Old-fashioned, but adequate NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

NEIGHBORS

December 23, 1992|By PAT BRODOWSKI

The stamp-sized Lineboro post office is the pinky finger of the postal system in North Carroll.

Joyce O'Donnoghue has been postmaster since Feb. 15, serving residents from what was once the front room of her home across the street from the Lineboro Fire Hall.

The tiny space is fitted like a ship, with about 100 mailboxes lining the waiting room sized for two or three, with Mrs. O'Donnoghue's workroom tucked behind.

"If they need me, they ring the bell," she said.

In her house behind the post office, her three preschool children play. And Christmas has brought a rush of sorts.

"Actually, it's pretty heavy for this area," Mrs. O'Donnoghue said. "I'm seeing more people. It's nice for a change. And the incoming mail really got heavy today."

Christmas giving brought three bushels of fruit from Florida last week to a local business, filling the tiny office. Outgoing packages arrive in spurts of three or four, she said, because many are probably taken to Manchester.

"This is kind of an old-fashioned post office," Mrs. O'Donnoghue said. "I have a scale and use charts. I'm not equipped with the quick convenient way to do things."

She's twice reordered stamps with this year's Christmas designs.

"It's kind of funny," she observed. "People come in to send cards, and most people have a lot.

"This year, everybody seems to think nobody is sending cards. It's really picking up today [Monday], and I'm enjoying it. This season brings people out."

*

Gordon Garrett grows turnips. Shaped like onion with purple shoulders, turnips are pretty cousins of broccoli, kale and cabbage, a family of plants exuberant when the weather gets crisp.

So from October until Christmas, Mr. Garrett pulls two acres of the amethyst roots and stands with laden baskets along Hanover Pike, a cold-weather landmark between Greenmount and Manchester.

Native to the Old World, the turnip fed people and animals in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. It's a biennial, producing only seed in the second year, which in the old days was pressed to extract the oil and made into seedcakes for the animals.

In the 1600s, turnips were cultivated in kitchen gardens. Two hundred years later, 10 varieties sprang up in Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello.

Today, my husband says, the turnip has an image problem. That's a shame, for it's Latin name led to the word 'napiform' meaning turnip-shaped, an interesting word I'll spend years trying to use. For most people, turnips fell off the truck and off most menus, too.

On Saturday, I visited Mr. Garrett, near his brick farmhouse and ++ white barn with triple (almost napiform) cupolas, where his field meets the road. He sells his turnips there.

He began liking turnips as a child and has been growing them for 30 years.

"You meet a lot of nice people this way," he said as another customer drove up.

Ralph Dull, who had stopped to chat, suggested turnips for a table centerpiece. And, he said, they're great raw, served on the gourmet's buffet table.

With fingers chilled by the blasting wind, Mr. Garrett peeled one to reveal the brilliant white globe inside.

He also shared his favorite recipe. Take potatoes, onion, and a piece of beef to cook with the turnips, he said. He sent me home with a sack of his pet roots. My husband, Bob, cooked up a soup to restore the turnip to glory.

A distinctive vegetable it is, with a mellow buttery flavor. Bob's soup used smoked pork for stock and a few string beans for color. The rest relied upon the tasty turnip.

*

It wouldn't be winter without the megawatt display of holiday lights on Ralph Dull's lawn.

His rancher on Sterling Court in Greenmount is dwarfed by hundreds of lighted snowmen, Santas in various poses, reindeer trying to get on the roof, a full nativity with a legion of caroling boys, a toy train, candy canes and lots more.

Mr. Dull has been acquiring the displays for 18 years, doubling the collection last summer when the owner of another big display died.

"I went to the Dull auction in Pleasant Hill, on Pump Station Road," he said. "I found out later he was a third cousin or close to it."

On display are wooden figures created by Nancy Kramer of Shalk Road, including two skunks and a goose with its head in a water bucket. His new Santa shop was once a bus stop for children on Fairmount Road.

You might find Mr. Dull checking the thousands of light bulbs while his display is going full power nightly between 6 and 10 p.m., from now until about Jan. 3.

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