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Dalton Roberts

Craving my first tomato sandwich, (hereafter referred to in the Southern vernacular as 'mater sandwich) a wonderful human being named Don Loftis, former superintendent of Hamilton County schools, brought us two baskets of tomatoes.

It was our intention to share some with friends, but we wound up eating them all.

Like any advanced educator, Loftis loves research and always grows many varieties of tomatoes. So we had a Russian tomato, a Goliath, but the majority were my favorite tomato, Beefsteak. Beefsteaks are those big ugly tomatoes that wrinkle around the stem. Their saving grace is a high acid content which is the most important taste factor in a 'mater sandwich. I have always said, "The uglier the tomato, the tastier the sandwich."

Before Don had left the driveway, we were munching on our first 'mater sandwich of the summer. Using one of those big Beefsteaks, Glenda put long, thick Beefsteak spears on Sara Lee white bread, slathered, as you know, with Miracle Whip.

Now don't you mayonnaise lovers castigate me over the Miracle Whip. I love the little acid bite of Miracle Whip, and I'll not make fun of you for your mayonnaise addiction if you'll cut me some slack over the Miracle Whip. I know Republicans and Democrats hate each other these days, but surely mayonnaise lovers and Miracle Whip slatherers can co-exist in peace.

I also have an addiction to Celtic sea salt. I have ordered it by mail for 25 years simply because of the great taste and health benefits. It has 13 minerals compared to one in regular table salt. I am pleased to report it is now available at Nutrition World on Lee Highway. Celtic salt sure wakes a 'mater sandwich.

One morning about 3 a.m., I dreamed little angels were flying around a huge Beefsteak tomato and Claude Jones was singing Guy Clark's "Home Grown Tomatoes" right in the middle of them. I woke up and naturally thought about our big basket of Beefsteak tomatoes, and it brought on a severe 'mater sandwich attack.

We just went downstairs and made ourselves a couple of 'mater sandwiches and a pot of coffee. It's so wonderful to live in a free country where you can eat 'mater sandwiches at three o'clock in the morning and not have to worry about a Secret Service agent slamming you against the wall screaming, "Oh! You were just eating a 'mater sandwich, huh? Listen, Buster ... do I look like the kind of fool who would believe any idiot would get up at three o'clock to eat a 'mater sandwich?"

Loftis comes from a long line of family gardeners and is a solid researcher, so I believe him when he says excessive rain hurt the taste of tomatoes this year. However, it certainly didn't hurt the taste of watermelons. We ate several and they were the sweetest melons I can remember. They also brought on a late night watermelon attack.

For years, I've corresponded with people who have strong preferences for a certain kind of bread for their 'mater sandwiches. I do understand that the plain white bread is supposed to be the unhealthiest, but I guess I am doomed to eat unhealthy bread during the 'mater sandwich season. We used Sara Lee white and Colonial Old Fashioned this year and both were equally tasty.

If there's any way to mess up a 'mater sandwich I haven't found it.

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