CHESTER — The Big Apple was not from New York City. He was born in West Chester, a place so small the neighbors were rumors. Small Chester where Ed Melton lived almost all his life is not big New York, either.
But in downtown Chester, as sure as it was hot in the summer, there sure was a Big Apple and his name was Ed Melton. He had that name because nobody in Chester, or maybe anywhere, sold more apples. Melton, a produce peddler in his later decades was in Chester either Big Apple or The Apple Man.
Melton died Friday at 90. A funeral for him will be 2 p.m. Sunday at Parkway Baptist Church.
Melton worked for more than 40 years in the Gayle textile mill of Chester, but it was at his spot near the First Baptist Church on Church Street in Chester that he became a fixture. If it grew out of the ground somewhere, and Melton could get it wholesale from the state farmers market and sell it, he did.
In a downtown Chester of landmarks such as the cannon and the courthouse, Big Apple Melton was the lone living landmark. From under the shade of pecan tree Melton sold watermelons and peanuts and peaches, tomatoes and corn and pole beans, and surely a million apples, almost every day for more years than anybody can remember.
The only day he didnt sell in good weather was Sunday.
He was a fixture in Chester, said his son, Eddie. Everybody knew him. He had regular customers for years and years.
But the Apple Man was also the guy who gave away so much to so many. He helped out people down on their luck,. He slipped people a few dollars. For those who had little or no money, credit came from the Apple Man.
He knew he would never get paid but he used to say that might be the only food that person might have, Eddie Melton said.