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Mack Williams: Mailed pimento cheese and some McCombs

Mack Williams

After reading Kent Bernhardt’s enjoyable article about his pimento cheese addiction, I had an overwhelming compulsion to acquire some of that wonderful product of McCombs and Company again!
The name “McCombs” has special meaning for me! When hearing it, I think first of my old high school friend Steve McCombs who later on became a pharmacist, then an M.D.
In school, Steve introduced me to The Moody Blues, whom my own family and I once saw in concert so close that I could see the glint of the big bejeweled ring on lead singer Justin Hayward’s finger.
I will never forget that wonderful, sonorous deep bass speaking voice of Steve’s father, Lawson. Mr. McCombs said in World War II he would ask a fellow G.I :”Have you heard of Sidney Blackmer?” If the G.I. were ignorant of Broadway and the movies, Mr. McCombs would set him straight about that local thespian who had gone on to great heights!
Steve’s mother was a diminutive, delicate-looking lady; but even though seemingly delicate, I think she was equipped with that toughness of soul also belonging to my mother, Lorraine Williams and next door neighbor, Mary Ruth Ritchie. Theirs was a gentle toughness (more substantive than the rude toughness evinced by Marjorie Main’s portrayal of Ma Kettle)!
Just now, the recent death of Jean McCombs, comes to mind. Her daughter Pam (Steve McCombs’ first cousin) was a schoolmate of mine at East Rowan, and beautiful like her late mother.
And while on the subject of “McCombs,” I have to mention Rick McCombs of Salisbury’s Sidewalk Deli. Although possibly not related to the Faith branch, Rick evidently wound up with a “making delicious food gene” similar to the McCombs’ “making delicious pimento cheese gene!”
And then there’s the sweet lady, Ms. Blaylock of McCombs and Company whom I called to purchase their pimento cheese by mail.
I had a most delightful talk with with Ms. Blaylock about pimento cheese,the McCombs, and The Moody Blues. She said she loved the “Moodys” too! Ms. Blaylock said Steve was back for his aunt Jean’s funeral. Then we talked about how sad it also was to recently lose former East Rowan principal Thomas Joe Lyerly.
I now consider Ms. Blaylock to be an Honorary McCombs, since on that recent day, McCombs and Company pimento cheese became the “mortar” which cemented our bricks of conversation and memory (a more substantive mortar than some brands of “slimy goo” which pass for pimento cheese).
I had to go back just now and make a correction, since I had spelled “pimento” as “pimentoe” (“toe” is a different kind of cheese).
Ms. Blaylock said that with the special styrofoam box and ice packs, the cheese would make it to Danville in fine, cold shape!
A couple of days later, the cheese, in its special cooler was on my doorstep. It was packed in a huge, packaging-tape sealed, yellow Dukes Mayonnaise box, with “Dukes” in giant letters (the size that yard-sale sign letters should be).
Being a Southerner, there was no shame in seeing that Dukes Mayonnaise “ad” on my front porch (radio advertisements for certain male “growth” products say they arrive in boxes with no wording at all).
That cheese was cold, and delicious as before. I called Ms. Blaylock and she told me how much for which to write the check, saying she was in no pressing hurry to receive it.
A few days passed, and I made sure to mail my check. I didn’t want Ms. Blaylock to be sitting with friends while reading the Salisbury Sunday Post Lifestyle section and remark: “O yeah, here’s that Williams guy who stuck me for some pimento cheese a while back!”

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