'The Watermelon Man' continues a decades-old family legacy in Southwest Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Elijah Carter is known as the "Watermelon Man," selling the fruits of his labors on the corner of 84th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard in Southwest Philadelphia.

But it turns out there's a whole family behind the operation. You might call Elijah and his brothers the "Watermelon Men."

"Thirty-five years ago, we came out here, Elijah and I, and we started the watermelon business," said brother Joshua Carter Sr. "For 35 years he's been situated in this area right here, in the Eastwick section."

Along with Elijah and Joshua, brothers David and Aaron Carter Sr. also help out with operation needs during the week.

The Carters carry on a family legacy that began with their father, Dover V. Carter, former NAACP President in the 1940s in Montgomery County, Georgia.

Courtesy: Buried Truths Podcast - (Father) Dover V. Carter former NAACP President in Montgomery County, Georgia.

Feeling that it was best to move his family of 10 children to Philadelphia amid tensions related to voting rights, Dover Carter began the watermelon business in the city's Mantua section. He ran that business for 41 years.

"Our father taught us the values of hard labor and working. And taught us to be self-sufficient," said Carter. "We try to carry my father's legacy over by having our 'grans' or our children out here helping out."

Operating seven days a week, the Carter brothers have sold to customers who've traveled from Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and locally, all in support of their family's consistency.

"In times like these the way things are with the pandemic, small businesses are struggling. Many of them are going out of business," added Carter. "The reason why we were met with success, particularly this year, is because many of the people don't like going into the stores."

Carter's Watermelons in the city's Eastwick section.

Carter says many of their customers have continued to come out since it helps them avoid much contact at the supermarkets.

Also, providing a much smoother transition from when quarantined, to quicker access to their beloved fruit.

While the brothers are retired from the workforce, overall, Carter says they look to pass down this family business for many generations to come.

"We try and provide a qualitative product," he added. "The fact that we've been here 35 years speaks for itself.

Carter says after a person leaves, he knows they've sold them something they'll be pleased with.
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