By Brenda Eubanks Burnette
In researching the biographies for an upcoming book on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame members, I came across a digitized book by Google online that was written in 1887. It’s titled “Florida Facts Both Bright and Blue: A Guide Book to Intending Settlers, Tourists, and Investors From a Northerner’s Standpoint; Plain Unvarnished Truth, Without ‘Taffy’; No Advertisements or Puffs” by Oliver Marvin Crosby.
It was amazing in that the author chronicled much about the citrus industry, the major transportation routes, cities, packinghouses, pests and diseases, as well as the tourist trade. He notes that his observations “are chronicled in as terse, plain, and practical a way as we can command. Much is crude and unpolished, for beautifully-rounded sentences have not been studied so much as the most direct way of stating things so as not to be misunderstood.”
And that he does! Although I could highlight numerous practices Crosby noted in use at that time, the paragraph he wrote below made me laugh as I remembered how we used to eat oranges when we were kids:
“HOW TO EAT AN ORANGE. ‘Nasty, sloppy things! I won’t eat another one this winter!’ The speaker was bending with orange juice dripping from each finger, and flecks of yellow sacs bedaubed his mustache and beard. He was a new-comer and had not learned the fine art of orange eating that a Floridian of a month’s residence acquires; for, be it known, the orange pulled fresh from the tree is a far different article from the same after weeks of transportation and exposure for sale, during which it not only loses a portion of its juice, the surfeit of which so annoyed the grumbler above quoted, and which delights the average tourist, but a large portion of flavor evaporates as well. To enjoy to the full the best of our known fruits, one must walk out under the verdant trees, select a medium-sized, thin-skinned russet, pull, pull hard until off it comes, leaving a hole at the stem, ‘plugged’ and worthless for shipping, but just right for eating.”
Crosby goes on to explain: “Pare it as you would an apple, cut in halves cross ways, and suck from the ruptured cells nectar fit for gods. If more fastidious, use a teaspoon. Add to the charm of orange eating, a midwinter mid-day, temperature 70 to 80 degrees, rendering open-air exercise a delight, and you have two important reasons why Florida is and always will be popular as a winter resort, especially when it can be reached in thirty-six hours from New York City.”
More than 130 years ago and both reasons still ring true today!
Brenda Eubanks Burnette is executive director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Pieces of the Past is presented in partnership with Florida Southern College’s McKay Archives Center in Lakeland.
Help preserve citrus historyDo you have any photos, memorabilia or stories you’d like to share or donate to the Citrus Archives? Contact Brenda@BurnetteandAssociates.com. Visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com to view videos, photos, postcards and citrus labels.
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