City Girl Gone Country Asks, 'What's a Bride to Dew?'

My husband and I met in college, where he was majoring in agriculture. He was fully committed to following this line of work, whereas I came from a big city and knew nothing about farming. I had planned to enter the business world and live near a big shopping mall.

He often told me that while he realized I was not a "farmer at heart," he was sure I would grow to love that kind of life.

I had met his family, former Midwestern farmers who had moved to California and become orange growers. After our marriage, we stayed with them and I learned firsthand about farming. His numerous friends and relatives accepted me most lovingly, but I could see they were a bit wary of me and were wondering how I would adjust to their way of living.

Word had quickly spread that "Charlie married a city girl," and neighbors poured into the house to meet me. The women wondered if I knew how to cook, sew, and handle the many domestic chores. They made it clear that there were no shopping centers available.

The men wondered if I realized the importance of weather conditions in raising crops, and how this knowledge outlined their daily activities.

I knew nothing about anything connected with farming, but I dearly loved my husband. I felt sure that if he enjoyed that kind of life, I would, too.

It was December, a crucial month for orange growers. If temperatures got too low, it meant smudge pots had to be lit or wind machines turned on to raise the temperature in the groves so the fruit wouldn't freeze. Many times farmers were up all night protecting their crops.

One cold night there was an important meeting being held in a neighboring town, and all the farmers wanted to attend. But in those winter months, none of them would miss listening to the frost forecast on the radio. They had to decide who would stay home to listen to the weather report.

I wanted to be helpful to these hard-working people, and to show them that I knew the importance of weather conditions to their crops. So I offered to stay home and write down the information for them. They were openly leery of trusting a "city girl" with such an important responsibility, but I finally persuaded them that I took notes swiftly and accurately.

They decided to trust me, and left for the meeting. I sat glued to the radio with paper and pencil in hand so I could do a perfect job for them.

Now, I had lived in that area for a very short time, and I didn't know the names of any of the surrounding communities, other than the fact that many of them had Indian names. I did my best with the spelling of the names as they were reeled off in the forecast.

When the men returned about 11 p.m., they burst into the house, eager to hear my report. I proudly read:

Alta Loma - 32

Etiwanda - 37

Cucamonga - 34

Then I added, "But the coldest temperature tonight will be 26 degrees in the town of Dew Point."

AT that point, all the farmers erupted into laughter. They literally sat down in chairs and held their sides! I was totally mystified. What had I said to cause all this?

After what seemed a long time, my husband pulled himself together and explained to me that Dew Point was not the name of a town, but the temperature at which water vapor would begin to condense on the fruit and cause it to freeze. At that temperature, immediate steps should be taken to protect the grove. They assured me, however, that I had done no harm, because the other figures I'd reported had shown them there was no immediate danger this night.

With the help of these wonderful people, I finally became a capable farmer's wife and had the joy of hearing my husband say: "Honey, you really are a 'farmer at heart' after all."

But one thing didn't change: For many years after that I was known far and wide as "The Dew Point Lady."

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