Farm Update, June 17, 2017
This is a story I like to share every year usually around the fourth of July and since this is the 20th anniversary of “the incident”, cherries right now are at their peak, and we are still driving to Baugher’s Orchards to get them, I thought it appropriate. Enjoy…
Jon Deutsch & the Teetering Tower of Cherries
Most people when they think of the Fourth of July may think of booming fireworks and backyard barbecues, maybe even a sweet and juicy slice of watermelon. I will always have the image of thousands of cherries blanketing Hipsley Mill Road and Jon Deutsch.
Back in the late nineties the only way we could keep up with the demand for cherries was to shuttle “El Diablo” back and forth from our farm to Baugher’s Orchards in Westminster, MD. “El Diablo” was an old white F-250 with black spots of spray paint covering up religious and political views of the previous owner. Its steady low rumble and palomino appearance earned it this name reminding one of the Wild West. “El Diablo” was the steady, reliable workhorse of our motley fleet of trucks dubbed the “Haul of Fame”.
1997 was a particularly good year for local sweet cherries. Some might call it a glut. I remember massive displays on our wagon on the corner of Bradley Blvd and Fairfax Road. For this particular holiday we were planning on selling a lot of cherries. I mean a LOT.
All the women loved Jon Deutsch. He had just graduated from Winston Churchill High School and had worked his summers with Norman’s for a few years. His hair grazed his shoulders and he had a bronzed muscular physique. Jon was brilliant, athletic, talented, and one of the nicest people you ever met. It almost wasn’t fair that someone could be so perfect. It was impossible to be mad at Jon, even when he played a pivotal role in such a fiasco as this.
Farmers would be inspired by the challenge of how much could be stacked on the back of “El Diablo”. It was almost a competitive sport for them. Like reverse Jenga. We would tell our farmers “…if you can get it on there we’ll take it!” Baugher’s had a lot of cherries. They wanted to double our order. Even though it seemed impossible they would make it work. Jon felt okay with the task of carefully driving the cargo back to our farm before it was loaded although once the reality stared him in the face he began to get nervous.
It was said the truck looked like a teetering skyscraper as it slowly meandered its way down Route 97. The 45 minute drive stretched into an eternity of white knuckles on the steering wheel. As the farm’s wholesalers waved goodbye to Jon and wished him luck they placed bets on whether he would make it back or not without spilling. It is the gamblers that put their money on “not” that would be the only ones to make a profit that day.
Halfway back the police pulled Jon over. They couldn’t believe what they saw. In addition to the 7 foot tall stacks of cherries on two pallets resembling the twin towers, the cab was so packed with cherries you couldn’t open the glove box. Jon’s cool and sincere composure, however, must have reassured the police and sparked some sense of hope because rather than issuing him a citation they wished him luck and sent him on his way. The fact is, Jon did make it all the way back to our farm. Almost. Except for that one last turn into the driveway.
It was the day before the weekend of the 4th of July. Red and white cherries blanketed the road to a backdrop of cornfields. We stood speechless watching as an occasional car would juice the cherries.
I was deeply saddened five years later when I received a call that Jonathan T. Deutsch had been in a fatal car crash. He is missed, and there isn’t a 4th of July that goes by where I don’t think of him. I wish his family my most heartfelt regards and fondly recall the story of Jon, Diablo, and the Tower of Cherries.
This week at the farm we began picking different varieties of zucchini, squash and squash blossoms as well as cucumbers and basil. We received our first few truck loads of composted manure which I can’t wait to spread in our vegetable beds and future orchards in the fall. Lettuce, kale, and baby greens are continuing to grow nicely and we have a steady harvest. We’ve been planting, trellising, weeding, and mulching this week during a grueling few hot days. I’d like to thank the crew for sticking through the heat and humidity and for all the fine produce. Be sure and come see us at the stands now open daily.