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Western Pennsylvania Mensa presents.... Hilda

By Chris Sartori

I met a fascinating woman in church last Sunday. She just moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. Her name is Hilda and she's 78 years old, but she gets around more than I do. She came to live in her daughter's home after she was caught farming in a cemetery. The dedicated gardener was growing tomatoes and peppers around some of the tombstones. Officials didn't even notice until she started using zoo-doo as fertilizer. They received complaints after Hilda spread rhino dung around her eggplants-which happened to be planted on the south side of a prominent Pittsburgh family's mausoleum.

Why zoo-doo? She's a member of the zoo walking club. Every Friday her elephant trainer friend gives her a five pound bag of whatever happens to be dropped that morning.

I inquired as to why she began farming at the cemetery in the first place. She replied, "My balcony planters were full to the brim. I saw all that wasted space across from my apartment and thought I'd use it." And use it she did. At first she just planted edible flowers. Then she expanded and threw in some ornamental herbs, kale, and rhubarb. When she got away with that, Hilda went hog wild and put in an entire vegetable crop. Of course, it wasn't too noticeable because it was spread out all over the graveyard. The lettuce was under the maple tree with the Westin plot. The zucchini were at Benjamino and Sofia Basso's, and the butternut squash were with the Linzenbiegler family. I thought she was especially clever in planting her potatoes with the O'Tooles. Hilda had a good thing going…until she got busted.

But now she's happily settled in the downstairs bedroom at her daughter's place. She has plenty of room in the backyard to garden. And every Friday she rides the bus to the zoo for her walk and five pounds of fertilizer (double bagged, of course). Hilda can grow anything anywhere. One thing she won't be growing is grass under her feet.



Reprinted from the August 1999 issue of THE PHOENIX,
the monthly newsletter of Western Pennsylvania Mensa,
Tamara Wardell, editor.   Reprinted with permission.



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© 1999 Amby Duncan-Carr   and   Chris Sartori   All rights reserved.

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