Locked in Arthur’s Cooler… A Tribute to Black’s Peaches

Because there are days in the quicksand, and we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves…..

A few years ago, during the peak season of my homesteading passion, I ordered an acre of heirloom corn. And by order, I actually collected a group of like minded non-GMO, Earth loving people, and we paid a local farmer to grow us an acre of heirloom, silver queen corn. This worked out to around 5-15 bushels for each of us committed to the experiment. Depending on the weather. Now, the farmer that finally agreed to our deal lived up the road a bit, but an older, much closer farmer, by the name of Arthur Black, agreed to let us use his farm stand as our meeting grounds. Arthur told me GMO corn would end up feeding the world, but he knew there was a niche market for us hippies and his buddy was younger than him, so I stood a chance on Jody agreeing to the whole escapade. Jody jumped at the opportunity to work with us. Hippies or not.

Now, as a side note, hail hit our acre and raked right through all the stalks. It was a bit of a pitiful crop, and poor Jody was nothing but gracious the entire time. Farmers work harder than just about anybody I know. He delivered us the survivors and it still took me two days to shuck my corn.

Well, the day of delivery came, and Jody dropped off over a dozen crates full of corn loaded in their husks, leaving them in Arthur Black’s big walk in cooler out the back of his farm store and located in the big green barn. I was to come and get it all for everybody that morning so it didn’t waste too much room.  Therefore, I promptly arrived and backed my Explorer right up to that barn and went straight to that cooler to start unloading those crates. The ladies running the farm store informed me they’d gotten all their produce out for the day and to just shut it tight as I left. So I walked right in, started checking out the task at hand, and picked up the first crate. Except in my haste, I hadn’t propped open the cooler door. And now, while dressed in a knit skirt and a tank top, I was thoroughly locked in Arthur Black’s giant cooler behind the farm store in his big green barn. The handle, apparently, had been broken for quite some time, but at this moment I didn’t know anything other than I was locked. IN.

Glancing around, a tiny stream of daylight peaked through a corner of the door that hadn’t completely sealed. I kneeled down, face to the dirt floor, and screamed with all my might. I screamed til I ran dizzy, and all along I just kept thinking how serious this could turn out to be. Nobody needed anything from that cooler. Nobody was coming. My phone was in that Explorer.

I could hear Arthur’s elderly three legged dog scratching at the other side of the door, obviously alarmed by my distress calls. I prayed he’d go get help. And then I panicked. And in my panic, I tried to remember anything I could have ever learned about survival, and all I could think of was that I needed to eat. It would get my juices flowing, keep my sugar levels up, and maybe give me energy to produce body heat. This was not scientific knowledge, obviously. Just my panicked reasoning. Looking around, it suddenly occurred to me that I was surrounded by food! Beautiful peaches, cantaloupes, corn, and all the produce of a summer garden overflowing off those refrigerator shelves. And so I did what anyone out of their mind, locked in a cooler, at the mercy of a three legged elderly dog would do – I started eating.

I started eating peaches. Delicious, freshly picked Black’s farm peaches. It was a task of survival after all. During my panic, the dog had started barking, and right as I was diving into my second peach, the door opened. There I was, in my knit skirt and my tank top, peach juice running down my dirt covered cheeks, completely out of my mind with panic, eating food from the cooler shelves. And there was one of the farm stand employees, checking out why on Earth the dog wouldn’t stop barking. (That dog likely saved my life. But whew. Not my pride.)

Well, she immediately took in the whole view, and announced that if I ever chose to lock myself in Arthur Black’s cooler again, the back door worked just fine. All I had to do was turn around.

I loaded my corn crop out of that cooler right into my Explorer and thanked her profusely for the help.


Y’all. I still can’t look at that big green barn without wanting peaches.

And Arthur does know how to grow some darn ones.

I just bought fresh yellow cling-frees today.


P.S. Black’s Peaches is in York and worth a day trip. He’s got a tractor playground, hay bales for climbing, produce, ice cream, and a lunch counter. Just an FYI. Even the humiliation from years ago can’t keep me away.


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