Skip to content

Peach Summary

August 19, 2015

 

Peach Summary

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

‘Tis the season of peaches! Somewhere in my collection of postcards, I have a small postcard of “the Big Peach”–a twenty-foot tall peach which is a well-known landmark in Indiana. Built in 1954 at the entrance of the Big Peach Farm in Bruceville (seven miles north of Vincennes, on US Highway 41) by Wilbur and Doris Yates, the Big Peach still welcomes visitors to Big Peach Farm. As a child, I was fascinated by this huge peach, the symbol of one of my favorite fruits.

 

Besides the Big Peach landmark, peaches remind me of Louis Braille, my two grandmothers, my sister, and another “grandmotherly” friend.

 

At one point in the early 1980s, I did not just read; but I absorbed the biography louis Braille: Windows for the blind (copyright 1951), by J. Alvin Kugelmass. One of the stories which I clearly recall from this book was during an unusual period in Louis Braille’s life–a time when he temporarily left the school for blind children in Paris, France. After working for a grocer during the day, at night, young Louis was permitted to eat the leftover fruit. Specifically, peaches, past their prime of flavor, were the young boy’s nourishment. Ever since reading that passage by Kugelmass, whenever I bight into a peach that is a little mushy, I think of Louis Braille, the brilliant student who, at age 15, invented the tactile alphabet that we call braille, in his honor. (Of course, a more recent and more definitive biography of Louis Braille is Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius, copyright 2006, by C. Michael Mellor.)

 

While I select relatively big peaches at the supermarket and then wonder if the hard fruit will ripen well to be sweet, juicy, nutritious treats, I think of the peaches of my childhood. I do associate peaches with both of my grandmothers–but in quite different ways. For obvious reasons, my maternal grandmother Domenica was always called “Grandma Store”; and my paternal grandmother Liza was forever “grandma Farm.” Despite being two quite different ladies from Levone, Italy, they held a special bond with one another–especially during their early years of settling in the United States. Born in 1883, my Grandma Store became quite a businesswoman; born in 1892, Grandma Farm was an extremely hard-working farm wife. Both women had long lives: my maternal grandmother lived to just past her 95th birthday while my paternal grandmother lived to nearly 96years of age. When I was young, Grandma Store was not much interested in cooking. I vividly recall her sitting alone at her big round table and too often eating only a ham sandwich with a small dish of canned peaches. Of course, the canned peaches were the Farmer’s Pride brand from the grocery store which she and her son operated for many years, after the death of my maternal grandfather in 1935.

 

In contrast to my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother cooked full meals for herself and for others until a little past her 90th birthday. I happily remember the four peach trees that lined the big garden on my grandparents’ farm. Those fruit trees produced a smaller variety of peach, but what delicious memories I have of those peaches! Although my Grandma Farm was known for her fruit pies, I quite fondly recall the glass jars of her own home-canned peaches. In a rich, sweet juice, how special those home-canned peaches were!

 

My Aunt Kathy, the youngest child of my paternal grandparents, recently confirmed for me that on the farm in Klondyke, Indiana, besides the peach trees, were six apple trees on the way to the barn. An apricot tree grew near the peach trees. In the chicken yard were two plum and two cherry trees. In the large grape arbor was a pear tree. Each fruitful season, my grandma made grape jelly and peach jam. With some pride, I know that my Grandma Farm made bread and jelly or bread and jam sandwiches to give to little neighborhood children who did not have enough to eat during the Depression. Those peaches were put to very good and tasty use.

 

Thanks to my only sister’s moving to Colorado in 1975, I learned that the best-tasting peaches of recent decades are the Palisade peaches of Colorado’s western slope. These large, juicy, and delicious peaches from Palisade (near Grand Junction) certainly deserve a blue ribbon, according to my taste buds.

 

Finally, to pull together all of my peach tales, I will mention one more fine lady from a Hoosier farm–Mrs. Lois Wimsett.   In the early 1980s, when I was doing some volunteer work as an instructor of braille, I was delighted to meet, teach, and become acquainted with Mrs. Wimsett. This inspiring and gracious farm wife was a “peach” of a person; consequently, her grandchildren called her “Peach.” Then, her great-grandchildren called her “Grandma Peach.” Through teaching her braille, I learned that she had kept in books, notes about the cute and special things which all of her grandchildren had done over many years. Coincidentally, my sister, in the land of the best peaches, also keeps memory books about her grandchildren.

 

Well, at the end of my peachy recollections, are you ready for an Indiana, a Michigan, a Georgia, or a Colorado peach?

 

Happy Peach Season!

Alice and Zoe

 

August 19, 2015, Wednesday

 

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

5 Comments
  1. Alice, I like the way you weave Louis Braille and your grandmothers into this story. My late husband Bill loved peaches. I like them canned but have never figured out how to eat them fresh.

  2. Hi Alice. What a peach of a post! I love digging through a can of cling peaches in their natural juices. We try to purchase these tasty delights of Mother Nature whenever they come into season. I love all fruits, but always found a soft spot for the mighty peaches. Thanks for another fresh picked, wordful delight. dp

  3. I enjoyed this piece so much on an August rainy day in PA. It took me back to when all my children were home and how we purchased bushels of peaches from a local farmer. then we began making them into jars of peaches for our canning cupboard, frozen peach slices in syrup for winter eating, and frozen peach pies to eat in the winter time. I loved to can and freeze our food, and the children all helped with it – we spent many days of summer and fall on the patio preparing the veggies and fruits for our winter treats. Thanks for evoking good memories from the past.

    My own best memory of eating a peach was one I bought at a market in Salzburg on a very hot July day. The peaches – and most fruits- in Austria come from Israel. That peach was so juicy it ran down my hand and arm as I at it – and I have never tasted anything that can compare with that one peach.

    When our daughter Ilsa Hoelz, lived in Georgia, she was always our “Georgia Peach” until she moved to Kentucky and now she is our “Blue Moon of Kentuck Girl.” Lynda

  4. Alice, you were probably too young to remember the four or five peach trees that grew along the fence on the west side of our house between the garage and the woods. As I recall, the trees were not particularly healthy or very productive until one summer when they produced a bumper crop of juicy peaches. Mother and Dad were very busy picking the peaches at their peak of ripeness to can them. I don’t think the trees ever produced peaches again after that year, so Dad eventually cut them down. But what a treat our peaches were–especially baked into one of Mother’s delicious pies!

    I have been enjoying the scrumptious Palisade peaches every day for the past two weeks. Fortunately, these beautiful peaches are available at a nearby Farmer’s Market. This weekend I am planning to bake a fresh peach pie–wish you were close enough to come for dessert!
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks for writing an additional peach tale for my “Peach Summary.” Besides Mother’s excellent pies, I always enjoyed her peach cobbler and peach coffee-cake. Enjoy the Palisade peaches! A & Z

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: