Actually, very few of us have pear trees in the yard anymore, or have friends who offer us bushels of pears toward late summer and fall. The Bradford Pear—a hybrid of a European pear (Pyrus communis) and an Asian one (P calleryana)—is being used by landscapers, but only for the flowers. The fruit is about the size of your thumb.
Back in an '04 article Leon and I discussed and argued about the pear breeding craze among French and Belgian estate owners back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It reminded me of the "tulip craze," when wealthy people were competing to find the "just right" plant. Even the great Charlemagne had pear orchards. The process used back then was what we now call "mass selection" rather than plant breeding. They would select a few trees that produced acceptable fruit, collect thousands of seeds, and hope to get a few better trees. The art and science of genetics was a thing of the future, but they had a good understanding of plant propagation by rooting cuttings or by grafting onto a rootstock.