By Peggy Sims
I was always so excited for summer break to come about because that meant that I could begin my visits to my cousin’s houses out in the country. I loved to spend several days with my aunt and uncle and three cousins in the Hebron community. I would always go during their revival time and we would go every night.
It was always during the hottest part of summer and of course no air conditioning but again we had those “funeral home” fans to keep the hot air moving. Brother Mickey Armstrong was the home preacher at Hebron Baptist Church and I was an ardent admirer. I had really hit the excite button one year. I was present for his and Carolyn’s wedding. As a young adolescent this was so idealistic to my way of romantic notions.
We always had a good time visiting with all my other cousins and playing in among the old tombstones. All my relatives are buried there coming from my mother’s Gibson side.
The aunt and uncle I always wanted to visit had this incredible little house built in their backyard. To look at it from the front, it was just a small rectangular roofed one room house sitting in among some trees. It seemed to always be in the shade, even during the sunniest and hottest part of the day.
Inside was somewhat of a storage room with all kinds of canned fruits, vegetables, soups, pickles, or anything else you might want to enjoy. But, there were also stairs that led down into the ground, and this is what just amazed me. Down, underground, had been dug out in order to store things that needed to be kept at a cooler temperature.
Those of you who lived back in those days realize nobody I knew had a frost free Viking or an electric ice maker. The “ice truck” would make a run by the country houses once or twice a week and deliver a big block of ice. The ice would usually be kept wrapped in a burlap bag, or as my grandmother said, “a tote sack”. Then it would be covered in sawdust. If you did not own an ice box, insulated but no electricity, you would keep it in an underground place wrapped and stored this way to keep the ice from drastically melting.
The weather was extremely hot, just like today, and there was no running inside to get cooled by the air conditioner when we became so hot we had to cool down or literally melt. That’s when we would go inside this little house with the cool underground room and cool off for awhile.
My Aunt Doris would always make the best pickled peaches. These were eaten with vegetables or just as dessert. Personally, I just liked to eat them anytime.
I haven’t been to the old homestead in many years, but I would just bet you the little underground room is still there and I know it holds my memories.
Spiced Pickles Peaches
4 cups of sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup of water
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
4 pounds fresh peeled peaches
Combine sugar, vinegar, water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Push at least 2 cloves into each peach and drop into boiling syrup. Boil for 20 minutes. Spoon into sterile jars along with one cinnamon stick. Seal and process for 10 minutes.