COLUMN: Just another way of saying “olive” to you
When you’re a 16-year-old boy and the calendar says it’s around Valentine’s Day in 1965, you’re convinced you have the world by the duck’s tail.
After all, you play rhythm guitar in a garage band. It’s pretty cool. You hold the car keys and have a full tank of gas
There is only one thing missing for your life to be complete.
In his hometown of Fort Valley, Dennis Herbert later became known as “Rock”. He took over the family’s Main Street jewelry store.
Rock was definitely ready to ride one day when a friend asked him if he wanted to ride from the peach orchards of Fort Valley to the strawberry fields of Taylor County.
His buddy was seeing a girl in Reynolds, and Dennis was invited to go with him and meet her sister. Although the younger sister was sweet and pretty, Dennis couldn’t take his eyes off Peggy Childree.
Turns out Peggy had an eye for him too, Cupid’s arrows were flying like it was an archery range. A month later, when his friend started dating another girl, Dennis picked up the rotary phone and dialed Peggy’s number.
They had their first date on March 13, 1965. They went to the movies in Macon, then headed to Shoney’s for strawberry pie.
Even though it would be five years before they were married, Peggy was already ticking all the boxes on the premarital test.
But would she eat an olive sandwich?
One afternoon his mother, Mary Herbert, asked if they wanted a snack.
A sandwich would be nice, Dennis told her. But not thanks to standard baloney or peanut butter and jelly.
” What will you eat ? asked Peggy.
You won’t find olive sandwiches on many restaurant menus. Although some people have been known to arrange olives on their fancy charcuterie boards or put them in their martinis, they don’t usually place them strategically on their sandwich bread.
When he was growing up, olive sandwiches were practically one of the main food groups for Dennis. His mother took two pieces of white bread, brushed them with mayonnaise and lined the green olives – stuffed with chili peppers, of course – in single file. His grandmother also put them together in a linear fashion and made them even more special by cutting the bread crusts.
“I thought everyone was eating them,” Dennis said.
Not Peggy. Her family served pickles and green olives on a plate whenever they cooked burgers, but they could never have imagined olives planted like row crops on a slice of Sunbeam.
“I was wondering why they messed them up with mayonnaise and bread,” Peggy said. “Why not just eat them?”
At her future mother-in-law’s table that day, she took a bite. And another. And another.
Dennis said, “That’s when I definitely fell in love with her.”
For Peggy, it may also have been her way of saying “olive” to you.
In July, the Herberts will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary. Although olive sandwiches never became a permanent tradition, they do at least make a good story.
No, they didn’t force-feed them with their daughters, Jana and Lauren. An acquired taste has not become a required taste.
“I tried, but they couldn’t get the idea,” Dennis said. “I told Jana she couldn’t go to college unless she tried one.
Then he laughed. ” She did it. But I don’t think she’s had one since.
Even Peggy slowed down her olive sandwich consumption.
“Now she’s just as happy not to eat them,” Dennis said.
Peggy said: “I don’t eat them every time he has one. But maybe I will…for Valentine’s Day.”
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.