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February 3, 2024

Fantasy Fruits and Vegetable Head Man Postcards by Bernhardt Wall From the Early 20th Century

In an old (50 years ago) issue of Postcard Collector the author of an article about Bernhardt Wall called him the “King of Postcards.” If the estimate that he did the artwork for more than five thousand postcards is true, it is a well-deserved title. Most collectors of artist-signed postcards know his name, but it may be fair to say that many collectors have no idea of the range of topics Wall illustrated.

One of the most adorable of his efforts is the circa 1910, 14-card set known as Wall’s Animated Fruits and Vegetables. The title on each card is based on a common popular expression, i.e., You’re the Apple of My Eye, that contains the name, or a homonym, (carrot or karat) of a fruit or vegetable within it. Most are cute, but some are far-fetched, since, to the best of this writer’s knowledge, it is not possible to “cabbage” someone or something. And, further more if you know how to “melon,” we would like to join you.

1. Apple

You Are the Apple of My Eye

The phrase the apple of one’s eye dates back at least to the ninth century, but it was probably used in conversation long before that time. Originally, the apple of one’s eye referred to the pupil of the human eye. People believed that the pupil was a round, solid object. In a time without proper eye care, sight was a precious commodity. It wasn’t long before the apple of one’s eye became a metaphor for something precious. This metaphor was used several times in the King James version of the Bible, as in Psalms: “Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”

2. Cabbage

I’d Like To Cabbage You Myself

Good luck!

3. Ears (Corn)

I’m all Ears, Tell Me All About It

Having one’s ear is meant to put someone at ease. Life is sometime troublesome and all that is needed to ease stressful situations is to have an opportunity to tell someone or cry on someone’s shoulder. I’m all ears is a statement of willingness to help.

4. Cucumber

I’m as Cool as a Cucumber but, My Heart is Warm

The phrase was first found in a poem by the British poet John Gay. In a 1732 anthology he wrote, New Song on New Similes. The phrase means to be very calm, without worries. It describes a person who is unaffected by pressure. One interesting fact about As Cool as a Cucumber; the meaning of the word “cool” in the phrase doesn’t mean having a low temperature, on the contrary, it means assured and composed.

5. Eyes (Potato)

I Have my Eyes on You

Having one’s eyes on someone can be an expression of admiration or a reminder that the watcher is being mindful of his duty to keep the other from harm or injury. It can also mean that someone is keeping watch to be able to imitate the actions of the person being watched – often used this way in the financial world.

6. Karat (Carrot)

My Love is 22 Karat Fine, Dearie

Carats are one of the more traditional ways to quote gold purity. 22k gold purity is equivalent to 916.7 fineness, or 91.67% pure gold. The reason 22 carat gold was popular for older coins is that pure gold is very soft. If pure gold had been used for circulating coins, they would likely have been damaged and become misshapen over the course of their use. Instead, mints would mix the gold with a small amount of other metals (often copper) to help make the coins tougher. Carat and Karat are spellings you will see interchangeably in jewelry related texts. “Carat” as a spelling can refer to either gold purity or diamond weight, whereas “karat” can only refer to gold purity. The “carat,” first used in 1552 predates “karat” but only by a few years.

7. Lemon

I May Be a Lemon But to be Squeezed

The modern use of the word “squeeze” as a nickname for a girlfriend has no known connection to the yellow fruit.

8. Melon

I’m Your Melon Honey

Watermelons taste nothing like honey. Other representative species – there are more than twenty varieties – in the melon family are cantaloupe, honeydew, muskmelons, casaba melons, crenshaws, and crane melons all make wonderful soup and salad ingredients, but no one writes jokes about them. Why not, it may be just as much fun to “casaba” with someone than it is to “cabbage” them.

9. Onion

I Could Cry My Eyes Out For-You

Why should we cry over onions but not spilled milk?

10. Pair (Pear)

You & I Would Make a Dandy Pair

The idea of a beautiful woman and a handsome man making a dandy pair first appeared in a Valentine’s Day greeting card, circa 1910. Also, the making of a dandy pair was used in the children’s rhyme, A Bear in Tennis Shoes, as well as in dozens of advertisements for items sold in twos.

11. Peach

You’re the Peach for Me

The French idiom “Avoir la pêche” (literally: to have the peach) is used to mean I’m in good shape or to be in top form, to be “full of beans,” or “full of piss and vinegar.” The phase migrated across the English Channel in the eighteen century and first appeared in British newspapers circa 1780, as, I’m simply peachy.” At the same time the meaning changed slightly to You’re a Real Peach,” a way of acting out a century long-standing tradition of giving a peach to the friend you like best.

12. Pine (Pineapple)

I’m No Indian but I Do Pine for You

The verb “to pine” derives from the Old English word pinian, which meant to torment, cause to suffer, or afflict. In turn pinian comes from German and Old Norse words for pain and punishment. Loose interpretations of “to pine for” is to love someone so much that the very thought of not being with them is painful: sort of self-inflicted punishment.

13. Pumpkin

I’m Some Pumpkin

In the folk legend, Cinderella or as it was known before Disney, The Little Glass Slipper, the young daughter finds herself an orphan and is at the mercy of her wicked stepmother. She wants to attend the king’s party, but her stepmother won’t permit it. A fairy godmother intervenes and with the swish of her magic wand transforms a pumpkin into a coach. But the magic is limited to the hours before midnight. Cinderella is the belle of the ball, but when the clock begins to chime the bewitching hour, she dashes for the door to avoid discovery. On the castle’s front staircase, she loses one of her glass slippers – the only evidence of her dream. The phrase suggests that the person who wants to be someone else, can be them, but your dream is limited. Act quickly or else!

14. Turnup (Turnip)

I Will Always Turnup When You Want Me

The last card in Mr. Walls adventure through the garden patch (or its homonyms) ends here.

(This original article was published on Postcard History)


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