Monday, September 14, 2009

Legend of the Persimmon Seed

(I've been waiting at least 50 years to post this.)

When the 14 first cousins were running around on the Vawter farm in McKenzie, Tenn., our cohort in shenanigans was our Aunt Judy. Judy, the youngest of our aunts and uncles, wasn't all that much older than her nephews and nieces.

Judy was known for her practical jokes, ghost stories and tall tales. To my mind, there has never been a horror movie that comes close to approaching the fright level created when Judy recited James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphant Annie." I still get chills thinking about it.

Besides using the screens on the bedroom windows to make "ghost noises" and telling us about all kind of creatures that inhabited the smokehouse and corn crib, she would come up with wild tales like what's inside a persimmon seed. She told in her animated way that if you cracked open the seed of a ripe persimmon you would find a little knife, fork or spoon inside. Since the cousins assembled in McKenzie mainly in the summer, we always missed the fall persimmon crop and the story became just another tale.

I kept Judy's persimmon tale in my mental file for these many years.

Our front yard in Deerfield has three prolific persimmon trees which is one reason we have such fat 'coons around her. I picked up the first ripe persimmons of the season and cracked open two seeds to show you what's inside -- little spoons. In the four falls we have been at Deerfield, I've cracked open hundreds of persimmon seeds and have never failed to find a tiny utensil.

And another thing:

You better mind yer parents, an' yer teachers fond an' dear,
And churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An he'p pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns'll git you
Ef you don't watch out!

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