Mack Williams:  Five thousand tomato sandwiches

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2022

Earlier this year I was invited to another rural church where I sang an old favorite from one of those “little brown books,” well known for being repositories of the “good old hymns!” In order to match the color of the book, I wish I could say the church was a “Little Brown Church in the Vale;” but it wasn’t, it was bigger, and constructed with what might be referred to as: “wolf-safe” red brick. And to be specific, the brick was a rich red, like that of a ripe heirloom tomato (but more “tomato talk” later).

I had a pleasant drive out there the day before for a run-through with the organist and sound check with the sound man (in addition to pastor, youth pastor, choir director, and organist, most churches nowadays also have a “sound man”).

I passed a couple of little country stores, the kind where men sit around and unknowingly prove they are well-versed when it comes to the art of gossip.

On the way, I spied a “Town Clown” ice cream truck parked unattended in someone’s car port. I immediately said to myself: “So this is where the Town Clown lives! “( or more appropriately: “Where the person who drives the Town Clown ice cream truck lives!”).

Arriving at the church, I waited for the organist and sound man, since the church doors were locked.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of a rather loud motor approaching, the kind of motor which says: “Incoming young people!”

I was almost taken aback when a man and woman, at least as old as me (71) came up in a vehicle, which to the best of my descriptive aptitude, would be referred to as: “A car frame with motor, radiator, etc. with roll bars and seats!” Since all of the operating parts were fully exposed, you might say the motor was mostly “air cooled!”

This senior couple, living the “good life” were the organist and her husband, the sound man. They told me that with the purchase of this vehicle, they had “entered their second childhood!”( I said to myself that I had also sort of “started over” with my double-hip replacement several years ago).

The sound check went well as I sang and the organist played. Her husband so regulated the microphone that nowhere through it all did I hear even one explosive consonant (sounding like a puff of wind hitting a TV newsman’s mike when it’s unprotected by a foam windscreen cover).

My solo went well that Sunday. At the Service’s conclusion, the pastor invited the congregation to partake freely of the great bounty of his homegrown German Johnson tomatoes, amassed in plastic bins and baskets along a hallway leading to the side exit. These tomatoes were so red, they made me feel they should be named “Red Delicious” (like the apple). A stack of used Food Lion, Family Dollar, and Dollar General bags were stacked, at the ready.

Leaving with my bag of German Johnsons, I paraphrased some Scripture in my mind (no sacrilege meant, just tongue-in-cheek): “And afterwards, there were 12 baskets of tomatoes and 12 baskets of sliced bread left over, along with a great quantity of the packets of Duke’s Mayonnaise!”

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