By Dottie Dewberry
For the WPT
Recently, I was at an afternoon gala where I had the opportunity to partake of some delicious fresh figs. These were plump, fresh off the tree.
As I was complimenting the hostesses on their delightful offerings of refreshments, one of the ladies, Glenda Bishop Palmer, confirmed that the figs had come from her tree.
She was soon telling me that the tree would fill up half of the space where we were standing; personally, I was skeptical. She told me later that it was the look on my face that told her I did not believe her. Anyway, one thing led to another, and she then invited me to come see her tree. So off I went late that afternoon when it was cooler outside for looking at trees and picking figs.
When I arrived, it was a sight to behold. There stood a fig tree that was at least 25 feet tall with a circumference of the foliage about 60 feet. The tree was more than 20 feet across. So I asked Glenda Bishop Palmer, daughter of Wyman Bishop, and niece of Quentin Fulgham, to tell me the story of the tree. I am a believer now. It is huge.
Years ago, Quinton and Lucille Bishop Fulgham lived at the fork of the Old Starkville Road (763) and the two-lane U.S. Hwy. 82 West.
When MDOT was making U.S. Hwy. 82 into a four-lane road, the Fulghams’ house was moved. They decided to move a doublewide trailer behind Quinton’s parent’s old house.
Quinton’s parents were Willie and Lela Fulgham, and they were the ones who had built the house back in 1948. This is the house that Glenda and Bill Palmer live in today.
Before they moved the trailer onto the lot, they had a man come in with a bulldozer to level off the space. Glenda thinks his name was a Mr. Gammill from Choctaw County. Now, behind the Willie Fulgham’s house were outbuildings: a blacksmith shop, a barn next to a fig tree and a chicken house. While they were leveling, they had the man dig up the fig tree that was next to the barn that had been torn down. Unfortunately, the fig tree did not survive the moving.
Anyway, one day a few weeks later when Quinton went out to his woodworking shop, there was a fig tree in a large black container. Today, it is still a mystery where the tree came from. So Quinton and his great-nephew Brad Palmer got permission (LOL) to plant the tree where the chicken house used to be.
The rest of the story is a giant tree that bears gallons of figs every day for weeks at a time. Glenda says she picks figs three times a day and gives them away. There must have been some magic in the dirt under the chicken house.
Glenda told me that she gets in the bucket of the front-end loader and her husband Bill lifts her up to pick the figs at the top of the tree. She uses a ladder to pick the ones middle ways of the tree. As for me, I stood on the ground and picked all I wanted. YUM! YUM!
She says raccoons, opossums, squirrels, birds, bees and deer come by and help themselves freely to the ones down low and to the ones way up high.
“The Brown Turkey Fig Tree is an old-time favorite in the southeast for fresh eating and canning whole. The medium-sized, bell-shaped fruits are purplish-brown with light pink flesh (Internet).”