The Peanut Man remembered
Bank’s memorial honors Byron Trawick
His consistent presence at one of the busiest intersections in Dothan seemed to encourage a slowing down.
Indeed, the very steam from Byron Trawick’s massive kettles, and the ever-pleasant countenance of the man himself, lured thousands of motorists over the years to slow down, pull over and enjoy the peanuts.
“Dad probably sold about a billion over the years,” said Trawick’s son, Garry. “People from Europe, Canada, all over the country, up north – they’d always stop in here when they came through. Usually, they bought peanuts both ways, on their way to Florida and on their way back up north.”
Chances are they chatted and came to know a little bit about Trawick. They might have called him The Peanut Man, or Cotton, a nickname his snow white hair earned him, but few could deny the lusciousness of his legumes.
In honor of Trawick, who died January 7 at the age of 80, Friend Bank unveiled a peanut-shaped memorial Thursday morning with The Peanut Man’s likeness, and at the very site where the son of a Barbour County sharecropper sold peanuts for the past 13 years.
Wearing a straw hat and denim clothing, the bespeckled peanut man smiled at traffic, as he invitingly offers a ladle full of fresh peanuts, just scooped from one of his original kettles.
As his widow, Evelyn, and daughters Shannon Butterworth and Cynthia Franz wiped tears from their eyes, Friend Bank President Joseph Johnson said he believed Trawick would like the peanut.
“On the day before the opening of the Peanut Festival, who knows more about the peanut than Mr. Trawick?” Johnson said.
Shortly after closing on the property at 84 and the Circle in mid-2005, Johnson said he went to see Trawick and introduced himself. Trawick was excited over the bank’s future presence on the site.
“That’s great,” Johnson recalls Trawick said. Then, gesturing behind him, Trawick had said, “I’d like to have my hook-up right over there.”
“Our bank always included a place for Mr. Trawick. He knew this property. He knew its history and he knew our plans. I am sorry he didn’t live long enough to see it,” Johnson said.
While his trade might have been a treasure for passing motorists and tourists, as we all purchased and enjoyed locally raised peanuts, Trawick’s work ethic was also an inspiration.
Almost daily Trawick left his home on Alice Street in the early morning hours, dressed in light-colored clothing and a straw hat as protection from the south Alabama sun. Arriving at his corner, soon, the boiling began and by mid-morning, customers were turning in.
“He was here from 7 a.m. to right before sunset,” said Butterworth.
Rain or shine, Garry Trawick said, his father was as consistent as the mail man until his health started to fail last year. Trawick loved meeting people and talking, family members say. He had a kind disposition and when customers were departing, Trawick was always heard to say, “Have a good day and let the Lord ride with you.”
Garry said his father got the idea to sell boiled peanuts after a visit to his sister and brother-in-law’s house in Tallahassee.
“My uncle was selling peanuts on a corner and dad said, ‘I want to start selling peanuts.’ I said it was not going to go over here,” Garry recalls.
But go over, it did.
Trawick first sold peanuts from the back of a trailer at a Spur gas station on U.S. 231 North. In 1995 Trawick moved to the Exxon Station at the 84/Circle intersection. Again, son Garry didn’t think it a wise move. It was too difficult to get in and out, Garry insisted. But his father pointed to the donut shop across the street, and knew that customers would manage it.
“After he started selling, it was four or five years before Daddy took a vacation,” Garry said. “I asked him why and he said he didn’t want to be missed or forgotten about. Thanks to Friend Bank, he won’t be missed or forgotten.”
The peanut was designed by local artist Wes Hardin.
Friend Bank, the Dothan branch of what was Slocomb National Bank, opened Oct. 5. The new bank building has 7,000 square feet, 12 employees, and a Friend Dog named Buddy. The lobby is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 6 p.m. on Friday. The drive-through opens at 8:30 a.m.