Happy Corner: Tomato sandwich, anyone?

During the stay home days of the Covid pandemic last summer, I did a lot of plant propagation.  As a result, I grew a lot of pepper and planted them in large pots. 

This year, my husband used some of the same pots of soil to plant tomatoes.  In his grow-boxes he has some gigantic Big Boy tomato plants, but mostly we wound up with cherry tomatoes which have outdone themselves. However, cherry tomatoes donÂ’t adapt to tomato sandwiches, a southern favorite.  

Growing up on a farm with plenty of fresh tomatoes, though, tomato sandwiches were not a menu item for my family because we never bought light bread.  Corn bread was always on the menu at our house to go with all the summer vegetables and the fish fries, a regular Friday night feature of the Wells Family. (Trips to Panama City and the beaches selling farm produce and products was on FridayÂ’s schedule and most of the time a load of mullet fish to peddle in Caryville area on Saturday loaded the pick-up on the return.  In fact, we had a big old wooden insulated ice box that sat on the back porch that kept the fish fresh until they were sold.  I weighed up many sales of mullet for 3 pounds for 25 cents.)

     About the only time we had tomato sandwiches was at the annual Singing School held at Bethel Primitive Baptist Church one week in the summer. Nothing could duplicate the taste of the sweet juicy delicacy on slices of fresh bread generously spread with real mayonnaise.  I donÂ’t remember having a bottled soft drink to go with the sandwich, only water from the neighborsÂ’ well, the Collins who lived on the Brackin place.

Another tomato sandwich that I remember was at the Bay County Farmers Market.  We started the blueberry farm in 1983 and began selling berries in Â’85, but I didnÂ’t start taking them to the farmers market in Bay County till a few years later.  It was located on 15th Street with none of the quick food places nearby.  Holmes CountyÂ’s Lonnie Hagan was one of the mainstays of the market setting up every day with peas, sweetcorn, watermelons, squash, ectra, and always those good old home- grown tomatoes most of it produced by the Carmichael family.  Now, when I have a jucy homegrown tomato sandwich, I am reminded of Mr. Hagan who gave me a freshly made tomato sandwich that first day I took blueberries to the Bay County Farmers Market.   Nothing will ever taste better.

Several Holmes County Farmers were instrumental in the establishment and the continuation of that market.  The Hardys and the Millers.  Mr. Bill Hardy grew the produce and his wife Krystine was the main salesperson with help from grandson Joe. They sold many bushel hampers of peas.  I imagine over the years she had other helpers. The Millers were another Holmes County couple I expected to see there, too.  Plan to get a good watermelon from them as well as other farm produce.  The Johnny Bradshaw family were sometimes set up at “the market.”  Danny Standard, a former student was a regular there in the later years of my market experience. Geraldine Mims sold many bushels of peas, too. I canÂ’t recall all the Holmes County producers that made that market a success.  But over the years, changes came, rules about locally grown changed, markets sprang up in every locality, Hurricane Michael came, years of age accumulated, and I had to let go of the reins as “Marketing Specialist.” But I have pleasant memories of going to market 2 or three summer days a week from about 1990 until 2013 and being known as “the blueberry lady.” One of my most pleasant memories is that tomato sandwich given to me by Mr. Hagan.