Eastside Marketplace - Almanack

You Say ToMATEo, and I Say ToMATo

And Tillie Lewis Says “I’m the World’s Tomato Queen”

In 1916, fifteen year-old Brooklyn native Myrtle Ehrlich left high school after one year to marry a wholesale grocer and to go to work in his business. Noticing the high demand for the imported cans of firm-bodied, pear-shaped Italian tomatoes (pomodori) used by the best cooks to make the best spaghetti sauce, she had a plan. “Why not grow pomodori domestically?” She consulted with the agriculture specialists at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, who advised that pomodori could not be grown in American soil. Discouraged (and divorced) she moved on, studying business and briefly selling securities on Wall Street.

Pomodoro Tomatoes

In 1934 the federal government raised the tariff on imported tomato products by 50%. Once again Myrtle decided to pursue the possibility of growing the pomodoro variety domestically. An upcoming vacation to Italy provided the perfect opportunity. There she met Florindo del Gaizo, an Italian exporter who was worried about losing his American customers. She procured pomodoro seed, and she talked del Gaizo into staking $50,000 on a project to grow them in California. Together they formed the Flotill Foods Corporation. They hired Stockton farmers to experiment. Needless to say, the experiment was a success — pomodoro tomato seeds grew beautifully in California! Myrtle’s next step was to talk the Pacific Can Company into building a plant at Stockton, with an option for her to buy it. On July 13, 1935, her 34th birthday, the first Flotill cannery in Stockton opened. By 1940, she had made San Joaquin County the top tomato-producing county in the United States. In 1951 Flotell Products, renamed Tillie Lewis Foods, Inc. was earning $30 million per year, making it one of the five largest canning companies in the United States. In the same year, Tillie Lewis (Myrtle’s adopted business name), was named “businesswoman of the year” by the Associated Press. That year pear-shaped tomatoes made up about 10% of California’s crop. By 1971, Tillie Lewis Foods had sales of over $90 million per year. During the Korean War, Flotill was the nation’s largest supplier of U.S. Army C-Rations.

August 2012 Calendar

September 4 Deadline

MacCOLL JOHNSON FELLOWSHIP APPLICATIONS

For Rhode Island Writers  •  Rhode Island Foundation

Up to three $25,000 fellowships will be awarded to emerging and mid-career Rhode Island writers whose work demonstrates exceptional creativity, rigorous dedication, and significant artistic merit.

DETAILS AND APPLICATION: http://www.rifoundation.org/Nonprofits/GrantOpportunities/MacCollJohnsonFellowship/tabid/362/Default.aspx
401-274-4564

Thursdays, August 2, 9, 16 & 23   •   5:30 - 7:30pm

THEATER IN THE PARK

ECAS (The Educational Center for the Arts and Sciences

Spanish-language and bilingual music, dance, and theater for all ages.

PLACE: Roger Williams Park Broad Street Entrance

COST: Free  •  www.arttixri.com/org/detail/152/ECAS_Theater

Sundays, August 5, 12, 19 & 26   •   6:00pm

SOUNDS OF SUMMER CONCERTS

Pawtucket Summer Concert Series

  • Aug 5   Mel-Tones, big band
  • Aug 12  Dixie Diehards, '20s - '30s New Orleans-style music
  • Aug 19  Joe’s Backyard Band, Motown and blues
  • Aug 26  Aurea Ensemble, music and poetry

PLACE: Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre, outdoors at the corner of Roosevelt and Exchange Streets, Pawtucket

COST: Free  •  www.pawtucketri.com  •  401-728-0500 x251

Saturday, August 11  •  10:00 - 11:30am

WALKING TOUR: CAPE VERDEAN HISTORY

Rhode Island Historical Society

Guest guide Claire Andrade-Watkings.

PLACE: 109 India Street (next to the Community Boat Center), Providence

COST: $10  •  Reservations bbarnes@rihs.org

Tuesday, August 14  •  10:00am - 1:00pm

IMAGINATION PLAYGROUND — PLAY AT THE PARK

The Providence Children's Museum and the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation

Imagination Playground features huge blue foam shapes and other open-ended equipment that inspire creative play.

PLACE: Burnside Park in Kennedy Plaza, Providence

COST: Free  •  www.childrenmuseum.org

Wednesday, August 15   •   Tours at 10:00am and 2:00pm

VICTORIAN TIMES — A KIDS TOUR OF LIPPITT HOUSE

Preserve Rhode Island

An interactive tour for kids ten to fourteen, featuring the Lippitt House architecture, decorative finishes, and Victorian culture.

PLACE: 199 HopeStreet, Providence

COST: $6 per child (accompanying adults free)  •  Registration required at www.lippitthouse.org  •  401-453-0688

Sunset Safari

Wednesday, August 15   •   7:00 - 9:00pm

SUNSET SAFARI

Roger Williams Park Zoo

A family evening featuring a themed tour at twilight, a s’more smorgasbord, and story time.

PLACE: 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence

COST: Members • adults $27; ages 3 - 12 $22; free for ages 2 and under
           Non-members • $37 adults; $32 ages 3-12; free for ages 2 and under
           Register at www.rwpzoo.org.

Saturday, August 18   •   7:30pm

DOWNTOWN SUNDOWN SERIES

Roger Williams National Memorial

Featuring Lisa Martin with Brad Willard, John Fuzek, Mark Cutler, and Mary Ann Rossoni.

PLACE: Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main Street, Providence

COST: Free  •  401-521-7266 x203  •  limited parking at the park

Through September 28   •   Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:00pm

AFRICAN-AMERICAN ART EXHIBIT

Department of Administration
Human Resources Outreach and Diversity Office

PLACE: Atrium Gallery, 1 Capitol Hill, Providence

COST: Free  •  www.arts.ri.gov/special/atrium  •  401-222-3880

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