Lloyd Hall cannot exist on bread alone. He must have tomatoes.
None of those imported hothouse tomatoes for him. He demands a juicy, ripe mater from Slocomb, Ala., a town near Dothan that is to tomatoes what Vidalia is to onions.
Hall is a simple man with simple tastes.
Forget those frou-frou sandwich recipes from Southern Living Magazine that call for avocados, lemon juice, ranch dressing, summer sausage, crunchy sweet bacon, arugula, goat cheese, basil, Sriracha hot sauce, mustard or balsamic vinegar.
Give him two slices of light bread, a couple of slices of Slocomb tomato cut thick, a dollop of Hellman's mayonnaise and Hall will create the basic mater sandwich -- one where most of the juice runs down your arm and the bread soaks up the rest.
"All I want is white bread. Don't give me any wheat bread or French bread. Fill it up with as much mayo as it will hold. Dash on some salt, maybe a little pepper and I'm ready to eat. I had six of them last Sunday," he said.
Hall sells real estate for a living, and in June he gives away tomatoes for fun. He has been driving to Slocomb and picking tomatoes at Aplin Farms for 15 years, the last four or five with his friend Rennie Bickerstaff.
"We get in Rennie's truck and pick up a couple of guys who do yard work for me. We spend two hours in the tomato patch and we're ready to come home."
The tomato patch is his mission field.
He spreads the unripe tomatoes in his garage and, when they're ripe, he delivers them with a smile, a jar of mayo and a loaf of bread.
Sometimes he gives them to strangers.
"I was coming out of a doctor's office a few years ago and this older lady was coming in as I was leaving. She could hardly walk. I went to the car and got a bag of tomatoes. I gave her a bag and told her she looked like someone who would enjoy a good mater sandwich. Her face lit up. You would have thought I had given her a hundred-dollar bill."
Hall knows that a mater sandwich makes his tummy feel good, but giving away something people love makes his soul feel good.
"This is my time of the year," he said.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at email@example.com