Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Flashback - Rouster's Apple House

I have mentioned a few times on this blog that I worked at an apple orchard while in high school. I thought I'd go ahead and elaborate on it for a Friday Flashback. If you read this, and have worked there, do work there, or have been there I would greatly appreciate a comment. Share something you remember or like there ;-)

My older sister worked at Rouster's first. By the time I started working there though, she was already working somewhere else. I think I worked one season alone, but before I knew it I was working with my little sister and two good friends high school friends. My mom was even helped out at the cash register on some of the super busy weekends.

Generally we only worked on the weekends in the fall, 10pm-6pm. Perfect hours for a high school student. Enough time to "sleep in" and enough time to get home and then go hang with friends! Except for homecoming.... when everyone wanted off. Hey, a girl has got to get her hair an makeup done right ;-)

In the summer we worked in the Blue Berry Barn, 8am -noon. Those hours were a little harsher - but it was the summer and only once or twice a week. Most of out time there was spent wiping out buckets, weighing blueberries or standing in the field directing people where to go.

The drive to work was a good 20/30 minutes long, so we usually car pooled. One time we were early so we wasted some time driving around. I pulled into a park.... and got PULLED OVER. I think I was going 30mph in a 15mph zone. I'm such a badass.

Anyway getting to the point. This is where we worked in the Apple House.


Amazingly, my sister took these picture while she was in Ohio last year - not a thing has changed. It looks a little different when its busy and people are working ;-) We bagged tagged and labeled apples back here. Any apples you wouldn't want to take a bite of went to the cider bin, any rotten ones in the trash and all the pretty ones were reserved for the top of the bags. After working back here long enough, you learn the difference between a 1/2peck, a peck, and a 1/2 bushel. You know what apple makes a good pie and you learn the different sweet and tart. apples. Most importantly though, you learn how to make a bag full of round objects stand perfectly!


If you were working in the back bagging apples, it was your job to keep the shelves stocked. We each had a section or room that we were responsible for keeping intact. Usually we were teamed up with someone to help.


Occasionally you would hear an apple stampede and you'd run out to clean up rolling apples. It's a sound I will always remember. Usually the cause was a crooked bag or a careless customer. I believe on one occasion a shelf give out.

It would get so crowded in the fall, especially when the Krispy apples were in. We would squeeze through the masses with 2-4 bags in our hands while getting bombarded with questions and sometimes losing an apple on the way.

On slow days when everything was done and no one was in sight we'd snack on cider, pretzels and twizzlers and warm up for a second by the fire. After typing that last sentence... I could really go for a pretzel dipped in caramel or some pickled baby corn (my FAVORITE).

It was a great high school job. A place I always want to visit when I'm home. I could go on and on about the memories with friends and a bunch of little details, but I'll save that for another time.

Rouster's Apple House 2009 Rouster's Apple House 2009
Photos by: Mark Birkle

What/where was your first job?


  1. My first job?

    Coast to Coast Hardware.

    A locally owned corner hardware store in a suburbian area.

    I worked there from 1985 - 1993.

    It was the BEST DARN JOB a teenaged boy could imagine...

    Like you, I have many fond memories and friends that I made from my time at Coast to Coast.

    Plus... I learned a TON of knowledge that I still use today! Electrical, Plumbing, Woodworking, etc, etc, etc!

  2. "bag full of round objects stand perfectly!" -- haha oh those were the days! that job was pretty fun,and i still visit when i go back to Ohio. They always talk about how fast i was moving around with those bags of apples! I miss the smell and feel of the cooler.. nothing like cold, crisp, fresh apples!!! It's great they are still around! mmm i haven't had good cider in I don't know how long!!
    i loved picking blueberries, that was probably my favorite job ever... standing in the field... alone...eating the really huge ones and plucking away in silence...

  3. Apple orchards are the BEST and we have SOOO many in Ohio and Michigan.

    My first job was at a grocery store bagging groceries - then I got "promoted" to the seafood department. I still think that qualifies for a segment on Dirty Jobs.

  4. That's such a unique and fun job!

    My first job was working at VF Factory Outlet where we sold items for "1/2 off the everyday price!" and constantly got asked "so this is *really* half price?" and I'd say "yes, it's half off the lowest ticketed price every day of the year."

    I got some high quality Tommy Hilfiger underwear for really cheap. :)

  5. I so enjoy reading your blog. & bags of apples are one of my favorite fall memories! Honey crisp are my favorites!!! I've always wanted to go out to the orchard (there's one about 10 minutes from my house) to pick my own!

  6. i miss working there!! i am obsessed with apples right now, they are so yummy! back then though i didn't like them that much! i try to make it over there a couple times a year!
    i remember when you got pulled over! that was crazyyyy.

  7. We go every year blueberry picking at Rouster's. Love it! The blueberries are the best and so cheap.

    My first job was at a pottery place - glazing vazes... sounds more interesting than it is!

  8. I think I started baby sitting my dad's bosses' kids when I was only about 12 or 13 myself, then the summer just before I was 14 I spent picking up and planting potatoes. I was the only girl - I was tough back then!!!
    But all my other summers through high school I spend working on berry fruit farms - raspberries and strawberries mainly. Generally I spent my whole day out amongst the vines picking berries into big buckets for jam, but as I got older & more experienced I got to pick berries for the punnets for sale to customers. The family I mostly worked for had enough kids of their own that they got all the prime jobs - the rest of us just spend all day out in the fields!!
    The final summer jsut before I was 18 I worked for a different family and got to work in the store occasionally then.

  9. @FatherofFive, A hardware store sounds like fun. Always good to have those extra bits of knowledge!

    @IrisTook, That orchard was in Ohio, I grew up in Cinci ;-) I hear you about getting "promoted" I was a cachier and I got "promoted" to the deli. yick! they just needed extra hands back there I think.

    @Swanydesign, I want cider NOW! And yes, I liked sneaking a couple berries here and there too! Who didn't!?

    @DeMo Discounted under is the BEST hahah ;-)

    @Jenn, so glad you like reading it ;-) Honeycrisp ARE good!

    @Heather It was so fun working with friends! i remember you not liking the apples too much! lol, funny that you like them now ;-)

    @Sonja, mmm, Eat a handful for me next time you go! I worked at a pottery place in high school too!

    @annienz Ah yes, babysitting.... that one I STILL do! lol. Sounds like you've done a lot of hard work!

    *Keep commenting everyone! I'm loving hearing about your first jobs!!

  10. I started out as an agricultural contractor at 15 while I was still at school, on weekends & holidays, before going full-time at 17 for a few years. The first job I did for the company was grading potatoes - pretty much what you did for apples, I did for spuds. It was pretty tough as jobs go, but not the worst.
    One of the best jobs back then was 'roguing' - walking through a field of wheat barley and picking out the rogue wild oats. On a sunny day, it was really quite pleasant. It didn't require much concentration either so if the farmer was generous, or maybe expecting a good harvest that year, he'd sometimes fork out for some beers at lunch break.
    On the whole though I think I'm romanticising - It wasn't all sunny days and roguing for generous farmers. Mostly it was rainy, and mostly I'd be doing a rubbish job like cutting cabbages for a skinflint!
    But I've enjoyed reminiscing, and I enjoyed your flashback too, thank you.