The Penningtons loved to grow watermelons. Both Fessie and his father, William Hugh Pennington, always had a watermelon patch, and Fessie talked about his great-uncle Greenberry Pennington's watermelons often.
Another Pennington loves watermelons, and that is Fessie's little sister Clara Nell, or Tootsie, as she is known. As a young girl, she couldn't wait for the watermelons to ripen each summer. When Tootsie's impatience got the best of her, she would sneak into the watermelon patch, turn the biggest watermelons over and cut a plug from the bottom of the melon. If it was ripe, she would pull the watermelon and eat it, disposing of the evidence. If the melon wasn't ripe, she would just put the plug back in it and turn it back over. Big Daddy couldn't figure out why his watermelons were rotting in the field until he turned a plugged watermelon over one day. Immediately, he knew that his youngest child had been the culprit.
Fessie took great pride in growing the largest watermelons in Peaceful Valley if not Itawamba County, and he would pile them up under the shade tree in the front yard for people to notice when they were driving by. The picture below of Beck and Alysson was taken underneath this shade tree in 1986 and displays some of Fessie's finest melons.
Fessie was known for what he called his "preacher" watermelons. These watermelons were grown from seeds obtained from Elder Wiley Sammons, a visiting Primitive Baptist preacher at Enon Church. Bro. Sammons was from Tennessee, and he and Mrs. Sammons spent the night with Fessie and Beck during one of the church's association meetings. Somehow or another, the subject of watermelons came up, and Fessie became keenly interested in the huge watermelons that Bro. Sammons said he grew on his farm. On his next visit, Bro. Sammons brought Fessie some of his watermelon seeds, instructing Fessie to not plant the watermelons in the same patch as the other watermelons in order to avoid crossing. Fessie grew his "preacher" watermelons up until he died. I don't know that he sold a single watermelon; he just loved giving them away to friends and family.
As you can tell, the Penningtons were proud of their watermelons. And when their first grandchild came along, they were proud of her too so it was natural for them to kill two birds with one stone and photograph them together! Happy birthday, Alysson!