“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The Apple Way

The Apple Way

Some of you may not of heard of the apple way. You old timers should know what I am talking about. It was around the late 1800’s early 1900’s. Immigrants from all over Europe were coming to the USA. My dad was one of them. Most of these people could only speak their native language. Many would have small book that would translate their tongue into English. They could at least get along on their own.

Most of the men would take most any job offered to them. At least till they got a few dollars in their pockets. Many of the men went to work for the railroads (my dad did this). They didn’t have to speak good English they just had to do the work. Railroads were the main form of transportation in those days, this lasted into the late forties early fifties. They were building railroads all the way to the west and into all of the small towns throughout the U.S. So getting a job on the railroad was quite easy.

But some men did not want to work that hard or leave the big cities. In order to eat most men would do anything. On the streets of New York City people would be seen selling all kinds of things. This leads to the Apple Story. I’ll call this man Carmen; he was walking the streets looking for work. He noticed an old man selling apples for five cents each. Carmen watched for quite a while, then he thought to himself, I could do that. He had fifty cents to his name, so he went over to the old man selling apples. He bought three for fifteen cents, then walked down the road a block or so. There was no one selling apples on this corner, so Carmen stood there as people came by and asked if they would like to buy some apples for ten cents a piece. Most of the people would say no, old man Johnson only charges five cents for his apples. Carmen would say but my apples are the best, they’re really fresh. His line of bull would usually work; they would buy his apples.

After he sold the three apples he now had thirty cents; he had two moneybags that most men carried their money in. He put the thirty cents in one bag and kept the other thirty-five cents in the other bag that he had. Then he hurried down to old man Johnson to buy six more apples. He almost ran back to his corner. It took him another two or three hours to sell the next six apples, which gave him a total of sixty cents. He ran back to old man Johnson to buy twelve more apples, but by this time Carmen was really hungry. He told himself I’ll eat just one. He now had eleven apples and one dollar and ten cents. Carmen thought to himself this is the way to make money.

Each day Carmen would buy and sell apples. He was living in a fiophouse for fifty cents a day. It wasn’t long before Carmen had a few dollars in his bag. Old man Johnson never noticed Carmen selling apples (Johnson’s apples).

In the winter it gets really cold in New York. The wind and snow in the winter are just awful. It then rains in the fall and spring. So one day Carmen built a folding stand and chair to sit on. He built these out of old lumber he found in the alleys.  He was real good with building things so it was no problem to finish the stand and chair. This was one if not the first folding stand and chair. After working all day and half the night he would fold the stand and chair up and take the big sack of apples to his flop house. Selling apples was real easy; this went on for almost a year. By this time Carmen had quite a nest egg. He started a bank account at a local bank so that he didn’t have to worry about being robbed. He kept oniy enough to buy two or three dozen apples at a time.

About this time old man Johnson had rented a corner and he had built a nice fruit stand. He now was selling all kinds of fruit. He stayed real busy and made himself lots of money. Old man Johnson was getting old and his health was failing. A few months went by and Carmen talked to Johnson about selling his stand. He told Carmen he would think about it, said to stop by in a few days. Carmen went back to his stand selling apples. Always doubling his money. He had no over head so all the profit was his to keep. He knew that someday the city would charge him for using the corner and that got him thinking even more about buying Johnson’s stand. He would have it made. Carmen stopped by to see Mr. Johnson one day but the stand was closed. The sign said that Mr. Johnson had died. Carmen thought now what can I do. He talked to a lot of people, finally he found the owner of the corner. His name was Mr. Nelson. He told Carmen he’d rent the corner to him and he could start selling apples at once. This really made Carmen happy, he soon had the stand full of fruit. By this time he’d found out where to buy fruit and other things whole sale. Soon he was selling all he could buy. He worked day and night. With a hot plate he could keep coffee hot and make his own meals.

One day a customer said Carmen give me a cup of coffee. He did this then bells began ringing in his head. He went out bought some cups, soon he was selling coffee all day long. In the fall and winter he would really sell lots of coffee because it was so cold out. His fruit stand was really doing well. He was busy and had hired a girl to help. Wasn’t long before people would say how come you don’t have donuts to go with the coffee? Again bells started going off in his head. The very next day he started selling donuts. When all of them sold out he had the helper buy a dozen more for the next day. I’ll call the girl Donna.

Business was really going good. His bank account looked really good. Two or three years passed and Carmen noticed that the store behind him was empty. Several days later an old man by the name of Mr. Jackson stopped by to see him. He told Carmen he was old and sick and asked if he would like to rent the store with an option to buy. Carmen said maybe and went home that night really excited. He could hardly sleep; he spent most of the night thinking about buying that building. He rented the store and closed down his stand. He moved all of his fruit to the new stand. Carmen had built doors so that he could close up at night, the building was quite large and he was living in the back room. This was all he needed. He was now saving another fifty cents a day, no flophouse. Business was really good selling fruit, coffee and donuts. He was working long hours and Donna was now running the coffee bar. Carmen had bought some old bar stools and a counter from a bar that had gone out of business.

He now had a good fruit stand and coffee bar, business was doing great. One-day old man Jackson told Carmen he was really sick and only had a few months to live. He wanted to go back to the old country to die, so he needed to sell the building. They took care of all the paper work and Carmen was on his way. He spent all day and night cleaning up the store. He painted it inside and out, doing all the work on his own. One day he was teasing Donna saying we may as well get married we both could live in the back of the store. So they got married, a few years went by and they had four boys. When he had a chance to buy the store next door he did. Business was doing very well and soon the store was full of many different things. The coffee bar was busy; Donna was such a good cook and baker she made all of her own food to sell. The coffee bar was so busy soon she hired three or four girls to help. The boys were now getting old enough to work in the store. Carmen and Donna working day and night while raising a family. They were still living in the back of the store and saving money. They had a chance to buy a couple more stores, they rented these out. Money was coming in from all over. Donna used to walk to church on Sundays; while walking one day she saw a big, beautiful house for sale. So she told Carmen about it and talked him into buying it for her. They moved into the house and the boys all had their own rooms. This was a really nice home and a nice change for all of them. Carmen rebuilt the back of the store and rented it out. Their bank account began to look really good.

One day a nice young man stopped by to talk to Carmen. He said Carmen how in the world did you get all these stores and such a good business? Carmen sat the boy down and told him the apple story. (This is a true story).

Copyright © 2007 by Carmen Tom
All right reserved.

One Comment

  1. MannyL
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    This is great! Can’t wait to read more. Thanks Carmen and keep em coming ‘fingers’!

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