Another Sign of the Times
A reader writes in:
Last weekend at the Dupont Circle farmers' market here in DC, I saw a strain of heirloom tomato named "Mortgage Lifter".
The Mortgage Lifter tomato was developed in the early 1930's in Logan, West Virginia by a radiator repairman, M.C. "Radiator Charlie" Byles. Without any experience in breeding, he made a successful cross of four of the largest tomatoes he could find - German Johnson, Beefsteak, an Italian variety, and an English variety. Radiator Charlie sold the first seedlings of his new tomato in the 1940's for one dollar each to customers who drove up to 200 miles for his famous plants that bore tasty tomatoes averaging two and a half pounds. With these sales, Charlie managed to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in only six years, and so the tomato was named Mortgage Lifter.