Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Happy National Bologna Day

on October 24, 2014

From All About the Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren

 Chapter 18 – Anna and I go shopping

The shop where we buy sugar and coffee and things like that is in the big village, close to the school.  When Mother needs some groceries she usually asks me to get them for her after school.  But during the summer holidays we have to make a special trip.  One day Mother said, “Lisa, there’s no help for it.  You’ll have to run down to the shop for me.”

It was a beautiful day and I thought it would be fun to go shopping, so I said, “Of course, I’d love to.  What do you want?”

Mother said we’d probably better write a list.  But we couldn’t find a pencil, so I said, “Never mind.  I can remember it all.”

Then Mother told me all the things I should buy:  six ounces of yeast and a piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality, a package of ginger, some sewing needles, a tin of anchovies, a bag of almonds, and a bottle of vinegar.

“I’m sure I’ll remember it all, “I said.

Just then Anna came rushing into our kitchen and asked me if I’d like to go to the shop with her.

“Yes,” I said.  “I was just going to ask you to come with me.”

Anna was wearing her new red cap and carried a basket on her arm.  I put on my new green cap and took a basket on my arm too.

Ann was going to buy soap, a pound of coffee, two pounds of sugar, and two yards of elastic tape.  Also she was to get a piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality, just as I was.  Anna hadn’t written down what she was going to buy either.

Before we left we went up to Grandpa’s room to ask if there was anything he needed from the shop, and he asked us to buy him some barley-sugar and a bottle of camphor liniment.

Just as we were leaving through the gate, Olaf’s mother came running out on to their porch.

“Are you going to the shop?” she called.

“Yes,” we said.

“Oh, please would you pick up a few things for me?” she asked.

We said we’d love to.  She wanted us to buy a spool of white thread, number 40, and a bottle of vanilla essence.

“And wait, what else was it I wanted?” she said, looking thoughtful.

“A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality?” I suggested.

“Yes, that was it,” said Olaf’s mother.  “How could you guess?”

Then Anna and I left, and we were a little worried for fear we wouldn’t be able to remember everything.  First we recited all the things to each other out loud, but we soon got tired of that.  We walked along arm in arm, swinging our baskets back and forth.  The sun was shining and the trees smelled good.  Then we made up songs about what we were going to get.  We sang as loud as we could, “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality.”  It sounded quite pretty.  This is the way we did it.  First I sang, “A piece of Bologna sausage,” in a slow, romantic melody, and then Anna struck up, “Of the best quality, of the best quality,” in a fast, happy tune.  Sometimes we sang the words in a melody that was good to march to.  But finally we settled for one that was sad all the way through and very beautiful.  It was so beautiful that we almost began to cry.

“My, how sad it is about Bologna sausage,” Anna said when we finally reached the shop,.

There were a lot of people in the shop so we had to wait a long time, really much longer than we should have, because grown-ups seem to think that it doesn’t matter how long children have to wait.  They always push ahead.  But finally Uncle Emil himself came out into the shop.  We know him.  He started to ask how everyone in Bullerby was, and if we had eaten lots of eggs at Easter, and if we weren’t going to get married soon.

“We certainly are not,” we said.

“And what to the ladies wish to buy today?” asked Uncle Emil.  He always talked silly like that, but I like him all the same.  He has a pencil behind his ear and a little red moustache.  He always treats us to aniseed balls that the keeps in a big jar.

First Anna told him everything that she was supposed to buy for her mother and for Grandfather.  Uncle Emil weighed everything and wrapped it in packages while Anna talked.

Then it was my turn to tell him everything I was going to get for Mother and Olaf’s mother. Both Anna and I thought as hard as we could so that we wouldn’t forget anything.  Uncle Emil gave us two aniseed balls apiece, and we left.

When we had walked as far as the fork in the road where we turn to Bullerby, I said, “Anna, do you remember if I bought yeast?”

Anna couldn’t remember at all.  We started squeezing all the packages in my basket.  There was nothing that felt like yeast.  So we had to go back to the store.  Uncle Emil laughed at us and gave us the yeast and some more aniseed balls.  Then we left.

Just as we came to the fork in the road again, Anna cried, “Grandpa’s camphor liniment!”

“I’ve never seen the like,” I said.

There was nothing we could do but go back to the store.  How Uncle Emil laughed at us!  He gave us the camphor liniment and still more aniseed balls.

When we came to the fork in the road the next time Anna looked so frightened that I felt sorry for her.

“Lisa,” she said.  “I’m almost sure that I didn’t buy any sugar.”

“Anna,” I said, “don’t tell me that you didn’t buy the sugar.  You simply must have bought the sugar?”

We squeezed and squeezed the things in Anna’s basket, but there was nothing which felt the least bit sugary.

Uncle Emil almost fell across the counter when he saw us again.  But he gave us the sugar and still more aniseed balls.

“I’d better get out a spare jar of aniseed balls,“ he said, “Because my whole stock is disappearing.”

“Don’t worry, we shan’t come back any more,” Anna said.

Just before we came to the fork in the road again I said, “Anna, let’s run past the fork.  It’s the only way to get by.  Otherwise we’ll think of something else that we’ve forgotten.”

So we ran by the fork.

“It worked!” said Anna.  At last we were on our way home.

“Let’s sing a little more,” said Anna.

We did.  We started with “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” and it sounded just as beautiful and sad as before.  Anna said that we ought to introduce that song at school and sing it at speech day next year.  We sang and sang and sang while we struggled up the hill towards Bullerby.

And then – just as I bellowed “A piece of Bologna sausage,” extra beautifully – Anna took me by the arm and looked absolutely wild.

“Lisa,” she said, “we haven’t bought any Bologna sausage!”

We sat down by the side of the road and didn’t say anything for a long while.  Then Anna said that she wished no one had ever invented Bologna sausages.

“Why can’t people eat frankfurters instead?” she said.

My, how long the road back seemed this time.  We didn’t sing any more.  Anna said that she did not think that song about the Bologna sausage as at all suitable to sing at school.

“No,” I said, “not at school and not any other place either.  What a ridiculous song!”

When Uncle Emil saw us he held his head, and then he ran to get a new jar of aniseed balls.  But we said that no, thank you, we didn’t care for any more aniseed balls.

“Really?” said Uncle Emil. “What do you want then?”

“Three pieces of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” we said.

“If there is such a thing as good Bologna sausage,” Anna  muttered.

We dragged ourselves homeward.  But when we came to the fork in the road, Anna looked back and said, “Look, there comes John from the mill, driving his ugly old tawny mare!”  John works in a mill that lies on the other side of Bullerby.

“May we have a ride?” we cried when John has caught up with us.

“Jump right in,” said John.

We jumped up on the flour sacks and rode all the way to Bullerby.  I started humming, “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” but Anna said, “If you sing one more word of that song I’ll push you off the wagon.”

When I came into the kitchen, Mother said, “Goodness, Lisa, what a long time you’ve been gone!”

“No wonder,” I said.  “With all that Bologna sausage to buy.”

When Mother has taken all the things out of the basket she said, “That was a good girl who remembered everything!”

Copyright 1961 by Astrid Lindgren

One of my absolute favoritesThis was one of my very favorite childhood books. And bologna is kind of a quintessential childhood food, isn’t it?  May I suggest that at some point today you relive one of your own happy childhood memories and have something tasty to go along with it?


6 responses to “Happy National Bologna Day

  1. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    You should add something to the post to tell people that all this was normal before WW3. Rhar’s when retailers used grease pencil to mark prices, they were that stable.

  2. Mrs. C says:

    What a cute story! Thanks for sharing it.

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