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Belly Waddin' Lunch
by Newt Harlan

One of the things I’ve retained from my East Texas, Southern upbringing is an occasional craving for what we called a “belly waddin’ lunch.” Belly waddin’ was what cowboys and oilfield hands called something that wasn’t an actual substantive meal, but only something to ward off hunger pangs until you could eat some “real” food.

Back in the days before fast food joints were on every other corner, almost everyone who worked away from home carried a lunch. This usually consisted of either leftovers from the previous evening’s meal or a couple of baloney sandwiches, a bag of chips and a package of cupcakes.

There were occasions when you couldn’t bring your lunch from home. Either there were no leftovers, you forgot to buy lunch meat when you visited the store, you overslept or you were feeling just flat-assed too hung over to bother fixing a lunch. That’s the day you’d eat a belly waddin’ lunch.

To make a belly waddin’ lunch you’d need to stop by the store on your way to work and buy a box of saltine crackers, a big onion and a couple or three of the following:

• A can of Vienna Sausage (pronounced VY-ee-nee)
• A can of Potted Meat
• A can of Deviled Ham
• A can of Spam
• A tin of Sardines
• A small stalk of Summer Sausage (sometimes called donkey dick)
• A chunk of rat trap cheese
• A dill pickle or two
• A small can of Pork and Beans
• A couple of Jalapeno peppers
• A package of Twinkies or Ding Dongs for dessert

Then when lunchtime rolled around, all you’d have to do is open your cans, slice your onion and chow down. Let me tell you, after a morning of building board roads, laying pipeline, working a bunch of cows or whatever, a belly waddin’ lunch was a feast. Every now and then several hands would pool their belly waddin’ and have a genuine banquet.


Newt tells us about himself:

I was born, raised and educated in Texas. With the exception of a few brief sojourns and the 4 years during the Vietnam Era that I spent riding around on airplanes courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, I've spent the more than 65 years of my life within spittin’ distance of the place where I grew up. I managed to cram a four-year college degree into nine years and by virtue of that remarkable feat, I am a former student of six different schools, which sure helps the odds of rooting for a winner in sporting events. The academic standards committee had a moment of weakness and I was the fortunate recipient of a degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

I'm Southern to the bone. The sound of “Dixie” being played gives me goose bumps and I stand and remove my hat. My yard dog, B.J., controls the squirrels, cats, meter readers and peddlers around my place. I’ve picked cotton by hand, plowed behind a mule, churned butter, shelled back-eyed peas, and for the first 12 years of my life, went without shoes from April until October. Several of my friends regularly hold conversations with mules, but as of yet I can’t get the danged mules to answer me. I think grits are as much a part of breakfast as bacon, eggs and cathead biscuits. I think ain’t is a perfectly good word and don’t plan to quit using it just because some damnyankee dictionary writer arbitrarily thinks it ain’t.

I've been married for 30-some odd years and have beaucoup kids and grandkids. I'm now retired after having spent the better part of the past 37 years traveling around Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi and Alabama, trying to sell steel products. My hobbies, in no particular order, include writing, grandkids, hunting, fishing and visiting the local watering hole to swap honest lies and research material for stories.

E-mail Newt at: Newt281@embarqmail.com

Want to read more of Newt’s stories at USADEEPSOUTH? Click these links:
Ol’ Red and the Armadillo
Telephones and memories
Tastes like chicken
Railroad Money
Basura Blanca News
Juicing Bovines
That's Entertainment ~ '50s Style!
Curing Colds
The Day the Hogs Ate My Little Brother
Humble, Texas
Southern Words
Railroad Fireman


Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.



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