Chapter 6

The Apple Business

When I was young there were remains of apple orchards everywhere. It had once been a major enterprise on many farms. The yield was good, and the labor to produce apples was small.

There were two orchards on the home farm: one behind the barn, and one on the ridge that ran east from the knob. High places were favored, because cold air drained away from them when there was a late chill in the spring, which would freeze the buds or flowers, and prevent the fruit from forming. There was an old orchard on Grandfather Kennedy's farm on the east side of the hill, and there was one here at the Jesse's Run farm, back of the house on the steep hillside. There was also a cherry orchard on the ridge back of the house here. When they wanted cherries they cut down a tree, rather than climbing it, because the supply seemed inexhaustible. The farm was so remote there was little chance of merchandising them. The tame cherries are gone, but there were still wild (black heart) cherries there when we came to the farm in 1962.

Grandfather T. M. Bond took apples grown on the Lost Creek Farm to Salem, some 16 to 18 miles, in a horse-drawn wagon and sold them by the bushel door to door, and thought he was making good money.

In 1920 an apple tree disease known as the San Jose Scale came through, and wiped out the apple industry in one stroke. Bordeaux spray was supposed to prevent the disease, but few tried more than a few years. No one wanted to buy the ugly apples. A few wild apple trees survived on the hills.

In time it was possible again to raise fairly respectable apples without spray. In the 60's and 70's we used apple trees, one in particular, from behind the house. My wife Esther made excellent apple dumplings from the large, tart apples from one tree. We never knew the variety, but remember the pleasure they gave us. Like all living things, that tree eventually passed on, sometime in the 80's.

I remember going to Uncle Erlow and Aunt Antha's as a boy (Aunt Antha was my grandfather's sister, and they lived in a large house with a large basement near Jane Lew). They had a great bin of apples in their basement. Aunt Antha cooked them, and they ate them as a treat (much healthier than today's treats), and gave them away. Dad said that was typical of the time before the San Jose Scale. Uncle Erlow and Aunt Antha had one or two good trees that supplied many bushels.

Aside How did the ancestors manage to raise so many children? Eight or more in the family was not uncommon. They practiced firmer discipline, not by force, but by psychology. They kept a "tighter leash." The older children had duties, including helping with the younger children, too. And quite honestly, they weren't as clean as we are today with our washing machines and regular baths. The work was mainly manual, and they had time to think abut their problems and work them out. Also, they lacked the intrusive features forced on us by living so close together. Peers of the same age cohort have tremendous influence on today's children and teenagers, but had very little when families lived isolated lives, and strangers, even adults outside the family, had little sway.

Copyright © 1998, 2006, 2008, 2011 S. Tom Bond (stombond at