It's clear that this place is also blessed by a woman's touch. In the shade of the barn, white tables sit covered with red-checkered tablecloths and heavy with produce. As soon as customers exit their cars, they're plied with free samples and showered with plain old Southern hospitality.
This is where a father of four girls counts his blessings. James's wife, Kathi, and daughters--Brandi, 22, Brooke, 21, Brittani, 15, and Bethani, 13--all help out with the family business. The outside of the building might say Cooley Brother's, but everybody around these parts knows about the Killer Bs. No doubt, many a customer has been charmed into buying more produce than intended.
"I love what I do. The people who come here make it all worthwhile," says eldest daughter Brandi, a recent Clemson University graduate. "So many of the customers are like family because they've watched us grow up. We love our customers, and in return they love us back."
As the enthusiastic sales crew welcomes customers, James loads pallets onto tractor trailers bound for supermarkets all over the Southeast. Within hours, folks in Chattanooga, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Charlotte will be sinking their teeth into a tree-ripened Carolina peach.
"I'm like everybody else," James admits. "I think our peaches taste a lot better and look a lot better. They're big, sweet, and juicy. They just say summer. We're proud of them."
The McLeods of McBee
Folks in tiny McBee, South Carolina, somehow seem to know when the McLeods are packing peaches. They begin gathering at the shed long before the assembly line starts up, and they sit in white lawn chairs visiting with friends and neighbors.
When the din of the machinery makes conversation difficult, they watch as the peaches are graded and the boxes of seconds begin to pile up. Gradually, the customers make their selections and head home to slice, sample, can, and pickle the peaches they've bought.
"I've been coming here a million years," declares Mrs. Ada Dawson, a nonagenarian who regularly drives from Florence. "These peaches are the best I've ever tasted. I have 16 grandchildren, so the peaches go fast."