It was in July 1992 when a group of European fruit journalists were invited to
stay in Florida, the then most important citrus producing state in the US. We
were on our way from the south of the peninsula very busy interviewing citrus
producers, scientists, traders and exporters. As a group of 12 people we were
riding a van on the way to the Citrus Research Institute at Lake Alfred close to
Orlando. At the crossroads of US 441 and Florida State Road 60 there were two
attractions, which our guide from the Florida Citrus commission was keen to show
us. The Desert Inn is a wellknown pub, which has a very frequent clientele:
cowboys. This tough guys, always somewhat rough in their behaviour, used to
visit the Desert Inn frequently after they had done their job of keeping voracious alligators away from the herd Sometimes the pubkeeper had to put in a new bar, as the cowboys had tried to fix it in another
direction. We visited the Desert Inn about midday. That’s why our guide deemed
it necessary to visit this place full of anecdotes as well as the building just
on the other side, the shop of a taxidermist. It was not entirely clear in which
connection these two enterprises were, however, there was a certain myth about
these, which was quite inspiring for a flock of journalists.
One of the European journalists was David Shapley, a tall man with the typical
attitude of a soldier, which in fact he was serving in many countries of the
world for Her Majesty’s army. At that time David was Editor of Fruit Trades
Journal (FTJ), the weekly paper for the fresh fruit trade. He was very good in
asking questions about „what would be“ or „how would you see the industry
in…?“ The format of FTJ did not allow him to go „epic“, but his contributions
to „his“ FTJ, lateron for „The Grocer“ and „Fruit World International“ were
always written with his profound knowledge of the trade. David, even when he was
embarrassed of what happened, never lost his contenance, always desperately
trying to understand both sides. At the The Guild of Writers, of which he was a
longstanding member, he had been in high esteem for his clearly marked opinion.
Now I learned today that David in the age of 77, has left us quite surprisingly.
In one of our last issues of Fruit World he published his views about the
„German invasion“ into the UK retail trade.
It was an honour for me to know this outstanding gentleman and to work with him.
Because as a soldier and a journalist he avoided the nebulous words like
„approximately“, „may be“, „could happen“, in any case explaining to readers
what the current situation was. This and other similarities made us good friends
and all I can say after these news is „I’ll miss him“.
Gerhard H. Breuer
Fruit World International