Mayberry, Andy and Pork Chop Sandwiches
After writing two installments on the above named subjects, I find there are three more stories about "What It Was Was Football" I would like to relate. The response to the first two articles has been unbelievable so maybe you won't be too bored with these additional tales. The past two days have seen the heaviest traffic this site has experienced since it's inception on Oct. 14, 2000 so maybe there is hope for maintaining interest in the site during the "off season" after all.
I had a business associate once who moved to Virginia from "up North" and he seemed to be making a real effort to embrace southern culture even though some of his actions were suspect in terms of his sincerity. I tried to reach out to him and serve as his mentor in things southern. Not that I am an expert but I do feel that I understand the South and it's ways better than any Yankee.
One day we were discussing the AG recitation or monologue or whatever and the subject of a "big orange" came up. He said the words were "large orange" and I tried to correct him but he would not back down. I finally realized that if we continued to talk about whether it was "big" or "large", it was going to get out of hand. I searched for some way to make my point without having to tell him he was absolutely wrong. Finally, I said that to call a "big orange" a "large orange" would be akin to calling a "moon pie" a "lunar pie." From the look on his face I could tell I had scored a touchdown. As you might imagine, we soon started talking about other things. If I saw him today, I would be tempted to ask him to tell me about the "large orange." again. Somehow, I don't think he would try.
The second experience related to WIWWF occurred in a hot dog joint in Portsmouth, Va. When my traveling companion and I go into a strange place, we try to make it an adventure. We always ask the locals to tell us something about the area and sometimes it can be hard work to get some people to interact. They just aren't used to interacting with total strangers. We frequently tell them we are not selling anything and that generally loosens them up.
Well, when I ordered my hot dogs, for some reason, I told the waitress I wanted a "big orange" thinking that might bring a chuckle to the group sitting at the counter. I didn't see her while she was preparing the drink but when she brought it to me with the hot dogs, I almost fell in the floor. Friends, that was the biggest drink I have ever seen in my life. It was not in a cup but the container looked more like a bucket. I was too embarrassed to say anything but I can assure you I will never order another "big orange" until I know more about the actual size. Incidentally, the drink cost more than my two hot dogs.
The last story comes from a response received on a message board where I had informed viewers they might like to read WIWWF on my site. One viewer said he had been at a middle school recitation contest the night before and that his daughter had won. What did she recite? Why WIWWF of course. The father said his daughter had the audience in stitches and when she got to the line about the officials "odd manning", he thought he would fall out of his seat.
I'm pleased that I have brought back some pleasant memories for some and maybe introduced others to the way it used to be. You don't hear it much anymore but there was a time when we elders talked and heard others talk exactly like AG did in his "masterpiece." At some point in my life, I stopped trying to change the way I talked. It's in my roots and I'm proud of it. You ought to hear me when I run into someone who talks the same way I do. In fact, it has given me an idea. I think one of the subjects I will write on until we reach the Oklahoma game is "southernisms." I have enough for a couple of articles and someone sent me a terrific list just today.
Another hobby of mine is researching word and phrase origins and I plan to write on this subject also. I found a new one this week and I will bounce it off you. Where did the term "cup of Joe" meaning cup of coffee originate? If you think you know, either e-mail me or make an entry in the Guest Book Section.
Until the next time.
One of the things I have to guard against when I write about subjects other than UNC and related, is the temptation to exhaust the subject rather than casually writing about it. It has always been a problem for me and it is a problem when writing about Andy Griffith and related subjects. I am going to resist the temptation to give you every little detail I have learned about AG and his varied acting career by saying that if one is interested in knowing more about ole Andy, they should go to the web with "Andy Griffith" as the key word and search the subject. There is a lot of information available for those who might be interested.
Meanwhile, I will return to my original plan to post in it's entirety the words to "What It Was Was Football." I have been told two things neither of which have been confirmed but they are worth being passed on. First, I was told that AG did WIWWF for a civic group in Chapel Hill before the recording was made and it went over so big that those present arranged for him to perform the recitation at halftime of a Carolina football game. Second, I have been told that he performed at halftime of a UNC-South Carolina football game in Kenan in either '52 or '53. There is a problem with this in that the South Carolina games were played in Columbia in both of those years. Either the performance took place in another year or it was at a game other than a S.C. game.
