Jar of Peaches

on March 20, 2012 in Jar of Peaches, Southern Charm

“But Lawton, we want to do something that we are not supposed to do when Mama and PaPa are not here!” the others exclaimed in protest.

“No, put them back in the pantry where they belong,” urged Lawton, “Grace is right. Mama will know, and be upset if she doesn’t have peaches to make cobbler on Sunday.”

The younger brothers and sisters slowly conceded and gave up the peaches. It was hard raising a family – especially a large family during the Depression years. PaPa farmed and Mama raised prize winning Rhode Island Reds. Her egg money was the only cash crop except for harvest time. And it was a long time until the next harvest. The family bank was in the barn, pantry and egg money. The children learned how to get along, but once in a while, they were left on their own and wanted desperately to test their limits. Like all kids, they wanted to have fun.

Grace Truman Story

“Mama knows how many jars of peaches she has canned,” went on the eldest child, Grace. “She has enough saved up for when Uncle Ben and Uncle Charlie come by, and she’ll know if a jar is missing.”

Of course, Grace was right. The others stood back in obedience as Grace put the peaches away. “Now don’t fret so, you can think of something else to do. What else? Any suggestions?”

Several things were mentioned, but always overridden by Grace. Finally one of them suggested jumping off the balcony into the hallway. That could be tricky and Grace and Lawton studied it carefully. “Well, if we pad the floor below, maybe,” said Lawton. Grace disagreed and thought it too dangerous, but Lawton took the side of the younger children, this time it was eight against one.

“Yes,” said Lawton, “we could drag out a couple of mattresses and pillows – that’ll pad the landing.”

Off the children went running through the house gathering pillows, quilts and anything that would pad their jump. When a big pile was made, the children ran up the enclosed stairway to the opening in the upstairs hallway. There they hung over the rail studying the fall. Yes, everything was in order – all except for one thing. Who would go first? After some debate, Grace hesitantly stepped forward, after the others acknowledged she was firstborn and the decision maker. Again, it was eight against one.

Grace tied her dress between her legs, carefully mounted the rail, and she jumped. Grace landed square in the middle of the mattresses – feather mattresses that is – and made a loud thump as she hit the floor.

The eight children all hanging over the rail in fascination called out, “Grace – are you all right? Did it hurt? Was it fun?”

But for some reason Grace was slow to answer. Her back was to them and so they could not see her face. The truth be told, Grace had the breath knocked out of her. She did not want to show her pain – but every bone in her body ached. When she finally got herself together, she said very quietly, “I’m okay. It was fun. Come on Beau (Lawton’s nickname), it’s your turn. You’re the second born, you’re next.”

Lawton studied his sister and knew something was not exactly right. “Grace, are you all right? Sis, are you hurt?”

After a deep breath, Grace answered, “I’m fine—-now jump—-it’s your turn.”

When Lawton waited a long time to decide, some of the other children began to argue about who would jump next. The smaller kids, Caleb, Gene, Tom and Nancy wanted to jump, but Sarah said – “No, Beau is next and you little ones can’t jump, it’s too far for you. Only the big kids are jumping – today.”

With some grumbling from the smaller ones, Lawton agreed with Sarah. “If anyone jumps, it’ll be me. But I want to study Grace a little bit longer. I think she’s hurtin’.”

“Grace, are you hurtin’?” they all began to ask and take note of her slow movement.

“I’m not hurt. I tell you it was fun. You wanted to jump, now jump. Come on Beau, you’re next.”

“Jump Beau!” demanded Robert.

“See Beau, she’s okay, now jump!” the others coaxed.

“She doesn’t sound right. I think she’s hurt,” Lawton did not budge.

Robert had had enough, “I’ll jump next! I’m not afraid! Let’s get on with it.”

“No,” said Sarah who was as capable as any of the boys,” Robert, you’re fourth, I’m third. You’ll have to wait your turn. Beau goes next, and then me.”

“Grace and Sarah are right, Lawton goes next,” noted Miriam.

“Well, I’ve decided not to jump,” said Lawton, “Grace doesn’t sound right.”

“I’ll jump!” demanded Robert, “I’ve jumped out of trees higher up then this! I can go next!”

But the next eldest, Beau, said, “No, Robert, you are not jumping right now.”

So, who would jump next? Caleb and Gene argued with their older siblings- they were both ready to go. They rambunctiously tried giving each other a leg up – so they could reach the top of the rail. Tom never spoke a word, but kept a sharp eye on the situation. Baby Nancy was so disappointed, she could not help herself – she cried. Her heart was broken. After all she had run her little legs off dragging pillows for the pile. All the while Grace was quiet and slowly moved over to the bottom of the enclosed stairway and closed the door – and locked it. “Beau, it’s your turn.”

“Come on Beau! I’m gettin’ hungry!” demanded Robert.

All the children protested the locked door. Miriam the fifth children – the bridge between the older and younger children – quieted the others down as she appealed to Grace. “Now Grace, we’ve decided not to jump. And you need to unlock that door. And anyway, Sarah won’t let the little ones jump. And Baby Nancy is upset. So at least let them come down. Please open the door for the little ones, Grace.”

Miriam had struck a chord of reason with her eldest sister. “Miriam is right. I’m gonna unlock that door—in just a minute.” Then Grace disappeared into the kitchen. When she returned she had that jar of peaches. She opened the jar and then took her time eating them. She laid an extra spoon in front of her.

“Mmmm, mmmm, these peaches are really good.”

The others could not believe their eyes – as they hung over the rail – watching Grace eat those peaches.

“Grace, that’s Mama’s peaches!”

“You said we couldn’t eat ’em!”

“Grace, surely, you are not gonna eat the whole jar!”

“Save some for us!”

“Open that door!”

“What about when Uncle Ben and Uncle Charlie come over? How’s Mama gonna cook a peach cobbler for them?”

“Grace you’re gonna get in trouble, if you eat those peaches!”

“Come on! Let us down from here. Unlock that door!”

“I thought you agreed with Miriam! Let us go!”

“Grace, save us some peaches!”

Grace ignored their demands and reasoning. She ate another slice of delicious sweet peach.  Finally, she held up one hand to quiet them down. She had something to say. They listened.

“I do agree with Miriam. And I am gonna unlock that door for the little ones and the big ones, just as soon as I finish eatin’ these peaches.”

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