Evelyn Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm

When I was younger I hated Brussels sprouts.  The only way I was ever served them was boiled with butter or sometimes with sour cream and a dash of nutmeg.  Of course growing up in the 60’s the Brussels sprouts we ate come from a small frozen square box as most of our vegetables did.  I know I thought all vegetables grew in those frozen squares.

I am not sure if it was the taste, the texture or the smell of those tiny mini cabbages that I hated the most, but there was nothing appealing about them.  When my mother would give them to us she would say we had to eat at least two.  Thank goodness two was all she picked, because that was the exact amount my paper napkin could hold.  I would pop a whole Brussels in my mouth and then immediately bring my napkin to my mouth and pop the little ball into my paper covered hand, as I appeared to be wiping my mouth.  There was no way the napkin could hold three and not have them spill from my lap before I was able to deposit the napkin in the trash under the auspices of helpfully clearing the table.

The summer I stayed in my college town I had three friends, Marilyn, Randy and Bill who also had mistakenly thought Carlisle would be a great place to summer.   We spent most hot evenings together after we had finished our boring day jobs.  Being poor college students in a sweltering town we would spend most nights at Marilyn’s apartment in the one room with air conditioning.

After eating our communal meal we would watch TV.  Don’t ask me what shows we watched because it was not the programming we were interested in.  In the pre-QVC, infomercial days we watched for the one minute ads from places such as the Franklin Mint or Columbia Record House that had ads with 800 numbers to call to order what ever was being advertised.

Calling poor unassuming telemarketers was our evenings’ entertainment.  The four of us were somewhat theatrical so we would assume different characters to make a call and entertain the rest.  My favorite character was Evelyn Henderson, of Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm.  Think of me with Vickie Lawrence’s southern voice as Mama, just talking much faster.  I would dial up the 800 number of the Franklin Mint and could go on for at least 20 minutes about my love for the “Miniature Chinese Vases” they were selling.

I would begin each call the same, “Hi, this is Evelyn Henderson of Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm.  Please tell me you still have those darlin’ Chinese vases…”

Sometimes my friend Bill would play the role of my husband and pretend to call me from the other room.  He would say things like, “Evelyn, you aren’t trying to buy anything from the TV are you?”   That would be my out as to why I could not purchase right that minute and would have to call back, keeping those poor telemarketers ever hopeful for a big sale to me.

After a while in the pre-caller id era, the operators began to recognize my voice and would call me by name before I could announce, “This is Evelyn Henderson.”  That was when I began to learn more about Brussels sprouts so I could more convincingly carry on conversations with my new telemarketing friends.  Sometimes I would get carried away talking about chocolate covered sprouts, but really I was already so far gone discussing commemorative coins and collectable spoons that no one seemed to want to call Evelyn Henderson out as the fraud she was.

Today I actually like Brussels sprouts, at least roasted and I guess I owe that to Evelyn Henderson and those long hot nights in Carlisle and all the operators at the Franklin Mint.