The Banks County News
January 17, 2001
Fried baloney sandwich
It never happened very often, but when it did, it was always
predictable. We would hear Dad roar down the driveway in the
station wagon, and then he would come clomping through the den.
During summer vacation, my brothers and I would still be in our
pajamas at 11:30 in the morning. That always annoyed him, and
he would order us to get dressed as he passed through on the
way to the kitchen.
Depending on his tone of voice, we sometimes obeyed and sometimes
didn't. Either way, the change was never significant, going only
from PJs to a T-shirt and pair of cut-off jeans. We would then
resume our position in front of the boobtube and wait.
Dad was busy in those days trying to establish his law practice.
The chance to come home for lunch was a rarity. So unusual was
his appearance that we had memorized his routine.
First, there would be a calamitous racket from the kitchen cabinets
as he fought and cursed the pots and pans until the appropriate
skillet surrendered. Having chosen his weapon, we would next
hear a rustling sound coming from the refrigerator, and on cue,
he would holler out to Mother, "Where's the baloney?"
For his efforts, he would always get the same response, and for
the hundredth time my Mother would tell him to look on the bottom
shelf. (According to Dad, the baloney seemed to migrate about
the refrigerator at will. It worried him sorely.)
After the baloney was secured, we heard the clicking of a knife.
Then, with a distinctive whap, a sound that can only be made
by baloney being slapped into a pan on the stove, the sizzling
The smell of burning baloney created an aroma that could not
be mistaken as it slowly meandered through the entire house.
My brothers and I were always mesmerized by the odor, immobilized
on the sofa like refugees from an opium den.
In a matter of minutes, it was over, and Dad would stroll into
the den with a glass of milk, a huge pickle and his fried baloney
sandwich pasted with mayonnaise and mustard. It wasn't the kind
of meal you could get just anywhere.
Thinking about it now, I realize that it was an act of Southern
rebellion. I guess it all started with fried chicken. But the
apparent regional need to fry things to a crisp did not stop
there. After all, who but a Southerner would ever stand in a
garden eyeballing a green tomato and wondering aloud if that
sucker couldn't be sliced, breaded, and thrown into a skillet.
There seem to be no rules or taboos, the promise of fried food
being limited only by the size of the frying pan. So much frying
has gone on over the years that it has caused envy, and inevitably,
disdain. The medical profession continually warns that fried
foods are not good for you. They scowl and shake their heads
But that is only a thinly veiled effort to suppress creative
Southern juices, or greases, as the case may be. For the most
part, Southerners have fought back. In our own minds, I suspect
that we are trying to salvage whatever remains of our cooking
heritage. Waving an apron banner and wielding a ten-pound skillet,
we refuse to yield any further.
I had no way of knowing it at the time, but Dad was waging a
quiet war on those afternoon trips home. He was a true partisan,
fighting back against the growing anti-fry forces, seeking to
preserve the right to fry for my brothers and me.
After his meal, he would run us off the couch and stretch out
to take a quick nap. We all thought it was odd for him to be
sleeping in the middle of the day, but Mother knew better, and
always shushed us to be quiet. "Let your father rest,"
she would reverently caution.
And while the war hero slept, she would slip into the kitchen
and make us a "grilled" cheese sandwich for our lunch.
I realize now that she was trying to shield us from the rigors
of battle and keep hope alive in her own way.
After all, everybody knows that a "grilled" cheese
sandwich ain't nothing but a slab of cheese fried between two
pieces of bread.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
January 17, 2001
Something about Georgia winter mornings.
Waking up to the whispers of rain. The disordered rhythm as drops
dance on the roof, glance off gutters, drum on matted leaves.
Such a gentle symphony. Soothing.
The ever-lightening glow of a gray dawn seeps somehow through
The smoothness of silk, the softness of flannel; hold me pleasantly
confined like a cocoon awaiting longer days and warmer nights.
The tranquil, easy breath.in, out.in, out.
A barely discernible rumble reveals the awakening of the heat
beast, forgotten except for those few months when commanded to
search out the unwanted chills.
I feel the warm air stirring. Lightly caressing threads of disheveled
locks, more tenderly than a mother's hand.
Realizing movement through lids separated only by microns, Lyla
comes into focus. So cute, a beautiful white fluff ball asleep
atop my wicker basket. Feet twinkling, whiskers twitching, dreaming...
She looks so comfortable.
As my head rolls back, a sigh escapes. No longer in neutral,
the magical spell abruptly broken. Duties of the day begin to
I wonder, "Who woke up that 'mind person' so soon?"
"Darn!" hits the air, as feet hit the floor.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.