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Whatever happened to the “chinkapin” (chinquapin) trees, the quince trees and the loquat trees?

Surely all of you who are southern natives are familiar with these editables. I don’t see any of them anymore. I use to see them and eat them all the time when I was growing up. Perhaps you did to.

That chinquapin was a tasty little nut enclosed in a thorny burr and ripened in the fall. A member of the chestnut family, a knife was needed to dig it out. Many roasted them or they could be eaten right out of their shells.

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I learned that cutting back our forests was one of the main reasons they seem to have disappeared. Wild animals also feasted on them, especially foxes and squirrels.

If you want to order some chinquapin plants, I found some Web sites where you can order them. The good thing about growing these plants is the fact they do real well in southern Alabama and northwest Florida.

Loquats were also very popular in my younger days. Unlike a kumquat (cumquat) they are very sweet and juicy. You could tell they were ripe when they turned orange in color. Because of their sweet taste, you found it somewhat difficult to stop eating so many at one time, kind of like trying to lay down peanuts.

Used also for jellies and special desserts it was quite common to find these trees growing on your home yards and lawns. One of the problems growing them was keeping the birds away. If you had a loquat tree in your yard you surely would need a scarecrow.

Now, the quince was a peculiar fruit. It grew on a sizable tree and it had a tough, somewhat tart taste. Some classmates would bring them to school, but I never could understand how they could tolerate such a ‘bitter’ taste. By the same token, many folks used them in making jelly. And, this was also difficult to understand how this fruit could blend into such sweet jelly.

Well, like so many other things of the past, these foods are practically obsolete today. However, I am thinking about ordering some of those “chinkapin” bushes just for old time’s sakes.

I almost forgot about the mulberry trees and the Chinaberry trees. They, too, are not seen very much today like they were years ago. Those sweet mulberries made good jelly too. And, how many of you ever used Chinaberry “bullets” for your pop guns.

Now, taking a look at some local and area news from 1966, George Scoggin, the manager of Thompson’s Fine Clothing, was elected president of the Atmore Jaycees.

W.M. Horton retired as principal of Davisville School and moved back to his former Union, Miss. home. His wife, Bernice, also an educator here, retired that same year.

Andalusia edged out our Little League All-Stars in a district tournament held here. Members of that team were Randy Hall, John Bachelor, Clint Smith, Curt Donaldson, Frankie Dailey, Gilbert Gorum, Larry Smith, Freddie Troutman, Mike Garrard, Don Ward, Julian Thomas, Jimbo Walker, Damon Bell and Charles Wood. John Bachelor Sr. and Heron Hall were the coaches.

Former ECHS basketball coach, Frank Cannon, took a job as physical education instructor at Yancey State (now Faulkner State Community College).

Speaking of that Bay Minette college, a four-year degree can now be earned there. Huntingdon University announced last week their opening a branch for students seeking degrees in business management.

The Montgomery-based college also offers classes at its Daphne facility. In time it is hoped that the university will offer other courses and fields of study at Faulkner.

Huntingdon, the highly regarded Methodist institution was established in Montgomery in 1854.

Our neighboring town of Monroeville continues to experience job losses and this is a great concern to us in the Atmore area because several from here work there. Vanity Fair announced earlier this month layoffs of 68 workers. These employees worked at a VF warehouse on Drewey Road. A number of other layoffs from this plant has occurred over the last few years.

Now Georgia Pacific says, in a news release in the Mobile “Press-Register” Aug. 20 edition, it may “cut its workforce at the newly purchased Alabama River Cellulose Mill and is seeking volunteers to quit in exchange for a severance payment.”

Let’s hope a solution will be found to keep this productive facility in operation. In talking with some of the folks at Wind Creek, I learned that quite a few Monroe county residents have found employment here.

You “weather watchers” had better not give up on this hurricane season. Some of my “expert” friends with whom I worked for 30 years in flood insurance adjusting tell me storms could still be popping up as late as mid-October. No one really knows, but El Nino and La Nina are known to influence environments for storms to flourish. Over these 30 years, I have followed the effects of these two phenomenons and I am very familiar with their influential nature.

Have you been watching our “What’s For Lunch” menus on your e-mails? Give Adam Prestridge and the staff of The Advance credit for a brilliant idea. I have heard some nice comments from friends who keep an eye on those daily specials at our fine local restaurants and eating establishments.

Next week we will take a look at more news from 1966.

“…..yes, it always whispers to me…those days of long ago…”

Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

This week Lowell's column talks the TV on the Internet. | File Photo