Cherries in Zora
During the second world war, I was
between about 10-14 years old, and the local one room schools would let us
out about 1 O'clock to help on the farms, or pick fruit in the
Well, actually the cherry and peach thinning season
was in the summer, but apples, and the canning season for applesauce was in
Sept. The first year I picked cherries in an orchid owned by Prof Martin, on
route 116 right near the one room school house in Zora. They paid 9 cents a
bucket which held about 8 quarts. This meant that you drew a ladder, a
bucket (which was much too big and cumbersome to take up the tree, so a
smaller quart can was used, strapped to your belt, then emptied into the
When I filled the bucket, I would take it to a
staging area where the bucket would be poured into larger containers sitting
on a flatbed trailer. Then they would punch your card, indicating credit for
9 cents! The first year it took me all morning to fill a bucket, and all
afternoon to fill the second one, meaning that I earned 18 cents all day.
These people around me were turning in 15 to 20 buckets a day. Fact is 20
buckets was all star status like a 20 game winner in baseball!
My problem was that I was too small to move the
ladder around very fast, and I was a relocated boy from the south (not to
mention that I ate half the profits) When I got home, I felt very sick from
eating too many cherries, which, by the way, had been sprayed, so that's not
too hard to figure out, the getting sick, that is!
The next year, one year older and maybe two inches
taller, they announced that we were being paid 15 cents a bucket. By that
time I was up to four buckets a day! So my daily wage skyrocketed from 18
cents to 60 cents. By the end of the war Prof Martin was paying 45 cents a
bucket. By that time I hit 10 buckets a day, but I never made all star
status, because I was fooling around with the girls too much! Let's face it,
had it not been piece work, they would thrown my rear end out of there the
During the summer, a peach orchid near there was
hiring people to thin peaches. The bosses were the Carsons, one named Bub!
The peaches had to be thinned before they ripened, so that meant climbing
the trees and twisting off the undesired peaches and letting them fall to
the ground. This was tough work and the fuzz drove me up a wall.. Starting
wage was 25 cents an hour (not piece work).
Incidentally, they picked us up at from our homes in
a truck and drove us to the orchids and returned us home in the evening. At
the end of the week they held a pay day, and they gave me 5 cents an hour,
as they didn't think too much of my work, which was probably justifiable,
considering my expertise (or lack of thereof) in that field, although I
considered that Carson family a bunch of crooks for doing that. So obviously
that ended my career at that orchid.
During my freshman year at Gettysburg College(1949),
I needed cash, so I got a job at a canning factory in Ortanna, canning
applesauce (Musselman’s Lucky Leaf). This was a four week job and paid 77
cents an hour; I was on the night shift 4-12 midnight. I loaded these number
ten cans (a gallon) of applesauce onto the box cars to be shipped to grocers
all over the country. I was going to class 8-2, then running cross country
till 3:30 then would hustle over to Ortanna and work till midnight.
Well, as one can possibly surmise, I didn't last
very long under that arduous schedule, and broke down with a bad flu bug and
sore throat, thus ending, once and for all my career in the apple, peach and
cherry business! The real message here is that when I say we had it tough in
the old days, I wasn't exaggerating.
Read other articles by Jay
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