(c)2012 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
The Carver family gathered on the floor of their apple house on Cosby in October.
From left are Kevin Weatherby, Danielle Weatherby, Irene and Danny Ray Carver,
and their other dajughter, Stacey.
|Published: 11:43 PM, 10/26/2012
||Last updated: 11:43 PM, 10/26/2012
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Halloween night on Wednesday should
still be well illuminated by the Hunters full moon over our hometown on Monday night, as cooler
weather settles over us like cobwebs.
Nothing says fall is here
better than the colors and juicy crunch of apples, and you can find them by the thousands at
Carver's apple house on Cosby, if you don't mind the crowd of October tourists that I witnessed on
a weekday visit.
One of the first families that talked with me was
from Valdosta, Georgia. David Adams said he had been coming to the Kyle Carver-founded orchard for
decades. Adam's parents, Randall and Sarah Adams, said that they been stopping by for the past 50
years. Last year they bought a case of sorghum because the mountain variety is so much different
than what they have in South Georgia.
You can always find the Carver
family and, of course, the Williamsons, Irene Carver's family, at work every day and into the
night. Danny Ray Carver exclaimed, "She's killing herself," because Irene had been at the
restaurant until 11 p.m. or later. Mid week and mid afternoon the restaurant was still crowded with
people loving the catfish and chicken. The apple fritters with cinnamon flavored thick apple butter
for dipping suited me. I noticed the Carvers' popular fried apple pies had already sold out. Better
arrive early to buy these.
Just as you will find visitors from 40 or
50 years ago, to a time the small apple shed was on the Cosby Highway, you will find some workers
who have been there long enough to have helped Marjorie (Fancher) Carver, Kyle's widow. She died in
Sept. 2002. Then they worked for Danny Ray. One of those old timers is Mayford Lunsford. He along
with Robert Evans were sorting and washing bright green pippin apples. A helper, who might be Danny
Ray on the forklift, brings in large wooden bins full of apples to dump into wash water. Then the
apples travel up a conveyor for sorting into bushel baskets.
workers, and all local folks, are on the floor helping customers and bringing in more to sell. One
of those was Kelvin Williams. I also saw Judy Shelton and Kitty Whitlock, who has worked on and off
since 1970 and continuous since 1997. More attractive than the apples are displays of gourds and
pumpkins that seemed to light up the inside of the barn-sized apple house. You will also find more
than apples, including produce, apple butter, apple cider pressed and processed right there, and
unusual foods such as fig jam. There's a wells stocked candy shop nearby too.
Danny Ray took some time from work to talk about the 2012 crop. If you haven't
heard, most of the major growers, such as in Michigan, lost the entire apple crop because of an
early freeze. The further north you go from the mountains of Tenn., the more the orchards were
damaged. "We've been blessed," he said, explaining that there was only mild damage on Cosby. He
has also benefited because many of those northern packers require thousands and tens of thousands
of apples to justify cranking up the packing house. They had some apples and decided to sell these
outright to a few buyers such as Danny Ray. "We've got plenty of fruit" and in many varieties. He
speculates that one of the reasons Carver's orchards escape a lot of damage is the huge variety of
apples they grow. This didn't happen accidentally, as Kyle Carver spent a lot of time acquiring,
grafting, and expanding apple varieties. Sixty years later it has paid off.
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