Brunswick pair spends Fourth of July in summer ritual with produce stand

Friday, July 4, 2014 | 4:09 p.m. CDT; updated 8:10 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2014
Alvis "Frisky" Clark and Wilma Clark sit outside their produce stand on Range Line Street with 50 dozen ears of corn and two boxes full of cucumbers and zucchini Friday. The Clarks travel from Brunswick three times a week to sell produce.

COLUMBIA — On a day when many people attend holiday picnics, barbecues and swim parties, veteran Alvis "Frisky" Clark was having a grand time Friday selling produce out of his 2003 Silverado Chevrolet.

"I've got a nerve problem because of the Korean War," Clark, 87, said. "I can’t stand the house, so I've got to have something to do."

Clark and his ex-wife, Wilma, have established themselves outside Carroll Tire Co. in the 3300 block of Range Line Street for the past decade. During the summer, they travel to Columbia three times a week from Brunswick, north of Marshall in Chariton County.

They chose Friday to start selling produce for the first time this season — but forgot it was the Fourth of July. "I didn’t even know it was a holiday," Wilma Clark said.

They brought 50 dozen ears of sweet corn, along with two boxes full of cucumbers and zucchini.

The Clarks get most of their produce from King Hill Farms in Brunswick, but they grow their own green beans and have about 4,000 tomato plants. The two plan to start selling watermelon, cantaloupe and onions soon.

Frisky Clark said that because conditions have been relatively cool and dry, he has resorted to hauling water to keep the crops alive. To grow the best produce they can, he and Wilma spend a little extra money to buy the best seed.

"We tell all our customers they can trust us," she said.

Yordanos Ghiday, a regular customer for the past five years, pulled over to buy some sweet corn for the holiday. "It's good and tastes fresh," Ghiday said.

As a teenager, Frisky Clark also served in World War II. He seldom shares war stories, preferring to crack jokes with their regular and first-time visitors.

"If he doesn't kid, then you know he's sick," Wilma Clark said.

She also enjoys building relationships with the regulars and chatting with newcomers.

"I'd rather talk then sell," she said, laughing gently. "We're in it to meet the people — we're people-people."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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