Thursday, June 22, 2006

Peaches

Butch Class of 60: We used to live about a block from the Peach Shed down on South Rosser. Every summer, the perfume of peaches filled the air. Night and day, they worked on those peaches. Peaches everywhere. You could see and smell the squashed peaches that fermented in the summer heat. Never did like peaches very much after that.

After WWII was over and all the soldiers came home, my Dad returned to a town that had changed a lot. While he was "overseas" for 28 months, my mother, my big brother, Charles and I lived with my grandfather, Henry Bernard and his wife and sister-in-law in Helena, Arkansas. So, when Dad got back, we didn't have a place to live in FC. He ran into Newman Stewart (remember 8th grade English teacher, Opal Stewart?) at Vacarro-Grobmeyer Lumber Co. and asked him if he knew of a place he could rent. Newman had an idea and they made an arrangement to divide the Stewart home down the middle and make a duplex out of it. Newman was a farmer and lived on his farm west of town, right off Highway 70, just past the Brown Bomber juke joint. We lived on one side and the Stewarts lived in the other. (I always called Mrs. Stewart, Miss Sopal. By the way, Miss Sopal still lives in that same house.)

Our side of the house didn't have an indoor "convenience," so we used an outhouse out next to the chicken house. Dad and Mr. Newman also rigged up a GI shower because we had been using a #3 washtub for bathing. The partially filled 55 gallon water drum made the whole thing collapse while Charles was standing under it observing. The drum hit ol' Charles a glancing blow to the head. Put a dent in that drum, too. He mostly recovered, but I still think he acts a little strange at times.

I "celebrated" my fourth birthday in that house. When Charles started to school, I didn't have anybody to play with. My only neighborhood friends lived down the road on Honeysuckle Lane. Their names were Lennon and Junior. For reasons that were not revealed to me, my mother would get upset when I tried to play with those kids, but that's another story. A year or so later, we moved to town into a real duplex owned by the Carltons on South Rosser. Actually, it was an apartment on one side of a larger house where the Carltons lived. This one had a convenience indoors. Our neighbors on one side were Mr. and Mrs. Max. Berlotzky (sp?).

What a great neighborhood! There were kids all over the place. Randy Dalton, Ronnie Peevey, Rhesa Davis, Bubba Stratton, Charley Haywood, Tommy and James Earl Ferguson lived down the street for a little while. There were others, but I can't remember their names. We lived in this house when I started to school in 1948.

But, I digress. Back to the Peach Shed. As a first and second grader, I never fully appreciated the scope of that peach processing operation and financial impact it had on the area. All I knew was that, from a short block away, with the windows open all the time in our little half-a-house, you could hear them working all night and smell those peaches.

Funny thing, what I remember most about the building was the Frozen Food Locker. It was in a kind of sub-basement on the north end of the building. You could actually rent space in the facility to store frozen stuff and retreive it from your personal "locker" when you needed it. Apparently, home freezers weren't on the market then. I don't think refrigerators were very common either. I believe we had one and I think it had a cooling coil on top.

To us kids, the best thing about the Frozen Food Locker was that they sold Popsicles. For a nickel, you could get a Popsicle; grape, cherry, orange, banana, root beer, but no peach flavor. Man! Those things were so good. One of the tricks we would try with our Popsicles was to suck all the flavor out and leave an almost white piece of ice on two sticks. Rhesa Davis was better at it than anyone. I usually ate mine before it got to that point anyway.


Paul Class of 68: Over the years I have noticed that it is very rare to see this kind of on-going sense of connection to people from other places and times. Maybe it WAS the peaches...
...two short memories. The first was my initial experience eating DELICIOUS homemade peach ice cream on a hot summer night at Billy Tucker's house (my best friend and neighbor at that time who moved to FL at age 9). The 2nd memory was of shaving the "peach fuzz" from my face with Bev Machen's electric razor - with much prodding and laughing from Jim. I think we were about 12 years old... BTW, I also remember eating lots of homemade peach ice cream at Jim's house over the years.

B.J Class of 68.: I remember the town being surrounded by peach orchards. I also remember going to one of them where we picked our own peaches and I ate one without even washing it. That was probably before DDT was banned, too. I'm sure I'll pay for that someday. I also remember Billy Tucker. He sat behind me in third grade. Since I was an R (Rowland) and he was a T (Tucker), we were at the back of the classroom. One day Billy brought his army men to school and during class had them all out on his desk. I was turned around sideways in my desk, and we were playing army. Just about the time he mowed all the men down with a sweep of his hand and an appropriate machine gun sound, we noticed our teacher's legs. She was standing there staring down at us with her hands on her hips. I think her name was Miss Land. She had to have been the nicest teacher who ever lived. She suddenly cracked up. I can't remember being punished. I don't think we were. I think she just told Billy to put the men away and don't get them out again. Today we would have been diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin. That was also the year everyone but me had a half heart necklace from a boyfriend. My best friends Gigi and E. each had three, which seemed rather gluttonous. I think one of Gigi's was from Billy Tucker.

Your turn: Email
ForrestCityMemories@Yahoo.com.

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