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Pickled Peaches

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  Grandma Hedden and I, Circa 1958


 By: Jene Hedden


My paternal grandmother, Sallie Thurman Hedden, was well up in years as far back as I can remember her. She was born in 1875 just over the Spencer county line near Little Mount, Ky.

After marrying my grandfather, R.J. Hedden, she lived on our family farm and raised two sons, RJ., Jr. and my father Thomas.  She was a homemaker, an accomplished cook and took great pride in her family.

In 1944, my grandfather fell into ill health, so they moved to Bland Avenue. My mother and father lived with them on Bland the first year of their marriage.

When I was about the age of 12, I lived in Louisville, Ky., but came to Shelbyville frequently with my parents so they could work on the farm on Seven Mile Road (now Woodlawn Road). Often, my father would often stop at Grandma's home for a visit before traveling on to the farm.

 Sometimes Grandma asked me to stay for the day. What a treat! It was not that I didn't want to go to the farm and work in some aspect of tobacco crop production.  Rather it was the chance to spend the day with my Grandma!

Grandmother had a practice of asking me what I wanted to eat when I was there for the day with her. She never drove a car, but that wasn’t a problem because the downtown stores were only five blocks from her home.

Pickled peaches were a special treat at Grandmother’s house. To be honest, she offered them to me before I knew anything about them, so it seems she liked them too. She would suggest that we walk uptown to the A and P with her shopping bag, and  I quickly learned that if I asked her for pickled peaches, she might buy a jar and carry it home in her bag.

The small, whole peaches were bathed in a sweet, tart, spicy liquid and packed in Mason jars. If no one noticed, I would sip the liquid that seemed to be an additional treat for my taste. The flesh of the peaches was firm, so I suspect they were a bit green when processed. However, after being bathed in the spices, the peaches and the juice tasted wonderful! Sometimes, my grandmother would buy two jars at the A and P; one jar to open and eat while at her house and one for me to take home for later enjoyment.

I lost my grandmother in June of 1963 when she suffered a massive stroke. After she was gone, I never had the desire for pickled peaches again. Maybe my taste changed as a teen or maybe the peach concoction was a sweet reminder of a lost connection with my grandmother.

You can still find pickled peaches in specialty stores. I occasionally see them on the shelf. The glass jars have grown smaller. But thank you, I will just hold on to the sweet memories of a 12 year old walking with my grandma to the Great A and P Food Store.

She was a special “peach” to me.