Wandering in York County

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During the best of times and worst of times, dandelions were there. Jamie Kinsley Photo.

Dandelions have conquered the world: My topic for York History Storyteller night

Many think as The Great Depression era as the worst of times. Dismissed from their jobs and unable to find work, many found themselves hungry. Rattling the penniless piggy banks told children that dinner, yet again, would be sparse.

In 1932 and 1933, the United States spiraled into the crushing blows of more jobs lost. Upwards of 23,500 workers in York County failed to secure work. On the brink of starvation, Yorkers even stole food from neighbors, plucking crops straight from the farmers’ fields.

However, resources popped up when we needed them most. Compared to other, more urban parts of America, Yorkers have maintained our traditional knowledge of living off the land.

When the first European settlers cleared trees for their homesteads, they relied on nature to provide much of their medicine. The root, stem, leaves, and flower of dandelions supplied rich nutrients in tinctures, teas, and ointments.

Our resourcefulness also includes eating dandelions in salads. Costing only the time needed in preparation, Yorkers, including my family, ate sweet-and-sour dandelion salad as a way to battle through the worst part of the Great Depression.

For my father, Dale Tyson, making dandelion wine in the basement of his Felton home proved the best of times. His father, Rodney Tyson (Or, as I called him, Papa), showed my dad how to smash the leaves, boil water and sugar, add yeast, and wait for the fermentation process.

Filling the glass to the brim, Dad excitedly brought the homemade concoction to his lips. Unfortunately, his eight-year-old palate didn’t appreciate the taste of an aged delicacy like dandelion wine. Other Yorkers, however, especially during Prohibition, recognized this valuable drink when Congress declared alcohol banned. Again turning to the land, dandelion wine quenched thirsts.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 P.M. at the Appell Center, I will talk more about the story of dandelions. Ranging from home remedies, food, wine, and connecting the spirit world, dandelions play an important role in York County’s past.

You can still buy tickets HERE!

HERE is another article on weeds you can eat!

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