By Cappy Hall Rearick
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” ~Lewis Grizzard
I am so having a yo-yo day.
After spending the weekend in Atlanta living up to the “she shopped till she dropped” cliché, I hated to leave. But home is home, so I dragged my tired tush to the car, turned the ignition key and discovered my battery preferred to stay in Hotlanna.
I dialed AAA and was told by an underage operator that my husband had forgotten to add my name to his account after we got married. The fact that the wedding took place fifteen years before was of no consequence to the teenager who by that time was texting her BFF.
“But my car won’t start!” I didn’t know which one I wanted to throttle more: my long-ago groom visiting his sister in Pennsylvania, or the teenybopper popping gum in my ear.
After a pause that crawled into the next millennium, she said, “We cain’t do nothing ‘less he calls us to verify thangs.”
“Are you saying that what he has to do is listen to elevator music for thirty minutes along with you popping gum in his ear and you'll confirm my Triple A membership?”
I so wish I had hitchhiked to Atlanta.
I left an SOS on my husband's cell and then prepared to wait while reading, How To Love Yankees With A Clear Conscience. Eventually he called, so apologetic. In a take-charge voice, he said, "Keep reading your book while I call Triple A." He was about to impart the good news. Hallelujah!
“Get back to me in exactly five minutes, Babe,” I said, “or you will pay.”
Years later or so it seemed, he reported that AAA had refused to honor the card, but agreed to send out the troops.
“It'll cost twenty-five bucks.” He cleared his throat. “Forty, if they have to tow it.”
I was trying to find a game on my cell phone when a tall man with a Gabby Hayes beard suddenly appeared at my window and scared me into the middle of next week.
“Ma’am? Y’all need some hep?”
Standing there spitting tobacco on the pavement was a fine, upstanding Georgia gentleman whose mama surely raised him right. He was way happy to jump-start my battery. For free.
“I got a wife and four daughters and I sho’ wouldn’t want ‘em to have to wait on AAA.” His smile was lopsided. “They git lost, don’tchaknow.”
“Be sho’ to take this car for a full charge when you get home,” he added, “and tell ‘em to replace that raggedy belt or else you’re liable to meet your maker smack in the middle of I-16.”
Thinking Henry Ford might have been the Antichrist, I thanked my good Samaritan, quickly found a Pep Boys and shot in there like a silver bullet. They said I didn’t need a belt or a battery.
They could have made a sale, I mused, but they were considerate and honest. Thank you good ol’ pep boys and thank you, God, for letting me be born on polite Southern soil.
But when I tried to start my car, the motor wouldn’t turn over. I wasn’t going anywhere until those good ol’ boys replaced the battery they said I didn’t need.
“You gotta be kidding,” Babe shouted. “That battery was practically new. Still under warranty. Be sure to bring it home with you”
“I’m not putting a greasy, dead battery in my clean car, Babe. I paid Curley, Moe and Larry ten bucks to toss it.”
“Wonderful.” His Yankee sarcasm did not escape my sensitive Southern ears.
I crawled into my ailing car with the notched-up belt under the hood, (the one that could stop my clock on I-16. I was tired, frustrated and mad as a Georgia Bull Dawg after losing to the Gators.
But all was not lost. Friends in Atlanta had loaded me up with garden gifts. Tomatoes, folks. Red, ripe, juicy beefsteak tomatoes — Georgia jewels, precious as rubies.
In November we have the expectation of homemade holiday treats with walnuts, raisins and pecans to comfort us; in February, chocolate in all its glory gets us through dreary winter days. But in June, the homegrown tomato takes center stage. Unquestionably the star of all comfort foods, it is the mother’s milk of backyard gardens —Southern Comfort with the power to put the brakes on even a yo-yo day.
Cappy’s Tomato Pie Recipe
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie shell
5 large tomatoes, peeled, sliced to ½" thick
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 tsp. dried, or 3 T. fresh chopped basil
1 cup chopped onion
6 strips cooked bacon
Garlic powder to taste
1 tsp. parsley, chopped
1 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
Bake pie shell for 10 minutes at 375 degrees
Layer tomatoes in shell and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, and parsley.
Mix together mayonnaise, cheese and onions.
Spread mixture over tomatoes in pie shell.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Crumble bacon on top.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Cappy's first novel, "The Road to Hell is Seldom Seen" is available at Amazon.com in print as well as in Kindle.