I don't know where Frederick H. Howard was born. I don't know his family history or what happened to his descendants if he had any. What I do know is that there is an avenue named Howard now in Montebello, cutting north from Beverly Blvd across Lincoln, eventually dead-ending into a road named Jefferson, up near hills still dotted with bobbing bird-head oil wells. I do know, according to patents that are floating around, that he hybridized a variety of ornamental and food plants.
I also know that he developed and patented a plum that bears his name. According to David Karp's article, when Mr. Howard patented his plum tree, he claimed it was a cross between a European greengage and an Asian satsuma, a genetically improbably cross. Also according to Karp, Howard was likely incorrect, and mistook a Japanese green-fleshed plum to be a greengage. The dreamy part of me wants to believe Karp wrong, though the scientist part of me knows he's got to be right.
Here is the description of the tree found in Register of New Fruit and Nut Varieties: 1920-1950, by Reid M. Brooks and H. P. Elmo:
My young Howard Miracle plum gave me its second crop this year, a dozen fat, big-as-a-big-peach plums, fully flushed red with yellow flesh. Picked firm and unripe, this plum is painfully acidic and sour, but left to ripen on the tree until the flesh yields to pressure, this plum is remarkable. If you took honeysuckle and honey and ripe pineapple and another good plum, then blurred them together into a beautiful package, you might get something that tastes like a Howard Miracle. In my yard, it ripens now, mid-to-late July, after the peaches have finished up but before the Elephant Heart plums soften.
I've never seen this plum in a market, though I've read articles that refer to finding it in markets. In fact, I've never seen this plum anywhere other than on my tree, or in my hands, or on a plate, and on its way into my mouth.
Thank you Mr. Howard, for your miracle.