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Doggone Good Baloney

Last month when we left the reporter, the flea-bitten dog, the baloney sandwich, and Frolic Fain’s meat-cutting machine, the conclusion to the story was promised in this month of thanksgiving.

While many will be serving up turkey and dressing, light rolls, cranberry sauce, and mincemeat pie a la mode, some of us will settle for something simpler and a lot less trouble. We purists prefer our baloney sandwiches to be plain without insulting mustard or distracting pickle relish. The purist of the pure even leave off the superfluous bread.

If you somehow missed Part 1 last month, try to find a copy and read it before proceeding. But if that’s not possible, the second half of the continued story will have four legs to stand on.

This true story is dedicated to Joe Creason, one of Kentucky’s beloved tall-tale tellers. Joe was born in 1918 in Marshall County, and died in 1974 in Louisville, where for many years he wrote a column for The Courier-Journal called “Joe Creason’s Kentucky.”

Joe was buried in Bath County, just a few miles from Plum Lick. It was Joe who’d told me about the man who made fantastic baloney sandwiches and who might be able to help me put some flesh on the bones of a television documentary I was doing for WHAS. At the time, the radio and television newsroom was located two floors up from Joe Creason in The Courier-Journal building.

Joe said, “Be sure to ask Frolic for a baloney sandwich.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re the best baloney sandwiches you’ll ever find anywhere. Tell Frolic how good his baloney sandwich is, and he’ll take good care of you.”

The first trip was a success. Baloney sandwich—great!

Second trip? Well, let’s tell it like it actually happened.

This sleeping, flea-bitten dog was quivering and snoring by the side of Frolic Fain’s grocery store at the crossroads of Caninesville in Barkley County (names made up to protect the guilty).

He was one of the ugliest dogs I’d ever seen in a lifetime of admiring all kinds of dogs. This was a scroungy dog. His ribs showed. When he breathed, little puffs of dust rose up and settled back down on his crusted nose. He was a Camelot for fleas—reminded me of an old crumpled throw rug that had spent more time outside the house than in it.

About this time, Frolic Fain returned in his pickup truck. At the sound of the engine, this good-for-hardly-anything hound jumped up like he’d been shot from a cannon or maybe just launched on a space mission to Mars. His target was the front door, and by the time Frolic had his hand on the knob, that dog had his crusted old nose snug up to the crack in the doorjamb. His nose vibrated like a dust devil, throwing off tiny, fine flecks of dog powder shimmering in the sunlight, slanting across the tree tops, finding their home of homes on Frolic Fain’s doorstep.

When Frolic opened the door, that dog took off running down the front of the counter like he was at the head of the stretch at the West Memphis dog track. He was going and blowing. He rounded the counter corner, all four legs tangling and untangling. He headed up the backside of the counter like a dog who knew where he was headed on the day that was meant to be and had finally come to pass.

He was going full-tilt until he reached the meat-cutting machine.

That’s when he threw on the brakes.

He jumped up, put both scrawny front paws on the edge of the meat-cutting machine, and licked the whole thing, clean as a whistle.

Frolic Fain smiled and said, “Bet you want another baloney sandwich.”

I smiled back and said, “Yep, reckon I do.”

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