Tobacco Fields and BLT’s

by Leigh Walkup

I grew up on a big farm that was full of fresh vegetables, animals, and crops. Honestly, it was magical to grow up the way that I did. My parents owned a farm, and so did my grandparents, so farm life was all I knew for a very long time. 

As a little girl, I spent my summer days running barefoot through pastures, riding horses, helping my parents in the garden, collecting eggs from the chickens, and being 100% carefree. 

My father was a beef producer, and my parents also grew a lot of tobacco. Tobacco is a very labor-intensive crop, and it takes a lot of hands to take care of it. It was absolutely the norm to have farm hands around all the time. My mother spent just as much time in the tobacco patch as anyone else, but she also spent her time feeding all the people who came to help us. A lot of the time, she would make BLT sandwiches. Is there anything more summer than a BLT sandwich? A good juicy garden tomato, fresh leaf lettuce, crisp bacon, and mayonnaise slathered on both sides of WHITE bread takes me right back to my childhood.

We always had a huge garden full of tomatoes and lettuce, and we also butchered our own pigs, so we had plenty of bacon. BLTs were cheap and easy. My father always had his way of making them, and my Mom still talks about my father saying, “Judy, take two pieces of bacon, break them both in half and put three half pieces on each sandwich. THAT is the way it’s done.” He was very particular about his bacon-to-tomato/lettuce ratio. Ha!

Isn’t it incredible that a simple sandwich on a hot day can become such a profound memory in your life? To me, it was such a simple time. I’m sure my parents would tell you it was anything but simple and that it was a LOT of hard work.

But as a kid,  it was just about being around a group of people working hard, laughing over a simple sandwich, and taking a break from a long day. I cherish those moments, and I’m so thankful that my childhood was full of them. 

Every time I make a BLT, I think of my mom and dad and smile. I’m thankful that food has always been a symbol in my life. A symbol of a simpler time and one that I still think about today. Food provides us with memories that will walk with us forever if we take the time to listen. 

I hope you listen.

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