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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do You Remember Crockett's Victory Garden?


Do any of you remember "Crockett's Victory Garden?" It was on Saturday afternoon along with "Julia Child..French Chef" and of course, "This Old House." I can't remember but it seemed to me that there were several cooking shows on too..."Justin Wilson's Cajun Cook, Yan can cook"...etc. My husband worked on Saturday and that left the whole day for me to garden and housework in the early part of the day, and while supper was cooking...settle down and watch the shows. Jim Crockett was one of my favorites. A gentle man, wearing the same outfit every week. A faded denim shirt and blue jeans. I was just starting out in gardening and he taught me so much. The Victory Garden, America’s oldest gardening program, was first conceived in 1975 in response to the tough economy of the early 70’s and an increased interest in self-sufficiency after the Arab Oil embargo. The show’s creator was Russell Morash. His wife Marian came on at the end of the show to cook and give a healthy recipe.
Russell thought that it was high time that people got back to practicalities in their own backyards, and in fact, the title itself was chosen to harken back to the homespun Victory Gardens of World War I and II. Accordingly, each of the early programs showed viewers how to get the most from their own plot of land, both in terms of flowers and vegetable gardening. James "Jim" Underwood Crockett was the original host of PBS's The Victory Garden , then called Crockett's Victory Garden. He had been chosen by producer Russell Morash because he had previously written several gardening books Although Jim had no television experience, he was no stranger to the garden : a past director of the American Horticultural Society, Jim had spent 34 years advising gardeners and commercial growers on vegetable and flower gardening, not to mention being the author of 15 books, including several of the early Victory Garden volumes. His friendly, down-to-earth, you-can-do-it style quickly made the show one of the most popular programs on public television, and made Jim an icon of American gardening.During the 1979-80 gardening season Bob Thompson arrived on the scene, first as a short-term replacement for the ailing Crockett, and then as full-time host after Crockett’s death from cancer. But Bob rose to the sad occasion, and brought with him the same affable spirit that Victory Garden fans had come to expect from the show. I never did warm up to Bob Thompson...and starting to work brought the end to my afternoon of television. I have one of Jim's books and refer to it often. It is a treasure to me.

Balisha

13 comments:

Crayons said...

Yes! I do remember that line-up. Unfortunately I was too young to really be interested in the gardening show, but I was able to grasp the idea, the motivation for the show. Weren't those great times? I really felt like something great was happening. My parents gave me a "Foxfire" book for my birthday one year. There were food coops. I attended an alternative school. There was a grace, humility and simplicity that seem to be missing in many of the well-intentioned institutions of this century.

Thanks for remembering this.

nancybond said...

I watch The Victory Garden (and the following cooking shows...all of them!) on Saturday's on PBS-Boston. It's my favourite way to spend the afternoon. :)

Margie's Musings said...

Ah yes! I recall that show.

Nell Jean said...

I do. I have that same book. It's time to read what he says about Paperwhite Narcissus, to have blooms in time for Christmas.

Barbee' said...

Thanks for resurrecting those memories. I used to never miss that show, but when we moved here in '89 my life changed so much, I quit watching it. I have many hours of it on video tape.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I've heard of him of course, but never saw the show. (Somehow I managed to miss all the people you mentioned.) I'm sure he would be happy knowing you still think of him and were inspired by his book.
Marnie

Racquel said...

He was a bit before my time unfortunately. I discovered the Victory Garden in the late 80's and have been an avid fan to this day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just was reading my copy of Crocketts Victory Garden, that I received as a kid in 1978. I remember the show and was an avid viewer. I grew a small garden in Los Altos, California, and even entered a contest that the show sponsored. A representative even came out to my home to see the garden. For a 16 year old kid, It was quite overwhelming. I did not place, but remember that event to this day.

Anonymous said...

I always watched and enjoyef Crocketts Victory Garden. He was a great host....

Charles said...

Does anyone remember the name of the great garden (botanical garden?) in the Boston or New England area that Jim Crockett used to visit periodically on his show? I would like to visit it but have not been able to locate it.

Balisha said...

Charles...I checked this on the internet and this is what I found:

There have been four main Victory Gardens over the show's history; the first beside WGBH's Allston, Massachusetts, studios; the second at Lexington Gardens Nursery in Lexington, Massachusetts; the third was at the home of producer Russell Morash in Lexington, Massachusetts. The fourth garden was also located west of Boston.
Callaway Gardens near Pine Mountain, Georgia, was home to the Victory Garden South
I really don't know about a Botanic Garden.

Hope this helps you.
Balisha

jim campbell said...

I had two "heros" from early PBS - and, unfortunately, neither is still alive. They were James Underwood Crockett and Julia Child. I learned so much from both of them and it was as though a member of my family had died when they passed. A third person from PBS who was a mentor was Bob Vila and This Old House. I just can't seem to get into the newer hosts. Jim was like a grandfather who passed on to us all we needed to know about gardening. Of course, Julia was a dear friend who sometimes had things "flop" and was wise enough to let us know that it can happen to the best of cooks.

Balisha said...

Hi Jim...I watched all of those programs. They were on Sat. and it was a day that my husband worked, so I had time on my hands.

I watched Julia from her earliest years. She was such an interesting person.

We still watch This Old House. Their new program has us hooked. Love seeing what they are doing with the cottage...making it easier for older people to navigate the property and house.

The new Victory Garden leaves something to be desired. Wish they would get new hosts.
Balisha