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Stand #039;produces#039; many stories

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP - Like she is a produce genie, it just takes one honk to summon Margaret Harned to her Elizabeth Township produce stand.

For more than 14 years, Margaret has manned the stand while her husband Willard, a retired construction worker, manages the field behind their home and collects the corn, half-runner beans, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes they sell.

The stand is little more than a large awning with a sign asking visitors to sound their horn for service. What really makes the stand, found by The Dart this week, special though are the stories underneath the awning.

The season for the couple's silver and golden queen corn should be starting in about three weeks, she said. That is exciting for Margaret, who thinks that they do corn better than anything.

"Those do very well," Margaret said. "I like them cooked, sometimes I'll have them on the grill."

She is a little less particular about her second favorite: Tomatoes.

"I just like to slice them and eat them," Margaret said with a giggle. "I love my tomatoes. I'm not picky, all tomatoes are good with me."

Luckily for her customers, she has enough willpower to keep from eating them right off the stand. When the urge strikes, she'll cool off with a tomato in the small office building to which the roof of her stand is connected.

The one-room building, complete with a sign that reads "Two Old Crabs" at the entryway, served as a home for the Herneds for two months in 1999 after a fire claimed their house.

Now, the office is just a place to grab a snooze on the couch or take a much- needed tomato break.

When she is manning the store, Margaret's two favorite ways to pass the time are enjoying her "Reader's Digest" and gabbing with her customers, many of whom have traveled the 12 miles along State Route 650 from Hanging Rock to get there.

"I enjoy meeting people, just talking to them and things like that," Margaret said. "When we first started, we had people coming from Michigan down here."

The Herned stand is as full of stories as Margaret is.

For example, when their dog "Winker" died a few months ago he was replaced by a German shepherd named "Jack." But, they didn't feel like taking the old name off the dog house, so they just added the new name.

So now, no visit to the Herned stand is complete without a couple pounds of silver queen, a couple of stories from Margaret and a visit to what is probably the world's only German shepherd named "Jack Winker."

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map of Lawrence County and finds a story where it lands.