The Peanut Patch
submitted by Jean Butterworth
Dad planted peanuts every year on our farm in Tuscaloosa County. When I was very young an incident happened that I would never forget. When the peanuts matured in the fall they were pulled up and stacked around posts to dry.
On a cold Saturday morning, the family began to pick the peanuts off the vines stacked around a post. I went over after the peanuts were removed from a post and started moving the post in a circular motion, just something to do. I looked down and noticed a snakehead between my feet looking up at me! I gave a yell and took off as fast as I could across the peanut patch, and yet to be dug sweet potato patch.
I received some odd look from my family members. I explained what I had seen, but they looked and saw no snake. No one believed me. My Dad used a hoe to dig around the post and low and behold a copper head snake rolled out. My mother made a loud cry as dad killed the snake and then we resumed picking off the peanuts from the vines.
Peanuts are delicious when placed in a wood-burning oven to roast. Mother would peek in the oven often and pick out one to test for just the right taste. Later, we would put the roasted peanuts in individual brown paper bags and save to eat at the Friday night high school foot ball games. Of course, we would share with our friends. The remaining peanuts, raw or roasted would be packaged and sold at the curb market in town.
My family preferred roasted over boil peanuts, but some families really do like boiled peanuts. I always notice the hand made signs on the road to the beach advertising, “Boiled Peanuts.”
Another trick to enjoying peanuts, if you didn’t have home grown peanuts, was to stop at the local service station and buy a small pack of salted peanuts and pour them into a cold glass bottle of Coke Cola from the drink box cooler. This combination was delicious! Try it sometimes.
Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth
Love this article, Mr. Champion! It brings me back to simpler times. Growing my first peanuts this coming summer. Thank you for sharing.
When I was growing up our dad planted a big garden, including peanuts. When he was digging them up I walked behind and ate my fill of those fresh, green peanuts. I can taste them now, in my mind.
I too remember well those days that left sweet memories … peanuts, watermelons, etc. Her story reminds me of one of my own. As the only girl, and young at that, one duty I could handle was to go down to the “chicken house” and gather the eggs. One morning, I noticed when entering same that the chickens were just softly clucking instead of their usual boisterous greeting. Looking up at the roost, there was what looked to me to be the biggest snake in the world … wrapped around the roost poles and slowly “gathering” the eggs into his ugly mouth/body, while crushing them in the “wrap”. I too screamed and ran all the way up to the house. Mom went down and also witnessed this monster and sent me to get my older brother who was chopping cotton along with a hired hand. My brother got his rifle and with the farmhand’s hoe assistance, shot the snake, afterward stretching him out straight in the back yard. My six-foot brother lay down alongside him, and the snake won the length contest! Never have liked snakes!!