A Byrd and a pear tree

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2002

Features Editor

Sixty-five years plus and still going strong – "the tree and me."

Junior Byrd responded with "Hotdog! Hotdog!" when asked which is older the tree or the Byrd.

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Although Byrd doesn’t have a partridge in his pear tree, he probably has more pears "per limb" than anybody else who has a pear tree.

Anyone who stops at Bryd’s Unisex gets the grand pear tree tour with a coupe of side trips to a volunteer peach tree and several out-of-place tomato plants.

"If they come back in a few days, they can have some of the best pears that you’ve ever tasted," Bryd said of visitors to his clip shop. "And, did you ever see anything like this. Clusters of pears – just like clusters of grapes. It’s amazing that an old tree like this could be so productive."

Amazing? Yes.

And, what makes it even more amazing is that the tree is growing straight out of the "blacktop."

"I don’t know if that has anything to do with it being such a good producer or not," Byrd said, smiling. "You wouldn’t think it could get enough water being under blacktop like it is. And, it’s got to be hot under there where the roots are. This is an amazing tree."

The amazing pear tree came up from a seed planted by a Troy State co-ed Kate Balaka, Byrd said.

"When I came here 38 years ago, she told me not to ever cut this tree down," he said, gesturing to the bent and bending tree. "She said it has the best pears you can find."

Byrd didn’t cut the tree down, neither did he fertilize it or water it or do anything that encouraged growth and production.

"Of all the years I’ve been here, there have only been three or four that this tree has not produced," he said. "It’s a Keffer pear. That’s the kind it is. It’s a firm, sweet pear that turns yellow and mellows in September. But, you can put them up right now. When you cut them up, they’re just as white as they can be and they look real good in a canning jar."

Byrd’s not one to put on an apron and give fruit jars cold baths, but he does like to cut a pear in half, core it and fill the pear with a liberal amount of sugar and cinnamon.

"Fix ’em like that and they are de-licious," he said.

Bryd wants his over-producing pear tree to be around for many more years, but the old tree is being weighted down by this year’s crop.

"There are so many pears on the limbs that they are breaking under the weight," he said. "This limb’s 10-inches around and it just snapped under the weight."

The best remedy

for a heavy-laden tree is to remove the burden. So, pear-lovers are invited to come by and visit Byrd and the pear tree. Bring a sack and take home a bag of the best pears that have ever been grown in blacktop or anywhere else for that matter.