Cherry vs. lemon: A decision based on a lifetime of experience
By Marv Kohlbeck
It was decision time. At a recent church chicken dinner fundraiser, the server stood in front of me seeking my choice of lemon or cherry pie for dessert. I chose lemon.
Even though I love cherry pie, the decision to choose lemon over cherry was based on past experiences, some of which might seem absurd.
In chronological order, my first memory reflects back on my youth during World War II.
Our family in Manitowoc County would make an annual trip to Door County to visit relatives who owned a cherry orchard. Mom, Dad, Grandpa, and Grandma looked forward to picking enough cherries for our winter supply for pies and jellies. My two brothers and I did not relish the packed car on the 40-mile trip, but our grandparents did not own a car as they did not drive, and they were good cherry pickers.
My brothers and I were more interested in visiting with our cousins, who had a huge supply of comic books stashed in their playhouse. When we arrived we were reminded that cherry picking came first, and reading comic books would be later while family members visited.
The pails were removed from the trunk, and we received final instructions of where and how to pick. The relatives firmly advised us that we were not allowed to mingle or talk to the German prisoners of war that were assigned to help with the harvest during that labor shortage era.
Picture yourself perched in a cherry tree picking cherries. As you gaze at another section of the orchard, you see a group of men in drab clothing with the letters “PW” on their backs. As teenagers we were apprehensive of these strangers that the news media had portrayed as our enemies.
My grandfather had different ideas. He was of German decent and spoke the German language fluently, and he was determined to learn about the lives of the prisoners and the fatherland. He found that they were happy to be working here and getting decent lodging and regular meals rather than the fear of fighting in the war. At that age we could not comprehend all the factors of the war, but even today, a cherry pie reflects the image of the “PW” letters.
Fast forwarding a number of years brings to mind a Lions Club dinner where I won, you guessed it, a cherry pie. Before the program was over, I placed my prize pie in my unlocked car. Later, when I returned to my car, I discovered the pie was missing. Fortunately, the practical joker who stole the pie brought it to me the next day.
Then there was the time that a local church had a pie auction, and I was the high bidder of a cherry pie. My wife and I looked forward to sampling that cherry pie for dessert that evening. We never finished the first slice as it tasted rancid. We found out that the pie maker who donated the pie had used lard that had been in storage too long.
Finally, one year at our deer hunting camp evening meal we looked forward to a cherry pie that one of the hunters had purchased from a neighbor who specialized in selling baked goods. Believe it or not, the pie only contained four cherries, hardly enough to carry the flavor.
With all those experiences to reflect back on, would you not also choose lemon over cherry pie?