I remember very well where I was when I first heard the recording. I'm not sure of the year but it probably was 1953 when I was stationed at McDill AFB, Florida and resided in St. Petersburg, Fla. I commuted from St. Pete to Tampa each day and one morning we heard the recording on the car radio while traveling across Tampa Bay. I was stunned by what I was hearing but I had no idea who it was or the location AG was "a-talking about."
When the recording was finished, one of my fellow commuters who were all yankees said to me, "He talks like you." I didn't make any effort to deny the accusation and immediately decided that I would find out more about the recording and the person who made it. The rest of the nation must have decided the same thing because WIWWF was an immediate hit and AG was on his way to becoming a star.
I now give you the words to the recording which were not easy to locate. I sure hope there is not a copyright problem here. Almost 50 years have passed since it first appeared and maybe AG will take it easy on me since we are fellow Tar Heels. We'll see. If I get into trouble, I may have to pass the hat.
What It Was Was Football
It was back last October, I believe it was. We was gong to hold a tent service off at this college town, and we got there about dinner time on Saturday. Different ones of us thought that we ought to get us a mouthful to eat before we set up the tent. So we got off the truck and followed this little bunch of people through this small little bitty patch of woods there, and we came up on a big sign that says, "Get something to Eat Here." I went up and got me two hot dogs and a big orange drink, and before I could take a mouthful of that food, this whole raft of people come up around me and got me to where I couldn't eat nothing, up like, and I dropped my big orange drink. Well, friends, they commenced to move, and there wasn't so much that I could do but move with them.
Well, we commenced to go through all kinds of doors and gates and I don't know what- all, and I looked up over one of 'em and it says, "North Gate." We kept on a-going through there, and pretty soon we come up on a young boy and he says, "Ticket, please." And I says, "Friend, I don't have a ticket; I don't even know where it is that I'm a-going!" Well, he says, "Come on out as quick as you can." And I says, "I'll do 'er; I'll turn right around the first chance I get."
Well, we kept on a-moving through there, and pretty soon everybody got where it was that they was a-going, because they parted and I could see pretty good. And what I seen was this whole raft of people a-sittin' on these two banks and a-lookin at one another across this pretty little green cow pasture.
Somebody had took and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it, and I don't know what all, and I looked down there and I seen five or six convicts a running up and down and a-blowing whistles . And then I looked down there and I seen these pretty girls wearin' these little bitty short dresses and a-dancing around, and so I thought I'd sit down and see what it was that was a-going to happen.
About the time I got set down good I looked down there and I seen thirty or forty men come a-runnin' out of one end of a great big outhouse down there and everybody where I was a-settin' got up and hollered! And I asked this fella that was a sittin' beside of me, "Friend, what is it that they're a-hollerin' for? Well, he whopped me on the back and he says, "Buddy, have a drink!" I says, "Well, I believe I will have another big orange. I got it and set back down.
When I got there again I seen that the men had got in two little bitty bunches down there real close together, and they voted. They elected one man apiece, and them two men come out in the middle of that cow pasture and shook hands like they hadn't seen one another in a long time. Then a convict came over to where they was a-standin', and he took out a quarter and they commenced to odd man right there! After a while I seen what it was they was odd-manning for. It was that both bunchesfull of them wanted this funny lookin little pumpkin to play with. And I know, friends, that they couldn't eat it because they kicked it the whole evenin' and it never busted.
Both bunchesful wanted that thing. One bunch got it and it made the other bunch just as mad as they could be! Friends, I seen that evenin' the awfulest fight that I ever have seen in all my life !! They would run at one -another and kick one- another and throw one another down and stomp on one another and griiind their feet in one another and I don't know what- all and just as fast as one of 'em would get hurt, they'd take him off and run another one on !!
Well, they done that as long as I set there, but pretty soon this boy that had said "Ticket, please." He come up to me and said, "Friend, you're gonna have to leave because it is that you don't have a ticket." And I says, "Well, all right." And I got up and left.
I don't know friends, to this day, what it was that they was a doin' down there, but I have studied about it. I think it was that it's some kindly of a contest where they see which bunchful of them men can take that pumpkin and run from one end of that cow pasture to the other without gettin' knocked down or steppin' in somethin'.
