LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — One of my most vivid memories is climbing up the hillside to the orchards with my grandpa, Mose Adams, who everybody in the family called “Pap.”
I can close my eyes and visualize every tree and tell you the variety of each and every single one.
Without going into detail about the lay out, the upper orchard consisted of one each of Winesap, Rome Beauty, Fuji (that we called Jumbo), Starks Red and Golden Delicious, Black Ben Davis two Grimes Golden, three Horse Apples, two June Apples (one red striped and one yellow) and one tree that came up from seed but yielded bushels of late summer fruit.
The lower orchard, much closer to our house, had blighted and mostly died, but still had half a dozen trees that bore fruit until I was out of high school. I especially remember the two big Grimes Golden trees and a striped June Apple that stood just behind the family cemetery.
Pap crossed over to the other side in November 1954 when I was just a few weeks shy of my sixth birthday. Pap was 86, but I remember going to the upper orchard with him early in October. Mom had given each of us a burlap feed sack and admonished both of us to not try and pack more than we could handle.
But the Black Bens, a small, round, deep purple fruit that Pap cherished above all others were just commencing to get ripe and we wound up putting more apples in my sack than I could easily carry. Half way down the mountain, Pap tied the tops of our sacks together and slung them across his shoulder so he had a peck of apples on his back and another on his chest.
Our intentions were to untie them in the hallway of the barn so I could struggle in with my load and impress Mom. Unfortunately, she was gathering eggs and caught us in the act of making the switch. This was just one of hundreds of times Pap talked me out of getting a whipping.