I grew up in a beautiful agricultural along the border in South Texas town of McAllen. And by agricultural I mean there were acres of all sorts of foods being grown with the two being citrus; oranges and grapefruits. A neighbor town, Mission, even had a parade to celebrate the citrus called the Orange Parade.
In our first home we had two trees; a peach tree and an orange tree. This was back in the 1970s and I remember Jimmy Carter was president and times were rough economically for the nation as a whole. My dad, a Vietnam Veteran, had one of his old Army buddies come down and visit, whom me and my brother affectionately called Uncle Jeff. Well on the first day of his visit, me and my older brother go outside back to get a snack. You guessed it, we brought back a couple of oranges. Uncle Jeff just freaked out that here we are just eating the fruit from the back yard as if we had no care in the world.
Growing up, I would spend time with my grandfather working on the yards since he was a yardman. It was easy work and it was just to make sure that nothing happen to Papa Nene during the heat of the day. Now, a couple of the yards had orange trees and every now and then Papa Nene would just stop work and cut up an orange to snack on. The owners didn’t mind as we were throwing away rotten fruit just as quickly as we could pick them.
In Junior High, I ran cross country and the route we took from the Junior High out to the old Reynolds Metal fabrication on 3 mile line was a long a large groves of oranges. Now I never stopped, but a few of my teammates would stop and grab one and quickly eat it. Of course our coach would check our hands after each practice, but I was never caught because I had one in my own back yard still!
The freeze of 1983 really did a number in the citrus industrial but eventually everything came back. It was during the 1970s and even today, that the Ruby Red Grapefruit is still one of the better fruits out there. But I did not care much for it and it is not for lack of trying. I did try it more than once; first with salt then with sugar then plain but the tartness was just too much for my tastebuds. All that changed one day when I was out helping my dad mow some yards out in the sticks for a lack of a better term.
It was me, my older brother, my dad, and two other co-workers and we mowed somebody’s acreage. We loaded up the truck and started to make the trip back home when the truck wouldn’t start or just gave up the ghost. Either way, we were stranded and had to wait for someone to “rescue” us. In the meantime, my stomach is grumbling and I was starving. For those who know me, I love to eat food and unfortunately we were all out except we were parked by a grove of Rudy Red Grapefruit.
Now let me tell you, when you are hungry, that was the best tasting Ruby Red I ever ate. It was sweet and delicious and was just enough to make me fill full. I only took one and I hope the farmer didn’t know or if he reads this I am really sorry for stealing. I can now stomach the tartness of a Ruby Red and I love eating it plain or with some salt and nothing else. I enjoy it cut and peeled in different ways and I really miss eating this fruit.
We are faced with a lot in our lives and I know that I am faced with a lot these days. We get used to living a life a certain way, such as eating oranges. But we have to learn to adapt when we face a crisis or a different situation and we have to learn that sometimes we have to eat a Ruby Red Grapefruit in order to survive.