Saturday, April 8, 2006

Mamaw and the Bologna

My sisters and I were born and raised in Southeastern Michigan - an East Tennessee enclave in the Midwest - but we spent every vacation, break, and holiday down south in Tazewell, Tennessee, where my fathers parents still lived on their sprawling farm. When my sisters were young teenagers, my parents took them to Mamaw and Papaw's house and while the menfolk were out whittling and checking on the livestock, my Mamaw Brooks asked my sisters what they wanted for lunch. They innocently asked for bologna (baloney) and my short, rotund mamaw clapped her hands and cackled, "Oh lordy, what on earth is bologna?"

My sisters apparently blinked back in utter shock. My mom then spent the next 15 minutes trying to explain that the girls had taken to eating bologna in Michigan, but my mamaw was unmoved. She just refused to believe such a thing existed. So they all hopped into the ol' Buick and headed down to the store (probably one of those hole in the wall stores, not the Piggly Wiggly, I don't think Tazewell had a Piggly Wiggly until after I was born in the 70s) where my mother introduced Mamaw Brooks to bologna. She remained confused as to the contents of bologna, but every visit after that one contained a roll of bologna for my sisters when they traveled South.

Keep in mind this is the same wonderful woman who, in the process of making meatloaf one year lost the bandage off her finger and it ended up in my middle sister's portion. My Mamaw didn't even miss a beat; "Oh, there it is!" She exclaimed. It's also been reported to me that she went through several pressure cookers (and several coats of ceiling paint) from blowing them up in the process of preparing green beans. Bologna was merely the tip of the iceberg.

My Mamaw passed away when I was about 6, so I didn't get to spend as much time with her as everyone else. But her stories keep me close to her, and I love experiencing the stories through my parents and sisters. Amid all our familial issues, this is one thing that seems to weave us all together.

Written by: Amy