She’s been a sight of relief and joy for thousands of Lowndes County children over the years. She has a name, but most people just know her as the “Peanut Lady.”
Ever since August 1989, Jeraldine Houston has gone to Valloton, Freedom and Sunset parks, where kids play ball, to sell her homemade wares to spectators.
Sometimes she skipped sleeping at night to prepare her key lime cakes, pecan pies, sweet potato pies, hot boiled peanuts and chicken salad.
Everything is made fresh and sold at a reasonable cost. Four bucks for a heaping sack of peanuts and $1.50 for her wide variety of cakes and cookies.
“People used to tell me I cut my cakes too big or that I put enough chicken salad on the sandwiches for two servings, but I just want to make sure people are satisfied,” she said.
Her recipes are a secret between her and God, but people from all over town share a love for her delicious goodies and her warm personality.
She loved her routine and loved her customers. Children without money would get a handful of peanuts, but nearly all of them got a hug and kiss on the forehead.
Everything continued this way for 23 years until May, when she was notified by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority that she could no longer sell her goods at games.
This is because they have signed an exclusive deal with a local vendor to provide concessions at all youth baseball, adult softball and youth football games for $50 a night.
Parks and Recreation Authority Executive Director George Page said there were no submissions for fulfillment of the contract, but the owner of Funnel King Cakes Factory, Inc., LaWanda Smith notified the Authority of her interest in providing concessions.
“They just started for us this season and have a business license and have a general liability policy that excludes Parks and Recreation from possible litigation,” said Page.