March 25, 2012 by csukach
By Chris Sukach
Harriet Trussell was supposed to have been born a boy.
She would have been called Harry Trussell, III, following the pattern of the second child of each generation bearing the name. She would have inherited the family livestock auction business which had spanned more than three cities and as many states.
“I never liked my name,” Harriet laments. “I always wanted to be named Kathy or Connie or something like that—a prettier name.”
However, it wasn’t until she was in upper grade school that Harriet shared her displeasure with her name with her parents.
“I think it hurt Mamma’s feelings because they were very proud of the history of it,” she says.
Harry Trussell died just two months after Harriet was born. She never really knew her grandfather nor his auction business. However, she did show a compassion for the creatures that were the backbone of the family profession.
“Growing up on the farm, I was always interested when we had cows and heifers calving,” Harriet remembers. “Even though it was usually late at night, I’d ask to go with my dad and I’d help by holding the flashlight for him.”
Harriet ended up turning that compassion into a career as a nurse.
“There wasn’t anything else I ever wanted to be,” she says matter-of-factly. “As a kid I’d been admitted to the hospital a couple of times and it fascinated me,” she recalls.
Even her playtime was filled with caring for others.
“I would play nurse,” Harriet shares. “If I found something hurt, if it was a kitten or whatever, I’d try and nurse it back to health as much as I could.”
While nurturing humans and animals came naturally to the young girl, that wasn’t necessarily the case with plants.
My mother raised a big garden full of tomatoes, green bell peppers, green beans, radishes, carrots and lettuce, Harriet said.
“My job was to wash the leaf lettuce,” she says of her childhood gardening experience.
“I had to wash the dirt off each leaf,” says Harriet, who admittedly despises grime and getting messy. “I also had to pull weeds, or water or hoe the garden, or harvest whatever was ready to go.”
Fresh garden vegetables weren’t as plentiful in the stores as they are now, she states.
“If you wanted fresh things, you had to grow them yourself,” Harriet explains, but with today’s conveniences, she doesn’t know if all the labor home grown produce entails is worth it.
“For all the work it took—if the rabbits or bugs got into it, it was gone,” she says referring to the garden and its vegetables. “It’s easier just to go to the store and buy them.”
“I’d rather put my work into flowers or the yard itself,” she beams.