Life is a pail of cherries…

Cherry season is here. For me, cherry season has always marked the middle of summer. Now on our farm we grow mostly sweet cherries. Black, yellow and red. They are fun to pick and yummy to eat. Each color has a little different flavor. And the season goes fast!

Back when I was a kid, and even before that, my dad grew a lot of tart cherries. Acres of them! And when it came time to pick them, he hired kids from the area to do the work. Not a lot of requirements to work at our farm back then. As long as you were 12 years old or older you had the job. A simple job really, just show up by 7:30 am and usually we were finished for the day by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. And in between you had to pick cherries, lots and lots of them if you could. Some kids were really fast pickers. Some were so slow that it seemed they hardly moved. And as the day went on it usually got hot and sticky. They worked on ladders and rode on a farm wagon to the orchard. Apparently OSHA had not been invented yet. The kids were a sweaty sticky, cherry juice mess when they left for home each day.

Tart Cherries
Tart Cherries

There were distractions too. Hard to avoid when you put 25-35 teenage boys and girls together day after day. Lots of teasing and chatter. Cherry orchard romances. And cherry fights, messy, sticky, juicy wars that usually ended with my dad’s stern “OK that’s enough of that!” Best not get caught by Mr. Moelker! We would laugh when somebody’s mom put a cherry jam sandwich in their lunch, or gave them cherry Kool aid to drink for the day. What was she thinking?! I still wonder today if the moms did it by mistake or were  just getting a little revenge!

Over the years from the 1960’s to the mid 80’s, hundreds of local kids had their first job picking cherries at Moelker’s. For a couple of weeks each summer they shared a common purpose, or for some, a common misery. I still run into them, some now in their 60’s. And they say with a smile on their face, “I used to pick cherries here when I was a kid! I remember when…”, and they break into a story that we both laugh about! It’s amazing how time changes our perspective.  I suspect that even some of you reading this may have enjoyed that character building experience known as “Cherry season” when you were a kid. If so, let us know! Please comment on this blog. We would love to hear from you!


Have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker


4 thoughts on “Life is a pail of cherries…

  1. Sandra Talsma

    I never picked cherries as a kid, but I topped onions, picked blueberries and planted celery. It’s too bad that’s not possible for kids today. I very much enjoy your blogs. I have learned a lot. They’re interesting and short. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shirley VanPolen DeLange

    I grew up on a dairy farm in the McBain, Michigan area. My father raised green beans as a cash crop. My siblings and the neighbor kids joined the migrant workers in picking beans for 4 cents a pound. I considered it a good day if I picked 100 pounds. In October we had a week of “potato vacation” from school so we could all pick potatoes. We learned the value of work and the satisfaction of being tired and dirty because we put in a “days work”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonnie Moelker

    You’re right, Tom, that was my first job (outside of babysitting). Your blog brought back many memories …I’m remembering that big open water tank on the raised platform. How did we manage to get wet from that? Thanks to your parents, the neighborhood kids had a job which meant a lot in those days. Good memories! And keep the posts coming… have a gift for writing! I’m enjoying what you share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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