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When life gives you lemons, grow a beard

Frank Meyer in Chinese Turkestan, ca. 1910 (ARC 5729274; 54-FS-5624)

Today’s picture is featured in our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which opens today!

I am guessing it was not a hot day in Chinese Turkestan when this picture was taken, since today’s featured man is sporting a full beard, a high furry hat, a fur-lined coat, and boots.

Did I mention it’s nearly 100° F here in Washington, DC? That the facade of the National Archives building shimmers like a mirage, one with a cool, dark Rotunda with documents kept at a careful 64° for preservation?

But I digress. Heat is addling my brain.

Actually, the man in this picture is responsible for making people enjoy the summer more, especially if you love juicy apricots or sweet Meyer lemons. His name was Frank N. Meyer, and he was an “agricultural explorer” in the early 20th century.

Originally from the Netherlands, Meyer began working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1901. But he did not stay in the United States for very long. In 1905 he headed off to explore Asia, and later Russia and Europe.

His adventuring days were cut tragically short. In 1918 on his way to Shanghai, he fell overboard into the Yangtze River and drowned. According to the USDA, “His body was recovered, but the circumstances of his death will always remain a mystery and source of speculation.”

Meyer’s life, though short, has had a long influence. He brought back thousands of specimans, including the lemons later named for him, apricots, soybeans, and gingko biloba.

Let’s raise a tall, cool glass of Meyer lemonade to the memory of Frank Meyer, bearded explorer!

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Comments

Comment from Jenny
Time June 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

Might he gave been an Orthodox Jew? Or just getting in touch w/ his Jewish roots? Some married Hassidic men wear a type of fur hat. Not quite like the eye-catcher Meyer’s sporting. :)

As for a toast to Meyer lemonade, regardless of his religion, l’chaim!

Comment from nebulous
Time June 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

The National Archives have by this series partially redeemed the US govt. in the eyes of this pogonotropher. Front page sweetbeard.com material.