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War story: Judge Johnston and the melon balls

Retired Campbell County Circuit Judge Sam Johnston first told me his melon-balls story about 15 years ago. He tells it to me practically every time I see him because he knows I laugh at it every time (and I’m not just being polite).

Here’s how it goes:

The judge was a guest at a sheriff’s association dinner some years ago. He was seated with two deputies.

The waiter brought the fruit appetizer to the table – each person got a bowl with a nice colorful array of carefully scooped-out melon balls – green honeydew, orange cantaloupe and red watermelon.

The judge grabbed his and began eating with gusto (people who know Sam Johnston know he approaches most things with gusto).

The two deputies were motionless, looking at the bowls with curiosity mixed with distrust. The judge noticed and said, “What’s wrong, boys?”

One pointed a finger at the bowl and said, “What’s that?”

“Why, these are melon balls,” Johnston replied. “The green is honeydew, the red is watermelon and the orange is cantaloupe.”

“Damn, I didn’t know they growed that small!” replied one deputy.

The other added, “Yeah. I bet they’re a real bear to peel!”

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