I have a love affair with country ham and the guy who wraps it

Roy Anders, Ham Handler

I have a love affair with country ham and THE guy who wraps it.

It is no secret that one of my favorite destinations of all times is Ronnie’s Country Store in Winston-Salem, N.C.  When I moved to town in the late 70’s, the store was known as “W.G. White and Company” – founded in 1925.  In 1994,  Ronnie Horton bought the store from the White family; but the county health department came down hard … “Sorry, son,  but you need to bring the store up to code”.  And thanks for the outpouring affection of Winston-Salem residents and one local Senator Ham Horton (no relationship to Ronnie), Senator Horton introduced and passed a special bill in the North Carolina legislature to allow Ronnie’s to remain as it always was.  The law became known as “Ham’s Law.”

For your approval …

Now with THE guy, there are rituals which go with the purchase.  First, THE guy will always perfunctorily hold up the first slice for the customer’s approval (usually just a nod is needed) before he would cut the next.  Next would come the weighing; and then the magic would start –  the wrapping.

What makes it magical for me, are THE guy’s hands – hands that one would expect to be those of a venerable farmer who has spent his life outside.  His bent fingers have never been very nimble but there is a calculated movement in each meticulous and intentional fold of the butcher paper that keeps the flavors safe inside until the customer gets home.

After 38 years of being a loyal customer and never hearing anyone address another by their first name, I finally introduced myself to Ronnie Horton, the proprietor.  I asked him, who is THE guy that cuts your ham.  His name is “Roy Anders and he has been working for me for more than 20 years; and every Sunday you can find him leading the choir at Freedom Baptist Church in Rural Hall.

I think now that I might have a church.

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