After the 1915 Gravenstein Apple Show

by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

"The Gravenstein Apple has, above all others, proved to be the money winner in Sonoma County. It is a healthy, vigorous tree. It always bears a good crop, never overbearing, as many varieties do; is of the best quality of all known apples..."—Luther Burbank

After the logging, after the plowing,
the planting, the yield, most hills stood slightly
bereft but ever producing apples.
To celebrate the escalation of
apple sales, the Sebastopol Apple
Growers' Union raised a tent across from
the train depot, began the Gravenstein
Apple Show in 1910.  Photos show
uniformed boys lined in neat rows, women
dressed in white floor-length dresses, entering
the sawdust-floored tent.  Inside, the warm air
swelled with the tart picked apples arranged in
sculptures that set into form history
of the apple, the town.  Fictions or truths
built out of the bittersweet fruit yielded
gristmills, locomotives, a gold ridge farm,
even Gold, a Petaluma river
steamship that shipped the apples down the slough
to San Francisco Bay.  Until war closed
the fair and that same steamship was loaded
instead with the cargo of men and boys,
their arms still browned from the season's harvest,
their eyes looking back to the golden hills.

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