There it is, the old home place. Sitting at a curve of the dirt road up on the crest of the hill, waiting to catch the summer breeze before air conditioning was even thought about. Oh, what stories it could tell if it could talk!
The fourth generation now works the field that comes right up to the back porch. Going up and down those rows, you have plenty of time to think of stories told about times gone by. This one happened to my husband Fred, as a boy….
Grandpa and Grandma were the babysitters of choice growing up. Fred and his sister, Sandra, were not quite old enough to work in the field. While their parents and older brother were working, they spent their days at Grandpa’s house.
Today, Grandpa’s brother had come for a rare visit. The old-timers sat on the front porch, trying to catch a breeze, rocking and swapping stories. It was early summer, a great day to be alive!
Fred and Sandra decided to go play behind the house, over by the peach tree. Grandpa was especially fond of his peaches. He had repeatedly warned the grandkids to leave the green peaches alone so they can get ripe. Besides fighting birds and bugs and blight, he had to fight pesky grandchildren for his lovely peaches.
But now, with Grandpa busy talking to Uncle Will on the front porch, this would be the perfect time to sneak a peach. After all, kids like peaches, too. And who cares if they’re still a little green. Grandpa would never know if a couple went missing.
So, Fred and Sandra had just finished eating a big, hard green peach. They nonchalantly wandered back to the front porch, doing a little eavesdropping as they went. That’s when they heard Uncle Will say, “Walter, did you hear about the children who died from eating green peaches?” Two sets of ears perked straight up, and two hearts skipped a beat.
“No, I didn’t hear about that. You don’t say!” said Grandpa.
“Oh yeah, it was in our local paper, some young’uns died from eating green peaches,” Uncle Will said. “It sure was a terrible tragedy. But you know how those green peaches are.”
Fred and Sandra looked at each other in horror. Instantly, they didn’t feel well at all. In fact, there were huge knots in their stomachs. They ran through the screen door to Grandma for help. There in her usual place, lying on her bed, was Grandma. Except to cook, this was where she spent most of her time anymore, just resting. They crawled up in the bed with her and lay down across the end.
By this time, they were moaning, just knowing they were about to die. They felt their foreheads to see if they were feverish. They rolled and groaned. They got Grandma’s spit can from beside the bed because she came from the era of grandmas who dipped snuff. They hacked and spit, all to no avail. “We are dying, Grandma. Oh, we’re dying!” They hacked and spit harder.
All the while, Grandma just listened and watched. She had raised nine children of her own. This wasn’t her first rodeo; she was a very wise woman. She knew that Grandpa hoarded his bottled Cokes in the smokehouse. He loved those bottled Cokes even better than peaches and drank one at 10 and 4 every day. He was very precise about the time. If you were there with him, you got one, too. But if you were late, you missed that Coke for the day.
Fred and Sandra meanwhile are telling Grandma that today is the day they are going to die. They can just feel they are bound for the glory world beyond. They discuss how sad the funeral will be, while wiping their feverish brows with wet wash cloths. Grandma just listened, ’til finally she had heard enough.
“You know, I think I remember a cure for eating green peaches,” she said.
“You do!?! Oh, Grandma, do you? Tell us quick!!”
Grandma said, “If you sneak out there to the smokehouse and get one of Grandpa’s bottled Cokes and drink it all up, every last drop, then you will be cured. And you won’t die.”
Like a shot, out the back door they ran. Straight to the smokehouse, where they opened the weathered old door and grabbed the precious cure. Then back through the kitchen for the bottle opener, then back to Grandma. She helped them pop the caps off Grandpa’s hoarded Cokes. And sure enough…instantly they were cured!
Yes, Grandma was surely a very wise old woman.
— Janice Smith