By STACEY PATTON WALLACE
It has always amazed me that my sweet Mama Barbara Patton (not the former mayor of Opelika) could get everything done and done so well: 1. taking care of a husband and three children, 2. working full time in the main office of Russell Mills in customer service (she had to handle angry customers from New York City on the telephone if a shipment was late, even though it wasn’t her fault), 3. attending Orr Street Baptist Church and serving in the WMU and various committees, 4. cleaning house and cooking (Daddy also helped) and 5. canning vegetables from Daddy’s garden in the summer.
I get tired just looking at the list, but then, I’m certainly not the woman Mama was. In fact, as I may have mentioned before in this column, the only day she didn’t cook was on Wednesday, when she went to get her hair washed, rolled and dried. Therefore, on Wednesday nights, Daddy would make his “Patton Especial,” or hot dogs.
Mama and Daddy loved hot dogs. When they retired and Mama didn’t cook as much (Daddy said he was glad when his children came home to visit because he ate better), they would buy Sneaky Pete’s hot dogs at a local convenience store in Alexander City (“Eleck” City to the locals). Boy, Mama and Daddy would sure have loved the hot dogs that Mike and I recently ate at Franky Junes Express.
Franky Junes Express is a food truck in our area. On the day we visited, it was parked at the Opelika Farmer’s Market on Pepperell Parkway. Lance and Maleta VanPevenage, who run the Express wagon, were so wonderful and helpful.
They told us that Rick and Karen Lanier own all three food trucks: Franky Junes Express, the Weeny Wagon and the Waffle Wagon. Franky Junes opened in 2021. On the business’s website, Rick, who was born in Opelika, explained the name of the business. According to Rick, the “Franky” part comes from the fact that hot dogs used to be called “frankfurters” or “franks.” June is in honor of Karen’s beloved mother, Irene “June” Uzzell of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who passed away in 2002.
While Mike and I were deciding what to order at Franky Junes Express, a young woman told us that she had just eaten the cheesy porker. It was so good, she had to order another one. Mike ordered a slaw dog, which came with mustard, ketchup and homemade coleslaw.
I was torn between two: the Old Fashion and the Chi-town. I finally decided on the Old Fashion, which had mustard, homemade chili and onion. We both ordered potato chips.
Oh, my two times; our hot dogs were outstanding. Next time — and there will DEFINITELY be a next time — I will order the Chi-town, which is a Chicago-style hot dog. My friend Shelly introduced me to Chicago dogs in Panama City, Florida. The Chi-town has tomato wedges, a pickle spear, mustard, onions, Chicago-style relish, celery salt and sports pepper. I know that sounds unusual, but it is really amazing.
Mike and I saw the Franky Junes Weeny Wagon at Auburn’s Mardi Gras parade in February.
We plan to try that food truck soon. Besides mouth-watering hot dogs, the Weeny Wagon also offers dog bowls, grilled sausages, 100% beef homemade corn dogs and fine tater tots, which I really love.
In addition, Franky Junes Waffle Wagon serves up chicken & waffles and dessert waffle bowls. Just the online pictures will make you salivate.
Go to www.frankyjunes.com or call 334-750-7832 to find where the Franky Junes food trucks will be on a particular day. Believe me, people of Lee County, you’ll want to jump on the Franky Junes wagons.
Franky Junes Express makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!
Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear every other week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at retired email@example.com.