A little ‘Green Tomato Sandwich’ philosophy


It seems that America is about to run out of money. Again! I know what you are thinking… How can that be? What are they doing with the billions and billions we send in every week in income, luxury, estate, sin, gift, corporate, property, fuel, capital gains, pay roll deductions and various and sundry other taxes, including tariffs? And don’t forget the penalties and interest they collect if you are 10 minutes late…

There’s probably a secret subterranean Senate Committee meeting going on right now trying to firm up a bill that will tax breathing…. and left-handed pecan growers.

It’s all above my ability to understand. And apparently, we have borrowed all we can. But, of course, our government’s solution is not to pay the money we owe. Congress is going to vote to raise the debt limit. That doesn’t even sound legal. Or make any sense.

But believe me, the borrowing is going to continue. And no one in Washington counts in billions anymore. It’s trillions!

It seems to me it would be a lot simpler to pass a law that said you couldn’t introduce another bill in the House or the Senate until you had fully paid for the last one!

Our family is not unfamiliar with this exact situation. We ran out of money back home in 1955. Apparently, our debt limit down at the bank was zero. And we couldn’t vote ourselves a raise.

Daddy doubled the miles he was driving that old truck each week. Mom started selling Avon. Leon took a job down at the swimming pool. I went to picking up walnuts in Mr. Boaz’s backyard. David Mark was too young to work, but he cheered us on.

You think Dave didn’t play a vital role in our plight? Listen, the biggest problem in America today is there is no one here cheering us on.

We ate Spam and that awful pimento loaf stuff. And green tomato sandwiches. The key to eating a green tomato sandwich is to lift it up in such a manner as to keep it level with the ground; and finish it in a hurry. Before that bottom slice slides out between the bread!

We ate through our garden faster than Bugs Bunny on steroids. Dessert was cornbread crumbled into a glass of buttermilk.

But we never went hungry.

Dad was serious about that. It wasn’t the government’s job or business. Nor was it the neighbors or some stranger passing through. Dad wouldn’t take charity if you offered it. But he was always ready with a helping hand if someone needed it…

He didn’t confuse “wants” with “needs” or “pipe dreams” with “cold hard reality.” He mostly got up and went to work day after day after day…

In the vernacular of the Fifties, we “got along.”

And that is not to say there weren’t some rough moments. Mom made most of our clothes. She was quite the seamstress. And me, Leon and David knew full well that a store-bought shirt from the National Store cost as much as two dollars. Mom could buy enough material to make all of us a shirt for less than that.

There were a couple of drawbacks to our homemade garments. One was I had to go to school a lot of days dressed JUST LIKE my brothers. Good Lord, we looked like the Kingston Trio… years before there was a Kingston Trio!

And, as great as Mom was at sewing on pockets and front buttons, she was equally bad trying to attach the collar. She just couldn’t get that part right. So she left them off.

Our Kingston Trio outfits were collarless. It was a tad embarrassing at that age to be in a “different” shirt.

 ut we “made do with what we had.” It was a way of life with us… that has apparently expired today.

Here is the good news. Cynthia Wheat would still bring me cookies along with her million-dollar smile… whether there was a collar on my homemade shirt or not!

She didn’t, and we didn’t, seem to notice or sweat the small stuff back then. And the government didn’t make a big deal about pointing out our shortcomings. Or thought it was their obligation to “fix” us.

There is certainly no shame in being in debt or not having any money - most all of us have been there - what you do when confronted with those prospects is an altogether different matter.

In 1998 I saw Garth Brooks on TV in one of his many “sold out” concerts. He came on stage wearing a vertically striped shirt… with no collar! I kid you not!

It somehow vindicated my entire former life.

I called Cynthia Wheat immediately…




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