As I looked at images, I read about what kind of apples grew in central California, and discovered that most were two varietiesthe Yellow Newton Pippin and the Yellow Bellflower. As an apple lover, I was surprised to find out how many varieties of apples that Id never heard of were cultivated in the United States at the end of the 19th century. I found a description of the two varieties that the Pajaro Valley grew before I found an image of either. So I tried to imagine what they would look like from the descriptions, which went as follows:
Yellow Bellflowers (New Jersey) Very large, oblong, irregular, tapering toward the eye; smooth; lemon color, with blush stalk long and slender, in deep cavity; calyx closed, in rather narrow basin; flesh tender, juicy, crisp, with sprightly sub acid flavor; keep well into the winter; tree a strong grower and healthy; one of the universal favorites in California.
Yellow Newtown Pippins Large, roundish, oblate and oblique, more or less flattened; yellow with brownish red cheek; stalk very short; flesh firm, crisp, juicy, with very rich, high flavor. Generally considered the best winter apple in California.
Finding out that the Yellow Bellflower was one of the parents for the hybrid Red Delicious made imagining it a little easier, but I wasnt sure that my historical imagination was up to the task of making these descriptions into three dimensions. I finally hit on the idea of looking at fruit-crate labels to see the kinds of apples they put on the ones from Watsonville. I bought a couple on eBay, since they are a cheap and widely available collectible.