Thursday, April 21, 2011


When I was a boy, I used to spend a week with my grandparents in Grandview twice a summer. Papa had a peach orchard of about 100 trees and several of them were mine. I had planted seeds from the peaches I had eaten years before, and now those trees bore fruit.

In the house there were jars filled with homemade peach preserves. They lined a very sizable pantry on the porch and shelves that ran along the stairway that led to the second floor. Papa had a huge cereal bowl that he filled with corn flakes every morning then topped with half a jar of peach preserves and milk. Then he would take a shot of Sunshine Prune Juice that came in a really cool looking green bottle. All the while during breakfast, the farm report would play from this ancient radio that sat next to the table. It seemed like there was but one weather report all summer long:
“Clear to partly cloudy and hot.”

People came by all the time to get some peaches, and anytime we went anywhere in the car we took peaches with us to give away. I think maybe Papa knew just about everyone from Itasca to Rio Vista. You know, Papa had all those peach trees, but I do declare that he never sold peach one.

Besides the orchard, Papa had a huge garden. It wasn’t quite a farm, though it seemed that way to me when I was a boy. He and Grandma grew most of the food they ate. There was always just a little too much okra and squash on the table for my taste, but what I wouldn’t give now for some of those black-eyed peas!

For Papa, the highlight of those summer visits was at the end of the week. On Saturday, before I left for home, he would take me downtown and get my hair cut. Back then, it was called a buzz-cut and left every hair in your head about quarter-inch long. Then the barber would splash some sweet-smelling rose water or tonic or something on you and remove the cover that protected you from all the hair that had been shaved from your head. He took a brush to any remnants off your shoulders. When you ran your hand across your head, it felt funny and gave you a chill up the back of your neck. Sometimes I thought my head resembled a peach after that haircut.

The whole time, Papa would be talking with all his buddies, so proud of the young man and the haircut taking place. As you stepped from the chair, the ol’ timers would tell Papa what a good looking young man he had there. The barber shop on Saturdays was the meeting spot for Papa’s buddies — the same buddies who always had two tables of dominoes going in Papa’s barn with a cloud of tobacco smoke and gentle smell of whiskey in the air.

One year, I think it was right after seventh grade and Kent State, when it came the last day at Papa’s at the end of the summer, he asked if I was ready to go downtown for my haircut. I remember looking up at him and saying:
“You know Papa, I’ve been thinking. I might want to let my hair grow out a bit.”

I’ll never forget the look on his face. You would have thought I’d cut his heart out.
I’ve been thinking all these years that Papa had that look on his face because he didn’t like long hair. But now that I’m older, I think maybe he had that look because he was going to need a new excuse to go downtown on Saturdays.

This was first published as a post titled "PEACH FUZZ" a few years ago. It is my second story to run in the Alvarado Star Newspaper. They titled it "Summer visits meant peaches and haircuts" which I am not really wild about, but it is assumed they know what they are doing.


njamobile said...

Another wonderful story, Steve. Now I'm missing my own grand parents!

bulletholes said...

Thanks Ninja! Thanks for stoppin'

Bulletholes said...

alternate ending:
"I dont know grandpa" I said "I thinking about letting it grow out"
Man, the look on his face. It was like I stabbed him in the heart.
So I went anyway... but the die, it was cast.