The following article by David Strange was originally published on 28 Jun 2015. It is archived here for your reading enjoyment.
In the 1950's, when I was a boy, Dad would sometimes drive the family to visit my grandmother in Danville, Kentucky. Those were the days just before modern highways came to be. The Kentucky Turnpike (later to become Interstate 65) was opened in 1954, but most other roads were still slow, old-style endurance tests. Come to think of it, "I-65," which travels right through the middle of Bullitt County, was built almost exactly one century after the previous "highway," the L&N Railroad, was built in 1855. But that is another story.
As part of our long road trip to grandma's, we would often stop at an old country store along the way for a baloney sandwich. As Dad says, "it was real near a tradition." I can still remember the creaking sound of the wooden screen door, with its colorful metal Rainbo Bread sign, as we walked in to order our lunch. An old-style screen door could make a startling "bang!" sound as it slammed behind you, if you weren't careful. Knowing how to handle those spring-loaded doors was sometimes the measure between a country boy and a city slicker.
Baloney sandwiches at such stores were things of beauty. The meat was hand cut, sliced nearly a half-inch thick, straight off the roll. The baloney was then placed on fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, soft white bread. On that was heaped a mountain of crisp green lettuce, slices of full-of-flavor home-grown tomato, and sweet pickles, finished with a squirt of tasty American yellow mustard and another slice of bread. This was wrapped up in slick white butcher paper and handed to the customer like it was a work of art.
Top that off with a Moon Pie and a glass bottle of Coke or RC Cola brought out ice-cold from the store freezer-box vending machine and you have perfection. It was better than the best steak dinner.
Those memories remained so strong that years later my friend, Ken Lone, and I even fantasized about creating a "B'loney Bin" fast food shop that would feature varieties of baloney on fresh bread, wrapped in white paper. Fortunately, I guess, we never quite made that leap.
Last year, my Dad and I stopped in at the Hardscratch Country Store near Columbia, Kentucky, and ordered us each a baloney sandwich, while we chatted with the friendly local folks. Friendly folks, of course, are a required part of country stores. The lunch was just like old times. The screen door even creaked.
Baloney, or even white bread, might not be good for you today. But it sure is good. For years I have stopped by the Bullitt County Supermarket to indulge in the luxury. Located at 167 Clermont Road, near the intersection of Highways 245 and 61 near Bernheim Forest, it is one of the last truly local old-style country stores that I know of. Tony Hawkins is the third generation of his family to own and operate that store, and Tony tells me that his children are quickly becoming the fourth, with an expansion store named Beech Grove Market at Beech Grove Road and Highway 61 on the south side of Shepherdsville.
At the Bullitt County Supermarket, Leslee Hardison and Jeanie Fendley recently made a sandwich for me, as they often do. The best baloney is Old Folks brand, "Old Fashioned Style." Every bite brought back memories of my childhood.
Boloney tends to stick in the mind, if not the stomach. While traveling in Ireland and Britain recently, a certain little sausage was served at most every breakfast. I didn't really like it as a morning sausage, but the texture and shape reminded me of a tiny roll of American baloney. Baloney, or more properly called Bologna, is of course a type of sausage itself, made of ground pork and other things that I hope to remain blissfully unaware.
It might be in the genes. My grandkids love baloney. It is a special treat for them when they go to visit my Dad, now their great-grandpa. And I keep a wooden screen door on my back porch for them as well. Everyone should have memories of baloney sandwiches and screen doors in summer.
Copyright 2015 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.