August 13, 2014
Kindness paid with apples

By Julie Carter, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

“Pay it forward” is an expression describing the beneficiary of a good deed, repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old but in 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel “Pay it Forward” was published and adapted into a film of the same name. The premise of the plan was to make the world a better place by spreading these good deeds.

Forty some odd years ago, there wasn’t a real phone at the ranch located five miles past the middle of nowhere New Mexico. To get a message to those folks, you had to call the neighbor who did have a phone and she in turn would call them on a radio phone something similar to what you saw Radar use on the television show “M*A*S*H”. The wire for that phone was attached to the pasture fence that ran between the neighbors and the home at the ranch.

Mama’s daughter was living in the Hondo Valley at the time and took a notion to go home to the ranch to visit her folks. As was customary, she called the neighbor who called Mama to see if she needed anything picked up in town and brought to the ranch.

Mama said she needed some apples to make applesauce. Stopping at an apple shed in the valley, the daughter asked the apple lady in charge which apples would make the best applesauce. Soon the daughter was arranging to buy a bushel of the “best apple” suggestion and be on her way.

The woman asked where she was headed and the girl answered “I’m going to a ranch near Corona to see my Mama and Daddy.”

She asked the girl who her family was and when she told her, her response was a shock.

“You are not buying any apples from me,” she declared. She then turned away and said something in Spanish to two young men who then began loading bushels of apples in the girl’s truck.

“I cannot pay for that many apples,” the girl protested.

The apple woman replied simply and firmly. “I will not sell you any apples, but I will give you a bunch of them to take to your mama and daddy."

When the girl asked “why”, the woman just replied, “They know.”

When she got home to the ranch, the first thing she did was ask Mama “why did she give us all those apples?”

Mama’s story was this. “When your Daddy was herding sheep before we married, it was his turn to go to town from sheep camp. When a herder got to go to town, he went by the other camps and the homes of the other herders to see if anyone needed anything from town. When he approached one herder’s home, the grandmother in residence warned him away. The family had smallpox.”

“Daddy went back to the sheep camp where the man was working and told him in fluent Spanish that his family was sick with smallpox. He said to the man ‘I have had the vaccination, you haven’t. You stay here and I am going to go to help your mother take care of your family.’”

Daddy stayed with that family a month and dug the graves for the two boys that did not survive smallpox. Over 50 years later, that act of kindness and sacrifice was still remembered, appreciated and a pickup load of apples to make applesauce paid it forward.

Julie can be reached for comment at