Now and then strange people called New Yorkers stopped at our little vegetable stand to buy strawberries or sweet corn. They seemed to be excited to be out in the country buying real food and I felt sorry for them, living in a far off, paved-over land where they couldn’t grow food.
One Sunday afternoon I was running the stand and Pop and his friend Crosswires, the electrician, were talking nearby. “Uh oh, here comes some city slickers,” Crosswires said. Sure enough, a family of New Yorkers pulled up and piled out of their fancy car, excited as usual to have found some real food. The biggest difference between New Yorkers and regular people that I could see was that their children were forced to wear shoes, which made me feel even more sorry for them.
“Tell me,” the New Yorker dad asked Pop, “is it dangerous picking strawberries?” I was shocked at this question and thought maybe the lack of real food made New Yorkers stupid. Pop kept a straight face, though, and answered, “Not if someone holds the ladder.” Pop’s answer shocked me even more, since he never lied, but something was going on that I didn’t understand, so I said nothing.
The New Yorkers bought ten quarts of strawberries, handed me the five dollars and drove happily away. As soon as they did, Pop and his friend started laughing like crazy. “Hold the ladder!” Crosswires said, and they laughed some more.
Strawberries, of course, grow on the ground, not up a tree. This story was retold many times, along with the one about the New Yorker lady who, held up by cows crossing the road, angrily yelled that she didn’t need dairy farmers because she bought her milk at the store.
Excerpt from Magic volume two. Magic Barn volume one on Amazon Here.