“Sweetgum Tobacco and Stretchberry Gum” by Doug Fincher

June 1, 2020 - When Pam and I were discussing Sweetgum trees yesterday, I had the perfect opportunity to brag about how “pore” we were when I was a kid in Center, Texas. Back in the 30s and 40s, we couldn’t afford buying chewing gum so had to make our own. My brother Bill and I cut shallow “V” grooves in sweetgum trees, returned a few weeks later, collected the hardened resin, and chewed it.

It tasted a little like spearmint (but not as sweet) and would break up and stuck to our teeth... but then we learned about Stretch berries. They grew along the creek banks and three or four of them added to the sweet gum would make the gum stretch and keep it from sticking to our teeth.

I thought I had really impressed Pam with my story when she topped mine with one of her own. Her Cajun Dad told her that when he was growing up in South Louisiana they grew their own tobacco. “To make it taste better, we’d roll up several leaves together, drill a hole in a sweetgum tree and force the tobacco tightly into the hole. After a period of time, we took out the sweet-flavored tobacco and smoked it”. he said.

“Wow! I never heard of anything like that”, I said. “Well, it’s a good thing”, Pam laughed. If you had, you’d probably been smoking “Sweetgum Tobacco”...

... instead of chewing “Stretchberry Gum”.