Whitesburg KY

Be careful when eating pears

After I left home and struck out on my own at the age of 16, I still kept in contact with my dad. After I left home, he bought a piece of land down in Wolfe County outside Campton. He started building a house, working on the weekends. He had a couple of friends helping him; one of them worked on the railroad with him.

I would meet them in Blackey on Friday evening, and go down to Wolfe County with them. I had to ride in the back of the fellow’s truck, but I didn’t mind since it was summertime. We bunked at his old homeplace, which was an old log house with an addition built on out of rough lumber. It sure was quiet and peaceful, too. It was out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak.

Part of the trip had to be made on foot if the road was muddy, because the last part was just a lot of ruts and mud holes with no bottoms. At least it seemed that way if you became mired up in one of them. There was no electricity so there was a kerosene stove to cook on with two burners.

One evening Dad and the other fellows went after some supplies, so I said I would fix us some supper while they were gone. I couldn’t decide to fix canned goods or invent something, which would at least be palatable, so I made some patties out of mackerel and cornmeal.

About the time I finished cooking, they got back with the supplies. Boy, did I ever get chewed out. I had done my cooking with the door open and they had smelled it long before they got there. They said I was lucky a bear hadn’t come in on me.

I imagine if one had, I would have made another doorway. At least I would have tried. There were quite a few bears and bobcats in the vicinity, but lucky for me they didn’t come calling that night.

One Saturday we were putting the metal roof on the house with me on the ground and the other three on the roof. I would hand up a sheet of tin as it was needed. The first thing I did was to get nailed by a wasp, but I never could find the nest. I always was as clumsy as an ox in a china shop, and I guess that is why they had me on the ground. That way I wouldn’t have far to fall.

There was a pear tree a short distance from the corner of the house, and boy, was it loaded. At least I thought it was a pear tree. All day I kept eyeballing that tree, and the others watched me. They knew that sooner or later the temptation would be too much for me to ignore.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I just had to have one of those big, round, yellow pears. I reached up and got one. I took a big bite of it and you talk about getting puckered up. Honey, I ain’t never in my whole life got puckered up like that.

The others had been watching the show, and I thought for sure they were all three going to fall off the roof laughing at me. What I thought was a pear tree was actually a quince tree, which is a lot worse than a persimmon before it gets seasoned by Jack Frost.

I have been cautiously about eating pears ever since – especially if they are round like an apple.

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