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The History of the Grier Pineapples

Keri Salyards
For decades, Grier Girls have set off on trips, walked to their classes, visited the barns, and patronized the coffee house, and every single time, they've waltzed right past what we all affectionately call "The Pineapples." 
As watchful guardians go, the pair of concrete pineapples that grace the end of Grier's long driveway seem like outsiders. We're in central Pennsylvania. It's beautiful, yes, but a tropical paradise it most certainly is not. Why in the world do pineapples guard the Grier gates?

The answer is far older than our school. Pineapples were originally grown on the islands of the Caribbean and have been delighting the European world since Spanish conquistadors brought the fruit back to Spain in the late 1400s. Its beautiful color and its sweet-tart punch of flavor quickly won over the nobility of the old world, who built elaborate custom greenhouses and spent truly extravagant amounts of money on coal to keep their budding treasures warm. A single pineapple could cost nearly $8,000 (in today's money) in resources and could take up to four years to grow!

The fruit truly found its stride on the dining room tables of colonial America. Hostesses would create elaborate tablescapes featuring mountains of fruit, porcelain figurines, and meat displays that would put any modern-day charcuterie table to shame. The pineapple was the star of this show, but not always in its natural glory. Because travel was so slow and ships from the Caribbean so humid and hot, fresh pineapples rotted easily, so it was much more common to find them as dried or candied treats. However, fresh pineapples were indicative of wealth and high social status and were intensely coveted, so much so that local merchants started pineapple rental services, allowing even the most humble of housewives to impress their guests with full, fresh pineapples. 

The use of such a rare and expensive treat on a dinner table display was a symbolic honor to your guests, showing them that you spared no expense for their entertainment. As this tradition continued, pineapples became a symbol of friendship, welcoming, and hospitality, and eventually, the image of a pineapple was adopted into art and architecture, used often in entrances to welcome new guests. The Pennsylvania Dutch famously incorporated them into many of their famous "hex" signs, solidifying the symbol as a truly American one. Thus, Grier's beloved pineapples, forever welcome our girls to their home in the hills. 
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Grier School

2522 Grier School Rd. | P.O. Box 308; Birmingham, PA 16686-0308
Phone: 814-684-3000 | Fax: 814-684-2177