When we were young every year my brothers and I had a traditional Green Plum Fight. In the spring when it was time to thin the plums, the crews would go through the orchards pulling small green plums that were about an inch in diameter off the trees to thin the crop, ensuring larger sized fruit later at harvest time. For 2 or 3 days, Paul and I would follow behind the crews when we came home from school. I remember using the brown plastic bags that potatoes came in to gather my plums. We would pick up as many of these hard green plums as we could from the ground, filling as many bags as we could. Sometimes we’d even go to grandma’s where the crews used grandpa’s thinning platform. This was one of grandpa’s wonderful inventions that was never marketed.
The thinning platform was a trailer made with two levels. One was a few feet off the ground, the second upper level was above that, giving a man enough room to stand on the bottom level. There were branch-like platforms that could be pulled out from the main platform on each corner of the upper level. There were railings to hang on to up there. The idea was to pull the platform with a tractor down the orchard rows between the trees. You could stand on the platform to thin, instead of being up on ladders, and having to move the ladder from one part of the tree to another. It was a great idea, and we used the platform for many years.
The good thing about the platform was that the floor of it became covered with little green plums during the thinning. You could carefully sweep arm loads of these little plums right into your bags. You had to be careful not to get slivers in your hands when you did that, as the plank floor boards were rough. This was a great way to get a lot of plums quickly.
We also made ourselves shields from pieces of plywood, with a strap nailed on the back to hang on to. We found everything we needed in the junk shed.
Once Paul and I had our bags full to the brim, we declared war. War on Dad. I don’t know that he ever collected his own plums, or if he just picked up what he could scramble to find when we pelletted him with ours. In any case, we bombarded him with little hard green plums, and he fired them back at us. We hid behind trees, behind boxes around the shed, around corners. We snuck up on Dad and we let him have it. It was real war to us. Those plums were hard and they stung when you were hit. Dad had no mercy. Nor did we. The war lasted until our bags were empty. It was the only war we ever really fought. I don’t remember who won, I suppose we each did.