FILBERT -- One of the greatest things about York County-grown peaches is there ain't no such thing like it in Charlotte.
You know Charlotte. It's that hamlet on steroids a few miles north or northeast, depending on which York County peach stand you are buying a homegrown peach from. It is where bankers line up to buy overpriced drinks and food and coffee and the people bore you into a coma with dronings about the Carolina Panthers and interest rates and the latest fad in rooftop happy hours.
Last year, the bad weather meant no York County peaches. We were just like Charlotte. Moody, banal, superficial and soft.
But this year, our peaches have grown. Again, they are them, we are us.
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To buy a peach from a man or woman who grew that peach like their daddy and granddaddy before them, those robots in SUVs must come south.
They cannot go to Gastonia or Statesville or Concord or Pineville or Huntersville or any other nearby place where the trees grow nothing but money. I suppose Union County, N.C., has peaches, but nobody in Charlotte would admit they have been to Union County except to get it en route to the beach.
So they come here. They come to us. To get ours.
In Fort Mill, that means south from Charlotte along U.S. 21 and Business 21 to The Peach Stand. There is a man who worked that Springs family land in Fort Mill, those peach trees, for almost eight decades. A gem nicknamed "Mr. Rose."
He's Roosevelt Walker, 77, who retired a few years ago after a lifetime of growing Springs peaches starting when he was old enough to walk. A lifetime of meeting people from as far away as Canada who come for the peaches that are part of his blood.
There is nobody like "Mr. Rose" in Charlotte helping to grow, pick and sell peaches. Mr. Rose is hanging around The Peach Stand during peach season every day of his life.
They will come down U.S. 321 through Clover to Filbert to Dori Sanders, the author of the book "Clover." And they buy peaches from her and her brother, grown on Sanders family land that is the basis for that wonderful book. They can listen to Dori Sanders tell stories, and if they are smart they can learn a thing or two.
"I never brag on 'first peaches," Sanders told me Friday as I bought the first peaches of the season, picked that morning. "Later is sweeter. But these are ours."
More than three dozen varieties of peaches, whitish and orangey and yellow-like over the course of the summer, starting right this week.
Ours means people of character who are characters.
Jimmy Bryant is on the eastern side of the highway and down the road a piece. His late father was nicknamed "Meek" and was a legendary peach man. Nobody nicknamed "Meek" ever grew a peach in Charlotte or threw in a few extra for free like Meek did.
Ours means Ben Smith at The Peach Tree, where dozens of "The Peach Tree Girls" work all summer, selling Smith family peaches that are as much a part of York County as any river or building.
Ours means them coming down S.C. 49 to get to York on U.S. 321, where you find Bob Hall's place. Further on along S.C. 5 just west of York proper and Arthur Black's place. Peach people. At every one of these places, you can try any variety first.
Sample, talk, listen. Slow down and find out that a peach grown from that land tastes like heaven. You will see Charlotte people with pale skin ask where the organic pomegranates are that cost $19.99 a pound, then see them shiver with excitement when local peaches are sweeter and better and so much cheaper.
Sure, a few other South Carolina counties grow peaches, and more of them.
But we got ours. The best. Ours are best because York County peach farmers named Mr. Rose and Sanders and Smith and Bryant and Hall and Black say so.
On U.S. 321 between York and Clover for more than a quarter- century is Queen's Garage. Directions? This is how Wanda Campbell at Queen's tells people coming from the north: "Go past all the peach places, past the peach trees, and there we are."
The peach is, in summer, our North Star. It's how you find us.
The York County peach. Succulent and sweet. And again this year, after a year off because of rotten weather, they are ours.
Andrew Dys • 329-4065