1/23/1942 Apple Lore
What has become of the great variety of apples which our grandparents knew? Sixty years ago there were no less than 54 varieties on exhibition at the Kutztown Fair. The names of most of these varieties had a distinct Berks County flavor- The flavor of some of the apples themselves is only a memory to those who once knew them and unknown to the rest of us.
Raymond Kiebach, of Moss Street, has published an interesting account of some of the apples which grew in the orchard of his North Heidleberg home when he was a boy. He tells us of the “Sucht net Weiter” sometimes known as “Der Yacht Abbel” and in English the “Seek-No-Further;” of the “Keim Apple” originated by the Keim family of the Oley Valley; of the Schofnass or sheepnose, as it is listed among the exhibits of the Kutztown Fair. It is probably that its English name was altogether different. Perhaps many of the apples have no English names at all. Who can tell us?
For instance what was the “Gewiss Guter” or “certainly good” literally, or the “Fallawalder” translated by Kiebach as “Falling Water” because the original tree stood near a stream. What about the English names of Schepp Abbel, Simmet (Cinnamon) “Reich (Smelling) Apple;” “Siess”, or sweet apple used to cut “Schnitz;” “Schleifscthee” which would be literally “grindstone.” But were the English names the direct translations of the dialect or did the dialect adapt itself to Englsih names? Who can inform us?
Many of the varieties shown at the Kutztown Fair bore the names of people and ost of them were traditional Berks County names. There was the Host, the Graeff, Kemmerer’s cider, Knabb, Ritter’s sweets, Rhoads, Neversink, Yost, Kelter, large Bear and small Bear, as well as the varieties still known to us today.
What has become of some of these varieties for which we have only the names? The passing of the farm orchards in the wake of commercial apple culture has lost to us many of the trees which bore sweet fruits for our forbears. The art of grafting trees was known to every farmer in former years. Today it is the special province of the nurseryman. Doubtlessly it is being done more scientifically today and more skillfully, but it stands to reason that the fewer the number of experimenters, the fewer will be the number of varieties produced. The commercial apple is developed to meet certain marketing requirements. The old timers developed their varieties to meet specific cooking, baking, and storage needs. The krauser apple was designed to be a long-laster, the Pund and Smokehouse to please the palate, the Rambo to be hidden between the crusts of pie, the Rabbel Abbel, or rattlers to fascinate children, and the Baldwin for overall purposes.
3/11/1942 Apples again
This writer’s appeal for more information about the apples of earlier days as it appeared under the caption “Apple Lore,” early last January has brought a generous response from readers. Some have written to inform him of orchards in which certain varieties are still grown, others have supplied the names of marketers and more have furnished explanations of how the multitude of varieties were developed.
Louis Kraemer of Stony Creek Mills remembers that many of the older varieties were smaller than the modern commercial product and many of them were inferior in quality, though not all of them. These varieties, known to the nurserymen as “sports” were probably very local in character, perhaps not known outside of the particular township in which they were developed.
“I did feel that some of them were equal to some of the much touted varieties of today” he declares. Then he asks “Where are the old ‘Moi Kaersche’ and the ‘Honig Kaersche’ varieties?”
An old-time resident of Gibraltar writes to tell us that his mother recognized all of the varieties listed in this column and offered the opinion that the English names suggested as translations of the dialect terms were all correct in English usage.
Raymond Kiebach of Reading, authority on apple lore, and William Keller, his collaborator in folkloristic research, suggest a theory about the names of the varieties which confirms Kramer’s point. Neighbors would obtain twigs from each other for the purpose of grafting their young trees. It was natural therefore that the resultant variety would be named for the man from whom the twig was obtained. Then as Kiebach puts it so adroitly.
“If I were to receive a twig from you, I should , in all probablity, name the fruit ‘Der Ewich Yeager Apple’”