The best method to check the ripeness of a watermelon is to thump the rind either an index or middle finger, according to one Sugartown native.

John Hester grew up in the center of Sugartown, a stone’s throw from a watermelon stand.

Hester says if the “thump” produces a hollow thud-like sound, it is probably ripe. On the other end of the ripeness spectrum, the sound of a green melon, when thumped, resembles a klink or ping sound.

A good way to remember the difference is “ping” and “pong.” A green melon produces a “ping,” whereas a “pong” resonates from a ripe one, Hester said.

He claims that an over-ripe melon can be identified by a thumping sound. “If it makes a thick, dull, thud sound, the melon has probably gotten too ripe,” Hester said.

As a boy growing up in Sugartown, working in the fields was almost inevitable.

During the watermelon season, Hester worked for the Lacy, McDonald and Harpers families, harvesting the melons by hand.

After the melons were loaded onto trucks, Hester would help to peddle them all over the state.

He would regularly ride through the streets on the back of a truck loaded with melons. He would call out to residents: “Sugartown watermelon, sweet as honey! Come buy yours their with the money!”

Hester was often dropped off at busy intersections in southern Louisiana towns, to sell a load of watermelons. He would call out to passing vehicles: “I’m John! John the Watermelon Man! Come get yours here at my watermelon stand.”

Hester recalls this to be hot, hard and tiresome work. Nevertheless, it was a fun way to make a few bucks. And he could eat all the watermelon he wanted for free.