August 2, 2012

Apple and Apple Trees

Apples were one of the things we considered precious when I was growing up. C. L and Margret Weathers had the greatest trees ever. They would always let us come and pick them up off the ground when Margret had used what she needed. The ones in Zokie Pettus' front yard were great apples too. She had all different kinds; yellow and red. There was one tree in our yard that each year we were lucky to have three apples on it.
The tree was the topic of much conversation from year to year. Counting the few apples was not hard, but we did always know just how many there were. Most every year the apples were at the very top of the little tree. Counting the apples got me stabbed in the leg one morning. This was not from the tree limb, but from the chrome that Daddy had knocked loose on the car the night before. Saturday morning was often a time when I just roamed around the yard or pasture. This morning I was curious about how many and how big the apples were on the tree, beside the driveway.
Grandmother said the reason that this tree did not have many apples was because it was started from a seed of an apple Granddaddy had eaten. She was really surprised it had even sprouted, much less made a tree. These were the store bought apples that were big at the top and went down smaller at the bottom. I don't know what the correct name was.
The car was sitting right under the apple tree with the chrome sticking out on the passenger’s side of the green Pontiac Catalina. This was the car that the hood blew up while my little brother and his friend Tony were riding through the Corum Hollow. It bent the corners of the hood where each side of the hood met the windshield. This car was not without a dent here and there. Daddy came in one afternoon with the front fender dented and his head bleeding. When I walked out to the car, he was still sitting in the driver’s seat; he scooted over to the middle and I asked him what he had done to the car? His answer was, “are you not going to ask me about my head?”
He was right that was a bit insensitive. I was more worried about the car than his head.
The morning of the cut on my leg, that I do by the way still have two scars from that piece of chrome stabbing my leg. The ironic thing about the wound I suffered that Saturday morning is I ran into it again an hour or so later. This time I didn’t run into it in the driveway, but while we were chasing the cows at the Eddy Farm. We had just got out of the car at the gate when I was looking to see where the cows were. I just walked right into it again. This cut was deeper than the other but only about a half inch from the one I had just gotten a short time earlier that morning.
The sympathy I received from both wounds was very close to that I gave Daddy when he came home with his head bleeding. The response was mainly, how could you possibly run into the same piece of chrome twice in the same morning? That’s what I get for being so insensitive to Daddy, I guess. Forget a shot or stitches; this was easily doctored with a soaking in gas. Gas really was what Grandmother had us soak deep wounds in; we didn’t have coal oil, we had gas for the tractors, that’s what we used. It must have worked, because nothing ever rotted off, that we cut.
The apples that we got from Margret and C. L were great. My grandmother would have us cut them into small pieces to dry. We put them on the shed part of the barns top, it was tin and the heat from the sun dried them quicker. Dried apple pies are the most heavenly thing to eat in the world. She also, would take them and pour tons of sugar on them and bake the apples in the oven. She did not peel them, just cut them into quarters and baked the apples in butter and sugar. She didn’t have a recipe; she just poured the sugar and butter on. She did this in the same old metal pie pan every time. This was another one of the greatest things I ever tasted. The dried apples were poured into a clean white pillow case and put in the deep freeze. When she wanted to make pies she just took what she needed out and put the pillow case back in the deep freeze.
The apples at Zokies were what I used to eat as we walked over to the Mandy Farm to pick cotton. The trees are gone from that yard now; I noticed this going from Lexington to Rogersville, backroads recently. Mama and Daddy crashed into one of them about a year before Daddy died. The car they were in was one he had not had very long. It was a blue Dodge Polara. It was really a shiny pretty car. He had started having seizures from drinking. He had one as they were going up the hill, just past where County Road 51 and 50 meet. Mama thought she had to stop the car, so she reached her foot over and tried to reach the brake. She missed the brake and hit the gas instead. This she did not admit for a while after the crash. It did make sense that; that is what happened, because the bank had tire marks as if the tires had spun over the small bank, by the road. They jumped the bank in Ofie and Cofie's yard and then went into Zokie's, crashing into the first apple tree in her yard. Ofie and Cofie lived in the old white house next to their sister's brick house. Zokie had a husband, Hollis was his name. Ofie was an old maid and Cofie was divorced. Mama cut her head bad enough that they called an ambulance. Daddy would have probably refused to go to the hospital if Cofie had not called the Rescue Squad.This was when he learned that he was having the seizures from drinking. He was to go back to the doctor after the accident, but never did. He was never really well after that. He died in December of the next year. I have often thought that he hurt his lungs, because of the impact of the steering wheel to his chest.
My grandmother always took everything any one wanted to give us, especially apples. She really did like to have something for desert. Sweets were a weakness for her. In later years she would buy cake mix. The mix was not sweet enough for her and she added more sugar to the mix. I can still hear her quoting the prices of Duncan Hines cake mix. I was only 69 cents, she thought that was a great price. My little brother didn't like anything sweet, but would eat plain cake with peaches. To this day apple anything is my favorite. I like apple more than chocolate; that is saying a lot, because I love chocolate. We would get peaches from some of the neighbors, but they were small most of the time and did not go near as far as the apples. I have gathered many apples and stories about apples along the way. Just another part of the things I gather from others along the way.
Not My Grandmother's Baked Apples, but this works best for me.
4 tart green apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.

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