Whitesburg KY

The story behind the Babe Beans

Points East

My wife Loretta and I picked the last mess of green beans we’ll be getting out of the garden this year just before dark Monday.

In fact, I didn’t even know they were there until we went out to check on our most-likely, lost-cause snow peas that are about ready to blossom but may not get the chance. I planted them two weeks later than I should have, otherwise we’d be eating snow peas for free right now that are going for $4.99 a pound in the produce section at Meijer’s .

I love ‘em but not nearly well enough to shell out that kind of money.

Our vines are beautiful and I was lifting them back to show them off when I noticed that some green beans I’d planted in the sweet corn had survived last summer’s drought after all. There were only six or eight vines, but they were loaded down with big, mature, emerald green veggies that sort of looked like white half runners on steroids.

Loretta wanted to know what they were called and where they came from and why I was grinning like a possum eating green persimmons as we plucked them off the vines which I had simply pulled up by the roots so we wouldn’t have to bend over.

I was grinning because I wanted to tell her another story related to the beans.

“The mother of the first girl I ever kissed who actually knew what she was doing, sent me those bean seeds in the mail a couple of years ago,” I explained. “They are called the Babe Beans, named, I believe, for one the family’s ancestors, Babe Campbell. At least they were sent to me by Tannie Cornett who lives at Ulvah in Letcher County and whose maiden name was Campbell. Tannie got my mailing address out of The Mountain Eagle when I published it in a column for one reason or another. I just got around to planting some of them this year.”

“Ohhhhhkay, but that doesn’t explain the ridiculous grin,“ Loretta muttered.

“I was just thinking that the beans are mighty pretty, just like Tannie’s daughter, and if they taste half as good as those kisses, we’re gonna be having some mighty fine eating too,” I said!

Loretta kept on quietly and thoughtfully picking beans for a minute or two. “So just how long has it been since you got all that good kissing from little Miss Cornett?” my wife finally wanted to know.

“Oh, ‘bout 48 years, give or take a month or two,” I told her, “but some things are just so sweet you never forget them.”

“And I guess Mrs. Cornett knew all about you sneaking around and smooching on her daughter and after all these years she decided to send you some seed beans for old time’s sake?” Loretta queried.

I said, “Nope, but two or three times when I went to their house to do some sparking, I did help Mom pick some beans. And besides that, it’s common knowledge that I like to grow heirloom beans.”

That seemed to be enough to satisfy my wife’s curiosity for the time being, but I’m sure the subject will come up again after I put the Babe Beans on the table for supper tomorrow night. I’d bet anything that she will want a further comparison between the taste of the beans of my old age and the kisses of my youth.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that Tannie Cornett sees this story and also knows that I still have enough seed left to get the Babes planted on time next year. Thank you, Tannie!

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