A Peach of a Pair
Author:Kim Boykin

A Peach of a Pair by Kim Boykin


Acknowledgments


I’m not sure Nettie’s story would have gotten written if it weren’t for Janet Cotter, who shared her love for Columbia College with me and introduced me to the true sisterhood the college is known for. Debbie Chick, librarian extraordinaire, at the Kershaw Country Library in Camden, South Carolina, thanks for your invaluable contributions to this book. Thanks also to Tilara Monroe and Jayne Bowers, who were generous with their time and thoughts on Camden in the 1950s. To Laurie Funderburk, owner of Books on Broad, thank you for supporting my work and pointing me in the right direction during my research.

As always, huge thanks to Doni Jordan, my dear friend, who planted seeds for this story without knowing it. Thank you, Paul Mask, assistant director AFNR and assistant dean extension administration agriculture, at Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Auburn University. I’m incredibly grateful for your thoughts on Alabama Agriculture and what Satsuma might have been like in 1953.

Thanks forever to HRH and Pulpwood Queen, Kathy Murphy, for suggesting I contact Jane McConnell when I was looking for folks who grew up in Palestine, Texas. While Jane’s a Dallas gal through and through, she was kind enough to introduce me to some wonderful folks who shared their love for Palestine. Sara Nell Bible, Ann Lynne Bailey, Lee Brown, and Tomé Nell Gregg, you have my deepest gratitude for sharing memories of your hometown with me. You all have such fabulous names; I’m definitely stealing them for a book one day.

I’m so grateful to Jane Tuttle at the J. Drake Edens Library at Columbia College and the reference librarians at the Palestine Public Library who were wonderful resources to me. Same goes for Stuart Whitaker and his incredible photographs of Palestine. His commitment to the history of his hometown was a godsend. While Stuart told me the Redlands Hotel was not used as a hotel in 1953, I used a smidgen of poetic license and set a scene there anyway because I like the name.

Heartfelt thanks to Shari Bartholomew, a cardio care nurse who knows her way around a heart and a good book, and to Denise Stout Holcomb, booklover, and friend.

I’m one lucky girl to have Leis Pederson for an editor and Kevan Lyon as my agent. Y’all rock! Last, only because I love to give him a hard time, thanks to my brother-in law, Dr. Darrell Boykin, for being my go-to guy whenever I have medical questions. You’re the best.




1


Thursday, March 26, 1953

Mail call,” old Miss Beaumont bellowed into the commons room, and a flock of girls descended on her like biddies after scratch feed. Except for me. Normally, I would have been right there with them, clamoring for news from home. But since Mother called right after the tornado hit last month to say everyone back home in Satsuma was still in one piece, there hasn’t been a single word from anyone. Not even Brooks.

It was bad enough that Hurricane Florence blew through in September and smashed much of Alabama to bits. Six months later, just when everyone was getting a handle on putting my hometown back together, a tornado roared through, undoing Satsuma all over again. And while I wanted Miss Beaumont to bellow my name, I was sure the folks back home were too busy with the cleanup to write.

On good days, the silence was unsettling, and on bad days, it turned my stomach inside out. But I knew better than to complain.

Three and a half years ago, I’d been dying to get out of the armpit of Alabama to study music and accepted a full ride to the most exclusive women’s college in South Carolina. Funny how, back then Satsuma, even Alabama herself, seemed too small for me. Now, all I can think about is moving back home, and it won’t be long, just eight weeks till graduation.

I missed my mother and Sissy like it was the first day of my freshman year. And if I let myself think of the very long list of the people I love who have stopped writing me since those awful catastrophes, I would never stop crying. And Brooks. Loyal, faithful Brooks, who loved me enough to let me go away to college, saying he would wait forever if he had to for me to be his bride. The thought of how much I loved him, missed him, made my heart literally ache with a dull pain that left me in tears.

I was sure Brooks was working himself to death, helping rebuild Satsuma, because that’s the kind of guy he was, always building something. At Christmastime, he proposed, a promise without a ring, but a promise from Brooks Carter is as certain as my next breath.