When I was walking through the produce aisles at the grocery store yesterday I happened upon the peanut display. They looked so good, and they were on sale, too, so I bought two bags. Large bags, maybe 24 ounces. You know how they say not to shop when you're hungry.... After I checked out and transferred my groceries from the cart to the car, I opened one of the bags and ate a few, and then a few more. Standing there eating those peanuts reminded me of Dad.
I think my Dad - Lee Doyle - liked peanuts a lot. I have 3 distinct memories involving Dad and peanuts. When I was little, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, occasionally Dad would take me with him when he went to buy gas. It was always late mornings when we went, and always to the gas station on Main Street in Mineral Ridge. Was it Smitty's that was on the south end of the Ridge? I remember a man would come out of the station and pump the gas. He and Dad would visit and Dad would check under the hood. When he was finished, he'd close the hood and go into the gas station while I stayed in the car. The gas station was a smallish building and you had to up a number of steps to go inside. Dad would disappear through the door, then soon emerge, hat on his head, with his hand in his sweater pocket. Back inside the car, out would come two little 5-cent bags of roasted, shelled peanuts. And we would sit there in the car and eat them. What a treat!
I also remember going to the Canfield Fair where there was a peanut seller with a cart full of peanuts. Was it Eddy's? The cart had a mound of peanuts in the center and along the sides were small brown bags of peanuts with the tops folded very carefully and particularly, all alike. It seemed that the peanut stand was conveniently close to wherever we were going to meet everyone else. (Did Dad plan that?) Dad bought us a bag or two of peanuts and we stood there cracking and eating them. I remember that he showed me the "button" - as he called it - and explained that if I pressed it, the peanut would split in half. It always does!
When we ate peanuts at home, which was an "event" because Mom rarely bought peanuts in the shell, she would spread a large cloth on the floor in the living room, and we would all sit around it and crack our peanuts over the cloth. Mom was such a meticulous house-keeper that she would not have wanted peanut crumbs anywhere in the house. Peanuts do create a lot of crumbs, but they are so good!
Oh, and then there are the pistachios! My brother Bob introduced me to pistachios. He used to work at Beazel's in the Ridge. One day I was riding with him in the car and he stopped and went inside. When he came back out, he had a bag of little red things. I didn't know what they were because I'd never seen pistachios before. We pried them apart and ate. Delicious! I think that was the beginning of my love of pistachios. You can't find the red ones anymore, but the natural ones are just as beautiful and just as delicious!
I guess I'd say peanuts are a comfort food these days.