Bill Peach

I’ve known Bill Peach for a dozen years or more. Bill loves books, words, education, and a good story. He is author of four books and sometimes referred to as “the literary man” of Williamson County.  His professional career was in men’s clothing; he was owner of Pigg & Peach on Main Street in Franklin for decades until it closed in 2003. Bill is always dressed to the nines, and most of the time, you’ll see him in a tie with books on it. I treasure my friendship with Bill, and I am pleased to share his story about celebrities and friends in our town of Franklin, Tennessee.

Bill Peach

Panel at the Southern Festival of Books, 2009
Madison Smartt Bell, Currie Alexander Powers, Kathy Rhodes, Bill Peach

 

Celebrities and Friends

Of the many celebrities who have lived in Williamson County, my favorite was probably Marty Robbins.  After Marty’s heart attack he came in Pigg & Peach on his way to the Opry for his first appearance after his surgery and recovery.  Marty had all of his stage outfits custom tailored but bought much of his casual attire from me.  My favorite events with him were gift occasions in which I helped him choose Christmas or birthday clothing for his son, Ronnie.

On the evening of his return to the Opry, he was wearing a western suit, with waist-length jacket, with some western ornamentation. It was a shade of light blue that only a custom tailor would offer, and only Opry performers would buy. He was wearing a traditional stripe tie, pastel blue and yellow, which did no harm to the suit, but did nothing for it. He was uncertain about the tie, and was nervous about his appearance for his first night back.

The suit should have had a string or bola tie.  We looked through every tie display and nothing looked good with the suit, or at least the suit did not look good with any tie we had, and we were running out of time.  I convinced him, and myself, that the tie he was wearing was good.  I straightened and reshaped the knot, wished him well for his performance and sent him on his way smiling and much more upbeat and less nervous.

I often watch the Time/Life CD’s of the classic country hits not available in stores, and hear a line from El Paso, and push back a tear. Marty was told that the single was too long for airplay and should be shortened, but Marty insisted that every line of the story was important.  I miss him.

I would not begin to try to list the many celebrities whom I was fortunate to meet in downtown Franklin.  I don’t know if strangers can understand the bond between Williamson County and its entertainment heroes with whom we have lunch and drink coffee, and enjoy the combination of awe and warmth, with respect for their privacy.

On another occasion, our front door opened and Ernest Borgnine entered. In a loud, dramatic voice he said, “I’m looking for Bill Peach. Where can I find him?”  I questioned what his interest might be.  “I’ve heard a lot about him and I have come to Franklin to meet him.”  George Lindsey was waiting outside, laughing.  They were on their way to a film festival that George sponsored in his hometown in Alabama.

Some of you may know that George has a background on the theater stage, a serious dramatic actor.  Most know him as the character, Goober Pyle, on the Andy Griffith Show from 1964 until 1968, later on Mayberry RFD until 1971. Many remember his appearances on Hee Haw.  He is a talented man.  I admire people with talent and intellect who sacrifice their real image to create a comedic character.  George and I would be in a serious conversation and he would pick up a 7 5/8 hat, pull it over his ears, and launch into an act.

On a serious note, George went through a period of distraction, not at all consistent with either of his characters. I watched him wanting to be George Lindsey, not wanting to be Goober.  During that period, he came to see me one day on his way back from one of our schools where he had read to one of the classes. He was dressed in the Goober work clothes, with pocket protector, tire gauge, and trademark beanie.

This was not many days after the death of Sarah Cannon, and I reminded George that you really can be two people, equally loved, equally respected. I did not know Sarah.  I grew to appreciate her from knowing her husband, Henry.  I frequently had coffee with Henry and Eddy Arnold at Noble’s in Brentwood, and heard stories of a woman more elegant than Minnie’s Grinder’s Switch image.

I said goodbye to Goober and he left and walked across the street, and I thought, “How fortunate I am to have this great actor as a friend!”

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One Comment on “Bill Peach”

  1. Christopher says:

    Hey Kathy and Bill,
    This was great to read. 🙂


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