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Out on the Mudline

W. P. Sissell

Peddling Fruits Was Better Than Growing ‘Em

The Peddler

The first day of spring has passed. My son, the mail carrier, tells me that some farmers on his route have been planting cotton. Some of them may be planting over unless they planted overcoats with those seed, for the temperature this morning is down close to the frost line. Our planting date was always around the twenty-fifth of April and we seldom, if ever, had to plant over.  

Back when we raised a garden (previous to a heart attack)  our garden was always going great by “cotton plantin’ time.”  Nannette and I like tomatoes.  In our early years in Batesville we became acquainted with “the peddler” because he, almost every year, had the first tomatoes for sale.  

I used the term acquainted because we really didn’t get to know “the peddler” until I started the cardiac rehab exercise program after that heart attack and found “the peddler” attending that program. We soon got much better acquainted.


“The Peddler” is Mr. A. B. Darby.  With a name like that he turns out to be the first Darby in the phone book and there is a four-inch plus list in the very fine print phone book.

I never found out just why Mr. Darby became a peddler other than I know that many farmers found they enjoyed peddling—a  lot of time by peddling a load of watermelons and in addition  they made quick cash money.      

We got engaged in conversation while walking on side by side treadmills one day. I knew that he farmed for many years and at nine o’clock that morning he said, “I’m tired,” to which  I replied, “Mr. Darby, it’s only nine  o’clock, remember when you were plowing cotton, following that mule, how long would you have been walking now?” His answer was, “About three hours or better  but I was young then.”  

A Change

From that conversation  Mr. Darby went on to tell me all about peddling.  As I remember, he told me that he started by raising a large garden but soon found out the “peddling season” could be extended by raising certain crops and bringing in some produce from other areas – Florida, lower Alabama and Mississippi. Just a few days made a difference.  

The real shocker came in the following remark from Mr. Darby: I soon realized  that I could make more money, take care of my family better in two to three months, just driving, standing around, visiting, selling folks produce that they really wanted,  than I could farming.       

He went on to tell me that he realized more income selling produce in the early spring than he ever did farming, and he was selling crops raised by other people. Mr. Darby found his “niche” as many others do, doing something unexpected.  

Later he said  that the secret of being successful in “peddling” was in the buying.  He has never told me anything about “how he bought.”  That’s ”kinda” like Floyd McCain and his “wart removing system,” or the old “foot doctor” in Water Valley.  

A. B. has retired from “peddling” now but just the other day, remarked that the spring weather was giving him the “peddlin’ itch.” So if you see him somewhere along Highway 6, close to Batesville, stop and chat awhile—he’s a good conversationalist and buys and sells good produce.

New Man on the Block

We have another young man in Batesville  who went into full time “truck cropping” when one of the factories  closed to move to Mexico.  He and his family are long time friends of ours.  I think that he has found that same “niche” that A. B. Darby found.  He has already installed several shallow irrigation wells.  

We hope you have a good week.  We got .65 inches of rain.    You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or   Please note the new e-mail address. 

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