This may have been the Pinnacle Packing house where the pear was packed that gave Baby Medford his name. - Bill Miller

Naming baby Medford

Feldman's mama might have said, "Life is like a box of pears. You never know what you're gonna get until you get one unwrapped."

Mrs. Feldman never said whether those Rogue Valley pears were Bartletts, D'Anjous or Comice, but she certainly found them tasty.

"Your wonderful present of the delicious case of pears will be long remembered and never forgotten," she wrote. "It has been practically our only topic of conversation for days."

Writing to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce from a Chicago Hospital in December 1935, Mrs. Feldman had just become the proud mother of a baby boy she named Medford.

The Feldmans had no connection to Southern Oregon, except for a cousin who was working somewhere in the Medford District of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but that's not what prompted the baby's unusual first name.

The cousin had written home telling of the "wonderful pears that grew on the camp's grounds," and he sent them a box of fruit, ordered from the Pinnacle Packing house, then owned by Guy Conner.

At the time, each pear shipped out of Medford was wrapped in a paper that was stamped with a company name and an offer of a free recipe book if the recipient returned the wrapper to the local chamber.

Mrs. Feldman's sister, Marion Gordon, brought the "Guy Conner Brand" pears to the Chicago hospital just before the Feldman's baby was born.

"We did not notice that the wrappers were on the pears," Gordon said, "but when the baby came, the first name chosen for him was Medford. We were surprised to hear that."

It's not unusual for a parent to look for a unique name for their child, and perhaps that's why Mrs. Feldman eliminated Guy or Conner, and instead chose Medford, but she never said.

Back in Medford, Conner was nearly speechless.

"My gosh," he said. "I've shipped pears all over the world and I've had responses from Calcutta to Liverpool, but nothing like this. This tops them all."

Conner shipped another wooden case of pears to Chicago, this one free and especially for the baby, Medford Donald Feldman.

"Your kindness and generosity toward my son, Medford," wrote Mrs. Feldman, "who, I know, will never regret and will forever appreciate being named after your very beautiful city, are beyond words of thanks and gratitude.

"It is very heartwarming to know that my son, when only 2 weeks old, was already internationally known. Our thanks to such a fine body of men and to such a fine pear grower as Mr. Guy Conner."

She promised to send one of the first photographs of baby Medford to Conner, and then added, "Should we ever go West for a trip, our first stop will be your picturesque town."

Whether the photograph or the Feldmans ever came West, or how Medford Feldman felt about his name, isn't known.

When he grew up he moved to Arizona, where he married and had three children. He died in November 2000 in Tucson at age 64, and that's all we know. Attempts to reach relatives have so far been unsuccessful.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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