Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Way Up High in a Cherry Tree!
One of the first jobs I ever had was picking Cherries. I don't remember how old someone had to be to be able to pick but I was in my early teens. I had watched my sister go and make summer money and I was anxious to start making my millions.(at least it seemed like she had made millions to me.) One year it happened! I was old enough. Now to begin. Early, early on a summer morning I woke up to a still dark sky. Got my lunch and went out to sit on the porch and wait for my ride. I had my lunch, hat, and jacket for my new adventure. There was always a cool canyon breeze and often the faint scent of a skunk in the air. Soon I could hear an old truck starting and stopping along the way as it stopped to pick up the neighborhood kids who were also going to work. Around the corner it came. In the back leaning against the tall wooden rack were kids of all sizes. Each with their own hat, jacket, and lunch. We knew to hold on tight with the frequent stops and starts. When all had been gathered up the canyon road to the bench we would go. When we got there we were each given a bucket and a tree to work on. The buckets would be tied to our waists because it was a sad day when you dropped your almost full bucket to the ground. I loved to get up on the tall tripod ladder into the top of the trees. Each kind of cherry had to be picked a certain way. The sweet cherries had to be picked with their stems intact. That would make your fingers sore after a while and seemed to take forever to fill that bucket. There was also a lot of sampling while picking and pit spitting contests. Ohhhh, the taste of a warm Bing cherry. We would work until it started to get warm. I am not sure how long. Maybe until noon. If it was a good tree and a good day that bucket had been filled and dumped several times. We would take them to the owner and he would weigh what we had picked and keep a tally of how we did each day. There was always activity going on in the orchard. Ladders being moved, kids climbing the trees(if you broke a limb you got a scolding)buckets being dumped gently, and a lot of pit spitting. I had a friend that would work along side me in the same tree or a neighboring tree. We would sit up in the tree picking and singing songs we made up about cherries. I am sure we were so annoying now as I look back but we had a lot of fun. We would keep going until from the branches of another tree we would hear someone scream...."will you two shut up." To this day when I go into the store and see a nice big dark red cherry the song pops into my head. "Cherry, Cherry, Bing Cherry, Bing Cherry, Bing!!!!" I don't remember for sure what I made per pound for the cherries. I am thinking 25 cents a pound. It was a short season. Maybe two weeks and then again later in the summer when the sour(pie) cherries came on. That was a lot of money to me. It did feel like a million bucks.