A Byrd and a pear tree

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Junior Byrd’s trademark way of talking ends just about every sentence with “but …” , so you know he’s got something else to say. And, those who know Junior Byrd will know that it’s worth hanging around to hear.

These days, as in most all August days for the last 42 years, Byrd is talking pears.

He would wager his barber’s clippers that his pear tree, the one he “inherited” is one of the most prolific pear trees “anywhere.”

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“Just look. There’s a ton of pears, but ….”

The “but” is that tons of pears have already been picked by folks from all around Troy and down as far as Brundidge.

“They come from all over to get pears,” Byrd said. “But …”

There are plenty of pears on the ground for the birds and bees and any other living creatures that have a taste for the late summer fruit.

“What’s so unusual about this pear tree is that it’s been here for … how many years, I don’t know … but I do know that the tree was here when I came and that was 42 years ago,” Byrd said. “How many years before that, I don’t know. But … I do know that it has not been watered in 42 years and, in all that time, it’s not had a bit of fertilizer put on it. And every year, it’s had a bumper crop of pears.”

For at least 42 years, anybody who has wanted a pear to gnaw or a bushel to can has stopped by, unannounced and without feeling a need to ask, and gathered what they wanted or needed.

“The tree was planted by the daughter of a Greek couple that moved here from New York,” Byrd said. “They owned Mary’s Café across from Synco Drugs and some of their kinfolks owned the Riverside Café .. but that doesn’t have anything to do with the pear tree except that the daughter planted it.”

When Byrd purchased the property for his barbershop a neighbor begged and begged him not to cut the pear tree.

“So, I didn’t.”

Byrd didn’t have any kind of attachment to the tree but, when the pears got ripe, he found he had more friends than Carter had little liver pills.

“It seemed like everybody wanted pears,” he said. “These are Keffer pears. They’re small and shaped more like an apple and they are good any way you want to fix them. Women like them because, when they are canned, they turn white, solid white. They look pretty in the jars and, like I said, they are some of the best pears you can eat.”

Times have changed or maybe people just have forgotten or have never known what a treat a fresh picked pear can be. Anyway, it seems that today, there are more pears than people to eat them.

“People still stop by … but not as much as they used to,” Byrd said as he surveyed the pears that have dropped from the tree.

“The tree just can’t hold them all,” he said.

“Has to let go … but they won’t go to waste. Something will come along and eat them.”

And those who want to sample the goodness of the late summer fruit are invited to stop by and pick what they want. Nothing much is free anymore but Byrd’s pears are and you don’t even have to ask.