K A T I E   H O L M E S :
The Girl Next Door

Tom Cruise and family visit farm

The Salem News
By Matthew K. Roy

PEABODY — He had them at "hello."

Michelle Melanson Conroy and Berta Reddy, two employees of the city-run Brooksby Farm, were still buzzing yesterday about their encounter Sunday with Tom Cruise. The A-list movie star stopped by the farm with his famous wife, Katie Holmes, and daughter, Suri.

"I walked in, and there he was at the register," Conroy said.

The surprise cameo came around 3 p.m. The Cruise family shopped in the farm store, perused the pumpkin patch and, at Conroy's suggestion, hopped on a hayride.

"He was so nice," Conroy said. "He smiled the entire time. He was just wicked friendly."

The visit lasted about an hour. Two bodyguards accompanied the family.

"He fit right into the crowd until people started noticing him," Reddy said. Then out came the cell phone cameras.

Cruise bought four bags of apples, maple syrup, pancake mix, fudge, cider and doughnuts, Conroy said. Before he left, he paused to sign a few autographs and pose for pictures.

One of those pictures, laminated and proudly displayed on the farm store's front door yesterday, was of Cruise with Conroy on one arm and Reddy on the other.

"He's just as handsome in person as he is (in the movies)" Reddy said. She loved him in "Risky Business" and "Top Gun." Conroy is partial to "Jerry Maguire" and "Tropic Thunder."

Cruise is in the Boston area filming a movie. No one could say how he heard about Brooksby Farm. But farm manager Patrick Kriksceonaitis had a theory:

"Our apples are known around the world."