‘Mrs. Carpenter can sure cut apricots; sixty trays in an eight hour day,’ that’s all I ever heard. I never met this awesome woman but she was a legend in the Berri-Winkie area for cutting the most trays of fruit in a day.
A tray is about 3ft by 2 ft. It is supported on two planks with buckets of fruit placed on the left hand side for ease and speed in grabbing fruit. The knife is a short, curved, sharp pointed blade.
The fruit is snatched in the left hand, the blade is placed across where the stem was to cut the little membrane and release the stone to be flicked into a bucket at the feet of the cutter. The fingers of the left hand spin the fruit around much like a spin bowler, so the point of the knife slices the apricot in half and placed in meticulous rows until the tray is full.
The fruit must be flat so the juice when sulphured doesn’t spill out. The dried product must bright red or orange and sweet. A perfectly flat tray of halved fruit in neat, tightly packed rows is a beautiful sight. Good cutters take pride in their trays of perfectly cut fruit.
Of course, Mrs Carpenter grew up in the cutting shed. That’s why she is a good cutter. She started when she was young,’ I kept hearing. ‘You can’t cut apricots unless you started as a kid.’
The story continued, ‘Mrs Carpenter slips the stone. It’s not a good idea though,’ the blockers took a dim view of such practises, ‘because it breaks the cup and lets the juice run out. The fruit is spoilt and the price is lowered.’
I was one of the army of house wives and kids that moved out onto the blocks at harvest time to make money. Why couldn’t I be a gun cutter? True, I was a Johnny-come-lately, but it couldn’t be all that hard.
I signed up with my four kids at a small shed next door to where I lived. I reached 40 – 50 trays a day and then the fruit was finished.
But I had learnt how to slip the stone without damaging the cup and my trays were picture perfect.
The next harvest I signed up at one of the biggest sheds in the area. There were ten acres of apricots to be cut and dried. This was my year; the kids were bigger. I introduced them to the cutting knife and showed them how to cut. The first couple of days I fell short of my tally. I needed to cut a tray every five minutes. I paced myself by my watch; soon the sixty was a daily tally.
I had arrived as a big gun cutter. Somehow legend was not my name. Mrs Carpenter was a settler; she continued to be the stuff of legends. I was the wife of a lowly block hand, the new kid on the block.
Speaking of legends, Jesus Christ is no legend or a myth. He was around when the world began, in fact, he was with his Father, God, and the creator when the universe was created. The book of Genesis says, ‘Let us make man in our own image.’
When we can admit that we cannot reach the standard of life God requires and accept Jesus as our saver, and are born again, we become as one with Jesus. We are recreated in the likeness of Jesus. We don’t have to work hard to better ourselves God through Jesus accepts us.