For many years Pine Knoll Clock Shop was located in a one room school house known locally as "ALBIN SCHOOL" Every fall of the year my wife and I along with several of the "students" from Albin would have a stone soup day and have the soup available for donations. The money went to the annual reunion fund. We have since relocated across the road from the school into a building on our farm and the school now sits empty. We had many years of enjoyment with the former students and stone soup days was one of our favorite times when we were at the school.
What amazes me is the number of people that have never heard the story of Stone Soup. So, I thought I would present a version of the story in this weeks column. It is really a civics lesson and resourceful responsibility that is taught.
Once upon a time, somewhere in Eastern Europe, there was a great famine. People jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a peddler drove his wagon into a village, sold a few of his wares, and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night. "There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on." "Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron kettle from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water. By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the peddler sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism. "Ahhh," the peddler said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage, that's hard to beat." A villager approached hesitantly, looked around, and pulled a small cabbage from under his coat. When he discreetly added it to the pot, the peddler beamed. "Excellent," he cried, "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a little morsel of salt pork, and it was fit for a king." Then it was the village butcher who approached. He had a little piece of salt pork under his apron. And so it went, some carrots, some potatoes, some peas, some corn, some beans until the kettle was quite full. And when cooked, a delicious meal for all.
The villagers offered the peddler a great deal of money for this magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. And from that time on, long after the famine had ended, the villagers reminisced about the finest soup they'd ever had.