‘Peanut lady’ always makes me smile

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday morning, I headed to town in a rush, with three errands on my list, and a half-dozen things left to do before my co-workers arrived for lunch in less than two hours.

And there, at her usual place, was Aldean Brooks, known to most Andalusians simply as “the peanut lady.”

I’ve never stopped and talked to Aldean, but I pass her on the corner at the intersection of Prestwood Bridge Road and the Bypass, where she hawks peanuts, at least once each day.

She never fails to wave in greeting. Friday, a Santa hat adorned her head, which brought a big-old smile to my face. I am a great admirer of hers.

In an interview we did with her in the summer of 2010, she told us that she started hawking peanuts to supplement her disability income when her hands “just stopped working” after years in the sewing factory.

I have seen her “on the job” when it was so hot most of us didn’t want to walk from our vehicles to our air-conditioned offices. And I will never forget the cold snap when both state and county workers were told to not report to work until late in the morning. The peanut lady didn’t get the word, and she was on the job early that cold, cold winter morning.

Earlier this year, there was a concerted effort to get the peanut lady off of her corner. It seems not everyone is as happy to see her as I am, and several people complained to the city. Mainly, they didn’t like that traffic sometimes slows when people stop to buy peanuts. But she’s on a public right-of-way, and she is hawking an agricultural product. She is perfectly legal.

Aldean approaches this work she has found for herself with a smile. It gives her a little income, she said, and helps pass the time.

She’s not much on photographs, but she has consented to be painted by Margo Russell’s young art students on more than one occasion.

As I passed her yesterday, I took note of the smile on her face, and the apparent joy with which she does this work she has chosen. I was glad the holidays hadn’t sapped it out of her.

I love almost every day of my job. The newspaper, my mentor taught me, is a jealous mistress – – long hours, stress, and working holidays are just part of our lives, and often cheat our families and friends.

But after I saw Aldean, I made a mental note to keep smiling and share the joy. I probably won’t don a Santa hat, but I will wave with more enthusiasm.

Take time to appreciate the little things that make life better, and thanks to the peanut lady for many happy greetings.