by Malinda Dunlap Fillingim
Sometimes a girl just wants a simple sandwich with nothing fancy on it, just bites of goodness. That’s what I wanted one summer day after hiking at Hanging Rock. My old legs were telling me to rest and my stomach was telling me to eat. I listened to both and headed to nearby Priddy’s General Store, a landmark of Stokes County, to eat my favorite after hiking meal: a hoop cheese and bologna sandwich on white bread.
I have eaten these sandwiches for a long time, since I first discovered Priddy’s while driving around looking for answers every girl in high school ponders about her life. What will I become? Where will I live? What’s next in life? When will that pimple disappear? I drove my old VW Bug until I discovered Priddy’s. The old building built in 1888 remains a beckon for the county and the Priddy family has been serving customers since they took the reins in 1929.
I stepped in that store as a 17 year old girl amazed by all things good I found there. People were friendly; checkers were being played and argued on the front porch by old men who watched each other grow up and knew who cheated and who didn’t. I wandered around the store examining its contents like an anthropologist, happy to see so many things that I had known as a child, glad to learn of new things too. In the back, a few people were eating around shared tables. A sandwich was offered to me, a bologna and cheese one on white bread. I accepted and ate it with a bottle of Coke. I sat outside listening to the checker players and found myself siding with the winning team. It didn’t matter that I had never met them before, I got invited simply by being there, chewing away all that puzzled me about life.
That feeling of simplicity, plus the really good bologna and cheese sandwich, brings me back to Priddy’s year after year. I’m all grown up now, and many moons have passed since I first walked on its wooden floor. But going back now and examining its contents, old and new, eating bologna and cheese on white bread (wheat if you want) still gives me a feeling of belonging to a time when food was simply good, not having to be smothered by anything, not having to be pronounced with twenty syllables, and conversation the dessert.
Sometimes a girl, and a boy too, wants to bite down on something she can chew on a while, thinking about what really is important in life, what really feeds her with goodness and clarity. Sitting at Priddy’s chomping down on a hoop cheese and bologna sandwich gives me fuel to reflect on what a wonderful world we have here in North Carolina.
Priddy’s General Store
2121 Sheppard Mill Road
Danbury, NC 27016
Malinda Dunlap Fillingim had the good fortune to move to her step-father’s hometown, Walnut Cove, NC when she was in eighth grade. Curious by nature, Malinda asked Mama Dunlap so many questions about her cooking that she finally gave up some of the old recipes she carried in her head. Malinda is an ESL teacher at Cape Fear Community College and lives in Leland with her husband.