SHNS photo courtesy USDA
Pear trees are narrow and upright in form making excellent choices for smaller yards.

Back again to the cannery – I can't help it. The guy conducting just has to use the word "cannery" and my arm went up. I'm writing the word and my hand shoots strait up. The impulse is too strong.

I think it's the machinery.

I don't normally work with belts and gears, so I'm like a little kid – 50-year-old Sunbeam with an intense interest of metal parts that go clickety-clack at high speeds.

And I was not disappointed when, after I slipped on my size 30 boots and extremely modest (and plastic) apron, I saw a valley of...


The cannery that day was crammed with pears and pear-canning equipment to make any group of Webelos sublimely content with the world in all its mechanical detail, and to appreciate the mechanical engineering of moving parts.

Get this:

1. A big dumper/hoist grabbed at a HUGE bin of pears and tipped it at an inverted angle to allow fruit to fall in a HUGE vat of cleansing water.

2. The pears were then pulled out of the bath to be placed on a conveyor belt to be manually placed on a pearerer.

3. From the pearererer, another conveyor put the pears to be sorted, inspected and canned.

4. And then, they are boiled, vacuumed and packaged.

In other words, a dream. I secretly wanted the pearerer. I know not to aspire in the church, but an unspoken wish can be thought, right?

A big hand took my shoulder (because I was attached) and firmly planted me in front of the machine to "gut out" not one, but six pears — the pearerer. Happy day!

This machine, and I am not making this up on whit, took six pears and cored, skinned and sliced in about much time it takes for a congregation to say "amen" and stand up after the closing prayer. Ya gotta be fast, though. Those hands have to move like greased lightening to pick up a pear and place it upside down in the white pear puck holder to be processed.

Let me tell you, some of them pears do not want to be cored, skinned and sliced. Who wouldn't? More than an angel's portion got claimed by the cement floor.

The only bad thing — I wore a nice shirt to wear for a meeting afterword. The corerer, after coring the pear, is a hollow tube by which a puff of air extracts the remaining core toward me, relentlessly (even with a the protective sheet of metal between us), at roughly 30,000 pounds per square inch, so I had spatters of pear guts all over my clothing, face and glasses. A small price to pay, really, in the whole automated scheme of volunteer service.

The silver lining — High-powered, high-pressured hydraulic hoses. I cleaned the pear machine, the floor and the conveyor. I sprayed the living heck out of the ceiling, the wall, Brother Bidstrip and me.

All in all, a good experience at the cannery.

Oops, my arm shot up again.

Bill Hill is from Idaho Falls, Idaho.