Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Medford Christmas Pear

When I was growing up back in the 1940's-50's, when it got close to Christmas there were two gifts our family could always count on receiving - the five pound box of assorted chocolates from our landlords, Hade and Maude Hutchinson, which they delivered themselves, and a box of pears from Oregon, which came in the mail. Both gifts were a big treat. As a child, I looked forward to the candy more than the fruit. But the pears were good, too. What we didn't eat raw Mom made into cooked or baked goods. The pears were gifted us by our neighbors, Albert (Shorty) and Maurice Reichardt.

There weren't any pear trees at the Reichardt brothers, but there were plenty of cherry trees. I've written before of my memories of helping pick cherries there. At our home, we had an area north of the house which was referred to as "the orchard". I remember there being one apple tree and one pear tree - neither of which I can recall harvesting any fruit from. When the kids and I lived in "the little house", there was a pear tree which did produce some very tasty pears.

But this post is about a Medford pear and how it came about. (I was trying for an artistic 'Pear and Amaryllis' picture here.) In August of last year I blogged about a book I had read, Cash Scow. In September this year I received an e-mail from the author, B.K. Showalter, thanking me for my review of his book. That really made my day. There have been several instances of responses to my blogs - usually from distant relatives replying to one or another family history post - and those, too, are always inspiring.

Then just before Thanksgiving this year, I received another e-mail from B.K. commenting again about my original blog and remarking that his mother-in-law lives in Creston. That prompted a flurry of e-mails back and forth, one of which included the fact that the Showalter's now live in Medford, Oregon, another that they planned to be in Creston over Christmas. It wasn't long before we had made arrangements to meet in person while they were in town.

When I read Medford in B.K.'s e-mail, I immediately thought pears. I recalled the boxes of pears from my childhood and wondered......

There's always a little hesitancy about actually meeting in person someone who you've only known online, but meeting B.K., his sister, Cindy, his wife, Marjorie and her mother, Maxine, was like meeting long-lost relatives. There was the connection of growing up in SW Iowa and NW Missouri. There were books and travel and vintage cars to talk about and one-room country schools - Maxine taught in them and the rest of us attended them. We could have spent much more than an hour conversing and getting acquainted.

Whether we meant to or not, our 'meeting in person' plans came with a time limit - just in case we didn't hit it off. But before I left, the subject of their hometown came up. I said, "When I saw that you live in Medford, Oregon, I got this image of pears. Marjorie, said, "Yes. We're noted for our pears." B.K. added, "Medford is the home of Harry & David, one of the original direct marketers of mail order fruit"; which is when they handed me a gift bag containing a pear. Once again, I will enjoy a treat just as I did sixty years ago - A Medford Christmas Pear.

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