Selma resident Clarence Strong looks over a basket of fresh tomatoes while waiting for customers Monday morning near his truck, which he parked along Water Avenue. Strong has been selling his homegrown fruits and vegetables at the shaded location for at least three decades. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)
Selma resident Clarence Strong looks over a basket of fresh tomatoes while waiting for customers Monday morning near his truck, which he parked along Water Avenue. Strong has been selling his homegrown fruits and vegetables at the shaded location for at least three decades. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Strong has spent decades serving his roadside customers

Published 7:20pm Monday, August 4, 2014

After more than three decades in business, Clarence Strong knows what it takes to make his operation successful; fresh produce, good batteries for his radio and shade from the summer sun. Strong has become a part of the landscape over the years.

He has been selling fruits and vegetables from the bed of his 1978 GMC Sierra from under a chinaberry tree near the railroad tracks on Water Avenue for as long as he can remember.

“I stay here in the same spot,” Strong said. “And if I’m not here, people know they can come by and find me at the house.” On Monday, Strong spent much of the day waiting for customers on a folding chair set up near the back of his truck.

Before him, two tables were covered in baskets of onions, okra, tomatoes and peas. Beside him, his truck bed was full of watermelons, which just like the other produce, were all grown in the garden behind his Carver Avenue home.

“The easy part is sitting here,” Strong said. “The other part is hard work. Planting the seeds and pushing the plows, that’s hard, hard work.”

Strong said his constant presence in the shade across the street from the old Dallas Compress building — where he worked for 30 years — has helped him build relationships with his constant customers.

“I see the same people today that I’ve been seeing for years,” Strong said. “I like being able to do this everyday. I want to be doing this until I can’t.” While his work has its constants — the traffic, the radio and shade — Strong said every day is different at the office.

“Sometimes I’m running around like crazy and other days there nobody is stopping by,” Strong said. “And some days the watermelons are the big sellers, but today it’s been the tomatoes.”

Strong said he enjoys the fact people come to his house when he’s not out on Water Avenue. “I’ve been doing this so long that people know me,” Strong said. “I’ll have people stopping by my house in the wintertime to pick fresh greens right up out of the ground. I guess I’m doing something right if they are still coming out.”

Selma resident Asa Marshall has purchased produce from Strong for years, and Monday Marshall returned to pick up a watermelon to take home and enjoy with his wife.

“I’m out here every chance I get,” Marshall said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper and fresher out here than up at the store. I’ll get this watermelon home today, get it cold, and me and the old lady will just eat it up.”

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