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'Pinkie' helped keep family market going

April 24, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Margaret "Pinkie" Cronise Houpt, who died April 15 at the age of 82. Her obituary appeared in the April 17 edition of The Herald-Mail.

BOONSBORO - The youngest of 13 children, Margaret "Pinkie" Cronise Houpt was just 5 years old when her family opened E.E. Cronise Home Grown Mountain Fruit along Alternate U.S. 40 east of Boonsboro.

Until the day she died, Cronise Market - as it now is known - was a big part of Margaret Houpt's life, according to her youngest daughter, Bonnie, who with her husband, Cliff Pereschuk, now keep the 77-year-old business going.

Bonnie said there are two explanations for the nickname "Pinkie," which was assigned to Margaret early in life and stuck. One was a reference to her red hair, and the other, less-favored, possibility was because her mother wore pink a lot.


"Mom never had a real middle name," Bonnie said. But that only was because her parents just ran out of names after all of her brothers and sisters were born.

When Pinkie died on April 15 at the age of 82, she was the last survivor of that 12-sibling family. Their parents, Espy Eugene and Annie Cronise, had died long ago. Pinkie took care of her ailing mother, then her father until their deaths, Bonnie said.

"Mom was born in Funkstown, but her parents started building the house next door to the market here in Boonsboro in 1927," Bonnie said. The family moved into the house, which still is the homeplace, and began operating a little roadside stand next door a year later.

There were a number of greenhouses and a flower shop at the site then.

"Many of the original structures have been upgraded over the years or they would have fallen down," Bonnie said. "We have tried to keep it the same as much as possible or it would have changed too much."

During the busiest seasons, produce and flowers often were displayed for sale on the front porch of the house and everywhere in between the house and the market.

At first, the Cronise family grew its own produce on a 100-acre farm and orchard along Boonsboro Mountain Road, Bonnie said. As a young woman, Pinkie always was cooking for her large family and the hired hands who worked that land.

After the farm was sold, the produce for the stand was delivered by other growers for many years. Now, Bonnie said her husband and other family members have to go get it and bring it to the market.

"I started working here as soon as I could count," Bonnie said.

For the past seven or eight years, she and her husband have been running the market. Most of the employees are family - either Houpts or Pereschuks.

This past Easter, as Pinkie's health was failing, Bonnie said the family made sure she always was among flowers so she could enjoy them.

"Mom said she wanted to be at home and surrounded by family when she died, and she was," Bonnie said. Additional care was provided by hospice volunteers.

Memories of her mother's love of flowers, family, company and a good joke will keep Bonnie close to her. Bonnie said she won't grieve every time she comes through the door of the market.

"Not at all - to me, this place is Mom," she said.

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