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Keeping Up With Maury
Fruit in the coldest winters
by Maury Feren


So you think this last week has been cold? What do you think happened in the 50s and 60s? We always had cold winters. We expected that. Let me give you some examples.

I'm not going to talk about the Big Snow in the mid-50s. That was truly a bang up week! It happened the day after Thanksgiving. Nothing moved for three days. I mean nothing. Read the history books for that one.

In the produce industry, most every shipment of all kinds of fruits and vegetables used to come by freight cars. This was before the advent of trucks. When I would go to the freight cars to pick up a partial load of vegetables, it would be locked. It would have a metal band and a number to identify it. Unfortunately, the weather was so cold-freezing, of course-and the lock would be covered with ice.

First, you would have to take a hammer to break the ice off the lock. When I talk about a lock, it would not be the kind of lock you think about. This would be a curved piece of metal that would hook onto the bar that could be moved up or down. Then there would be a master lock that you would use to protect against thievery from a competitor or another person. There would be 50-100 freight cars on track in the Nickel Plate Railroad for use in the Northern Ohio Food Terminal.

Just for information, all of the vegetables were packed in solid containers using part wood and heavy cardboard. Ice was established in the unit generally weighing 40-50 lbs. In cold weather, you did not face much dripping. But in spring and summer, the ice melted fast.

Generally, I would wear a rubber apron to protect against the wetness. I also wore heavy boots or galoshes in winter. And I always wore ridge shoes in the spring and summer months. I once mentioned that a shoe man from the Knapp Company came by periodically. However, he did not sell rubber boots or goulashes.

Do you know what galoshes are? That is a big heavy boot with metal clips that open and close with button tight clips. Just about the 50s, one of my friends was the past owner of the now extinct International Rubber Company. They were a local outfit and they were one of the first companies to manufacture rubber tennis shoes, galoshes, and other sundry items.

He suggested that I might want to sell galoshes. Galoshes were a basic item. Everyone needed galoshes to combat the weather and I needed them particularly working on a wet cement floor. I did this for about 25 years and fortunately I never developed arthritis because of the galoshes and my exercise activity.

The galoshes were paired 12 to a box and packed in a big cardboard container. There were sizes from 9-12 and I have to tell you, I sold a lot of galoshes because they were priced so reasonably. The International Seaway Company went on to expand their line. They were the first to recognize the value of organizational support. They organized the AAA organization. Everything changes and they were overcome by the big companies like Nike, Adidas, Puma, and others.

The weather this week reminded me of the winters we always suffered through. Cleveland was noted for being cold. We were recognized as a cold city behind Buffalo and Milwaukee. Where is it going from here? I have no idea. Is this going to be the weather? It's hard to say. There are a great many studies that say that this is part of climate change. Time will tell us.

I know we can't live on yesterday's drama. There is no question that this has been a hard week. How we manage to get through will tell what we are to expect in the future.

It's not pleasant thinking of how difficult it was to get around. But, when we think of what happened in the south, we realize how lucky we are!


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