You may have seen the bright red truck in front of Foust Building, filled with homegrown vegetables. You may have heard of the “tomato man.” But do you know who he is?
Dr. Loren Schweninger was buying two large bags of tomatoes very early on July 1, when he recalled that he has been a mystery man to many on campus throughout the years. “It was mysterious who he was,” he recalled, even decades ago. “The assistant editor [on a history project] went over to Forney to get print outs on a mainframe computer.” She mentioned something about the tomatoes, in Forney Building. The tomato man was pointed out to her. There he was: Carl Morgan.
It works on the honor system. Prices are posted. Two scales are provided. Schweninger says you don’t see Morgan very often, at his truck. But Schweninger loves the tomatoes. He says he eats them for breakfast [a few slices], lunch [sandwich] and dinner [in salad].
Dareck Beasley, assistant lead person in Housekeeping, walks by and gets canteloupes and tomatoes, weighs them, and places money in the box.
Dr. Frank Melton, who taught history “for 53 happy years” before retiring last year, gets a bunch and pays. Melton knows him, but “he’s not here often,” Melton says.
Other faculty and staff members come and go. Two men stop by. Are you Carl Morgan? No, it’s Glenn Aldridge, who worked in ITS with Carl Morgan for nearly 30 years and retired last year. He nods toward the other man. That’s Carl.
Carl Morgan introduces himself. He joined the UNCG ITS department in 1967, and retired after 37 years. His 37 years were in one room. 109 Forney. Over the years, he would bring tomatoes for co-workers, and demand grew. Eventually, he would leave the vegetables in his truck, and he became well-known for his tomatoes. At his retirement party, he had one request: lots of tomatoes. He wanted BLTs.
Carl Morgan fields questions, after pulling more of his produce to a spot where people could easily reach it.
- Where does he grow the vegetables? In Rowan County where he lives, near Salisbury.
- When is he on campus in the summer? On Tuesday and Fridays, 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. [or until they’re all gone]
- Where can his truck be found? Outside Foust Building.
- When does he leave home in the morning? By 4:30 a.m.
- Why do it? “I’m not in it for the money. Never have.” [Schweninger had speculated if he could break even, with the cost of gas.] He mentions the opportunity to stay in contact with old friends – “lots of friends.”
- What does he do on hot days between 7 and 2? He says “Hi “to friends he’d worked with throughout campus, he reads in Jackson Library, etc.
- What about his vehicle? It’s a 1988 F-150, which he’s had since 1990. He painted it tomato red last fall, he says. Before that, he brought vegetables in an old green truck, which he would park in front of Forney Building in the 1980s, using the honor system. In the 1970s, he could be seen with bunches of vegetables in his blue Volkswagen.
- Aside from farming? Morgan’s softball team won a doubleheader recently. He plays different positions. “Last game I was catcher. I have played third base, shortstop, first base, right center and right field.” One game, he played short fielder.
As he speaks near his truck, almost every visitor speaks to him. Aldridge says, “He’s doing everyone a favor,” offering fresh vegetables on the honor system year after year.
And how long into the year does he come to campus? Morgan says last year, the tomato crop lasted a long time. His final visit last season was Nov. 18.