Don't blame me for the punctuation and spelling. It was the work of someone else. Try correcting all of the errors and, believe me, something will be lost. I just wish I could have captured in writing how AG pronounced words like "Saturday" , "eat chere" and "mouthful." Makes me homesick to even think about them.
I must admit I had never heard of a pork chop sandwich until about a year ago. I was raised in North Carolina and I have spent all my life, with the exception of several months, living somewhere in the South. But somehow, pork chop sandwiches and RamFanatic never crossed paths until I read a article in the newspaper about this sandwich being served in a place called Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy, N.C., the model for Mayberry of TV fame.
Snappy Lunch is operated by a gentleman named Charles Dowell who is the originator of the pork chop sandwich and is one of the businesses in Mt. Airy that was actually mentioned on the Andy Griffith Show. Mr. Dowell started sweeping floors in the Snappy Lunch in 1943 and became a partner in Snappy Lunch in 1951. It still operates much as it has always operated except that it now closes at 2:00 and is closed all day on Sunday.
Once I heard of pork chop sandwiches and Snappy Lunch, I knew I had to make the pilgrimage to Mt. Airy. I'm ashamed to mention that I had difficulty imagining the sandwich because never having seen one, I thought the bone would still be on the chop. Mrs. RamFanatic says I have "blind spots" and I have never argued the point with her. It gave me a problem visualizing the sandwich much the same as I had earlier with fish sandwiches. It just didn't seem right until I actually saw one.
Mr. traveling companion and I decided to make the trip to Mt. Airy even though it was beyond the distance we usually travel in one day. We rose early that day and left around 5:00 a.m. To give you some idea of how far we traveled that day, the total miles traveled was 540. We made it back to Richmond at a reasonable hour and it was a trip I won't soon forget.
First, let me say that we were treated like royalty once we arrived at Snappy Lunch. I guess it was a combination of the folks in Snappy Lunch learning that we had driven all the way from Richmond to sample the pork chop sandwich and the fact that my friend and I are rather friendly and we "sho ain't bashful." We try to engage everyone we encounter in conversation without being overbearing and almost without exception, the response of those we encounter is positive. Our trip to Snappy's was just like a trip to Mayberry and it couldn't have been scripted any better.
Snappy's looks pretty much as I had expected except that an addition probably makes it a little larger than it was originally. We ordered the pork chop sandwiches and neither of us could finish the plate we were served. The food was delicious but there was so much of it and the cost at the time was around $3.00. The batter for the pork chops is made every day as is the home made chili. The buns are steamed which to me is a necessity for sandwiches and they still make one of my all time favorites even though I couldn't hold one the day we visited, breaded hamburger. I won't go into it here, but that sandwich, probably more than any other, takes me back to my childhood. They were created out of necessity but they stay around (slightly) because they are good. If you've never had one, you have missed something special.
We thoroughly enjoyed talking with Mr. Dowell and the waitresses. It was just like we had gone back in time. The waitress told us that Oprah Winfree had been in the restaurant several days before we were there and this surprised me since, at the time, I watched the OW show everyday and I didn't remember seeing the visit to Snappy Lunch on one of her shows. I told the waitress I had missed it and she said she thought her brother had taped it and she would be glad to send me a copy if I would leave my address. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I told her I would be glad to pay for the cost of the tape and the postage, but she assured me there would be no cost. I thought people like this had passed on but obviously a few were left and I was glad. Several days after we returned to Richmond, I received the tape in the mail with a nice note saying there was no charge. Mrs. Ram and I wanted to do something to show our appreciation, but we didn't want to offend the waitress by sending money when she had told me twice there was no charge so we wired some flowers to her at Snappy's. She acknowledged them with another nice note and invited us to "come back to see them" whenever we could. I plan to do just that. The waitress told us while we were there that the television show "Current Affair" had been there recently and I asked what was the purpose of their visit. She said they were considering doing a segment on why Andy Griffith never visited Mt. Airy, but I don't think it ever materialized. I was flabbergasted to learn that AG never visited Mt. Airy but I later learned that it apparently is true and I learned the reason why. I may write about this at a later date.
There is too much to write about on the subjects included in the title in one article so I am going to have to make this a part of a series. I want to post the words to the Andy's first hit recording " What It Was Was Football" and that in itself is rather lengthy.
Until the next time.