Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Southern Gold

Tiny Lady Peas with a few baby butter beans mixed in.
Am I the only one who loves Lady Peas?  Have you ever eaten them?  When I was a little girl, my grandmama Dandridge, Ollie May Dupuy Dandridge, would plant them for me every summer. She would say, "Sugar, I planted you some Lady Finger Peas," as she called them. I knew this was an effort for her. She was in her mid-sixties when I was born—the last of the grandchildren.

She still kept her garden, picked it, and sat and shelled those tiny peas until she had a "mess."  My grandmama—that's her there with my grandaddy Dandridge—was barely five feet tall. They were famous in these parts....Barr, Looxahoma, Thyatira.  The entertained guests on Sunday afternoons on the big front porch of their farmhouse. She never learned to drive, but Grandaddy would make the rounds each Sunday morning and gather up area children to go to church.

Cathey Spotswood Dandridge
and Ollie May Dupuy Dandridge

He was quite the country gentleman, always tall and dignified, never wearing a cap or hat.  Mr. Cathey was health conscious in a time when most people ate whatever they grew.  He took afternoon naps in a bathtub of cold water to get his blood circulating.  Probably felt good in that hot old house in a Mississippi summer.  If plumbing or electrical work was to be done it was probably done by Miss Ollie.

Grandmama and Grandaddy left Tate County with their three sons after my grandaddy came back from WWI and was told he had TB and should move to a drier climate. She drove, remember I said she didn't drive, all the way out West with their three boys where they settled in West Texas and later New Mexico.  Daddy said when one of the boys would pop up from the back of the old car, she would swat them back down.  It was a long trip.

When my grandaddy's mother got sick, they returned some 11 years later to run the Dandridge farm here in Barr.  Everyday she fed countless men for lunch—grandaddy, her sons, grandsons and little girl me in the summer.

I never recall her sitting down to eat a meal, but standing at the edge of the table waiting to refill a glass or bring another dish from the kitchen. When they were finished eating, she fed the farm workers and the dogs.

But back to the Lady Peas.  Howard and I had planted them once before.  Last year he tried to get seeds for me and there were none to be found. Olivia gave me a pea cousin for Christmas—Zipper Cream Peas.  They are good, much rounder and much larger.

So this summer, the credit has gone to Howard for putting up with these tiny peas.  You do have to shell for what seems like hours to have a little pot for supper.  To me, those peas are the ultimate Southern delicacy, and Miss Ollie was a true Southern treasure.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice!! They are truly the best pea I've ever put in my mouth! I love the fact that my nieces, nephews, and friends call me Ollie. I would have loved her not only because she treasured fine tasting food, but also a handsome and sweet gentleman that taught his children and grandchildren well.