Shirley Bobo

Shirley Bobo

When I was a kid and lived on Greasy Creek in Leslie County, Kentucky, summer meant preserving enough food to last through the winter. 

Canning peaches was the best time for me. Every summer a truck from Georgia loaded down with peaches came by our house.

They would stop in front of everyone's house and holler "do ya'll want any peaches." Every year, Mom and Dad bought a bushel of peaches to can.

Those peaches were ripe, not like the hard green things you buy at the store. They were the sweetest, juiciest peaches in the world, so they had to be canned right away.

Canning anything is a big job, even more so back in those days when people canned in a wash tub over an open fire. Dad built a fire in the front yard and set a wash tub full of water over it.

While the water was heating, Grandpa, Mom and Dad got busy peeling and cutting up peaches.

When it began to get dark, Grandpa started telling scary tales. We sat on the porch in the dark, the only light from the wood burning fire, listening to Grandpa tell us about ghosts and witches and all those adventures he had when he was a young man.

He had many a run in with a ghost or a witch and I believed every word of it. Finally, the water would come to a boil and in went the jars of peaches wrapped in rags, so the jars would not crack.

There were a lot of peaches to be canned so this job went on into the night. Grandpa would get all fired up telling his tales and I got more and more scared.

I'd ease up close to Mom and Dad, afraid if I got too far away from them, one of those ghosts or witches would grab me.

Finally, all the peaches were canned and the jars placed on the porch to cool and seal overnight. Grandpa walked home in the dark, he didn't have too far to go. He had walked it a million times before, he knew the road like the back of his hand.

I was reluctant to go to bed, knowing one of those ghosts or witches was in there waiting for me. I mustered up the courage, jumped in bed, crawled under the covers and covered up my head nearly suffocating to death as I drifted off to sleep, listening to lids popping all through the night.

Shirley Bobo is retired paralegal, as well as a published poet and award winning photographer who blogs about travel and her childhood in rural Southeast Kentucky. You can email her at