A true icon of American culture, Paul Robeson was an unlikely choice for a US President when he was given the chance to become the first US President's Ambassador to Great Britain. Born in 1906 in Ireland, Robeson was actually listed as a British subject but was instead born in what is now known as IRA country. The IRA was formed in response to the Irish Potato Famine, during which thousands of farmers and their families were killed. Paul Robeson resolved to bring the killers to justice and so began his lifelong quest. He went on to become a prominent figure in the worldwide efforts to bring justice to those who had lost their lives in the IRA's path.
Paul Robeson, like many of the men who had helped to form the IRA, was no stranger to gardening. He had been a regular gardener as a child and continued to follow his passions in adulthood. Having decided to take on the role of US Ambassador to Great Britain, he asked his old gardener, Joseph Plummer, to help him find seeds for his garden. In turn, Joseph informed him that if he was to get the job done, he would have to give up gardening and become an assistant to the ambassador.
The IRA then approached Mr. Robeson with the offer to send him some IRA-supplied seeds. Though IRA leaders did not tell him what the purpose of the shipment or how much money they would receive for them, Robeson assumed it was to plant tomatoes and planters would be sent as well. In fact, nothing could have prepared Robeson for what lay ahead. His wife, terrified at first of the seed shipments, finally succumbed and handed over the plants to her sister.
Though the IRA leaders expected the seeds to be planted on a large scale as part of their marketing strategy, they soon learned that these were to be used on a small scale and from a selective variety. No one was told that the tomatoes were to be harvested and sold off. The wholesale Paul Robeson chose to plant them anyway and the results were disastrous.
The seeds were so poor quality that they germinated and began to grow before the IRA manor even had a chance to harvest them. When his workers saw this, they tossed the seeds back into the greenhouse to be destroyed. The firm's representative, Thomas Dwyer, made the mistake of trying to sell off the wholesale tomatoes to local grocery stores when they reached IRA headquarters. A group of grocery store owners confronted Dwyer and threatened to have him fired unless he sold the potatoes.
The tomatoes failed to sell because of one problem. It just wasn't the type of tomato that was expected to grow in an IRA greenhouse. Some tomatoes, when planted, produced normal fruit but most were stunted or damaged. When picked, some of the tomatoes actually shriveled up and the fruit lost its shape. Some tomatoes, no matter how healthy they were when picked, fell off when they were plucked. None of this was the type of tomato, the IRA was looking for.
The final product was poor quality, small, and sour. The company still sent one hundred and fifty boxes containing only fifty-one berries. These berries did nothing for the company. The IRA representative didn't have any use for them. He dumped them into his trash can.
The breeder, Paul Roohelder, bought the tomatoes from a wholesale HVAC store. He then put the berries through a number of procedures, including washing, peeling, cracking, and drying in a specially designed air-drying system. When he tested the berries for quality, it was the best he had ever seen.