Paris Goodnight: Ready Ray and tomato sandwiches

Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

Back when my knees would work a lot better than they do these days, I used to do a lot of biking with a friend we called Ready Ray. It didn’t matter how hot it was in the summertime, before we had gotten our drivers licenses, if we wanted to get to a basketball court for a pickup game or head out on some other adventure, we had to pedal it.

We also didn’t always do what we were supposed to in those days, but we generally stayed away from the kind of trouble we might get into at other times, say when hanging out with those South Rowan boys.

One day, our biking trek took us by my old Aunt Myrtie’s house. I’m not exactly sure how it came about, but I think I just knocked on the door to see if she was home to say hello. But she welcomed us in with the biggest smile you ever saw and had an ice cold tea set in front of us in no time. She also told us she’d be happy to make us each a tomato sandwich.

Now I have to admit at this time in my life, tomatoes of any variety were not something I ate. I didn’t really relish the idea of such a sandwich, but I’m sure in the summer heat and after the miles we had just put in, I wasn’t going to turn down an offered lunch.

She promptly cut one of those big juicy tomatoes that would cover a slice of white bread nicely — and then she added the secret ingredient: a slice of cheese. I’d never had that on a tomato sandwich, but with a nice dollop of Duke’s mayonnaise — what other kind is there really? — Ready Ray and I enjoyed the best meal two young fellers could ever ask for.

And since that day I’ve never missed a chance to enjoy a good tomato sandwich. I also look forward to putting a few plants in the ground each spring, following the tradition of my dad and his dad in raising their own backyard crop.

It’s getting a little closer to that planting time again each day as the temperatures rise little by little. So I’m getting excited already.

I even had a young son of mine who grew up requesting tomato sandwiches for breakfast when the season was right. Can you imagine such a thing? I couldn’t.

Now when we got a little older, we weren’t out riding bikes any more, and some of the things Ready Ray did with his dad’s truck probably weren’t good for gas mileage or keeping the tread on the tires in as pristine a shape as when we started.

Of course in those days, Kannapolis didn’t have any such thing as a downtown social district and was dry as could be until you crossed that county line into southern Rowan.

But me and Ready Ray never had to worry about being pulled over for having something purchased across the line from Cabarrus County, like I may have had to when running around with those previously mentioned South Rowan boys.

Of course, Aunt Myrtie is long gone from her place in Kannapolis, and I haven’t seen Ready Ray in a lot of years now. I don’t know that he remembers those miles we pedaled the same way I do. But maybe he still enjoys a good tomato sandwich every now and then.

Paris Goodnight is interim editor of the Salisbury Post.