When I was a kid, I was like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. But instead of mice following me around, I had dogs tracking me.

There are two logical explanations for this phenomenon. I was so skinny that the pooches probably thought I was a moving collection of bones contained in a polo shirt and overalls.

(For the many people younger than me, overalls were what we called jeans before they started costing $100 a pair.)

A more likely explanation is that I smelled of meat. Friday was the only day when our kitchen was meat-free, and that was due to the former Catholic practice of not eating meat on that day.

That was when we usually dined on a real treat - pizza. Sometimes, though, it was more trick than treat when we kids went into the kitchen and fish sticks were on the menu.

This was a less appetizing way of going meatless since fish sticks certainly don't qualify as meat. I'm not even sure they qualify as fish.

Dad started every other day with eggs and some sort of breakfast meat. Bacon was the usual choice, but sometimes he would fry up a pan of scrapple. I think that technically qualifies as meat, but I am afraid to look too closely at the ingredients it contains. I know it starts off with pork parts mush, and I don't want to know anything more about it.

We kids avoided scrapple even if it had the added advantage that we got to pour maple syrup on it to kill the taste.

My brothers, sister and I were more like weekend breakfast meat eaters. Our mom was in charge of the morning meal on those days. This made a big difference.

Dad was a fairly fair fryer, while Mother excelled at whatever she cooked, even something as basic as bacon and sunny-side-up eggs.

Now, she wasn't one of those cooks who would create a "smiley face" breakfast in which two fried eggs served as the eyes and a piece of bacon was the artery-clogging smile.

Mother didn't have time for that. She was too busy trying to keep ahead of my brothers and me - food-devouring locusts in PJs. Our sister ate her breakfast in the intervals when we guys would have to stop eating long enough to breathe.

When we came home from school for lunch, we almost always had cream of tomato soup and a sandwich of cold cuts. (I may be wrong, but I believe that is how lunch meat got its name.)

There seemed to be a variety of ham lunch meat for each day of the week. We would eat ham that was minced, boiled, chopped, spiced or honeyed - although usually not all at the same time.

Summer sausage or Lebanon bologna occasionally made its way into the luncheon menu, but the sight of pimento loaf would clear the kitchen faster than a call for volunteers to wash and dry the dishes.

Supper (known to most Americans as dinner) featured a select variety of meats. However, ham cold cuts (or pimento loaf) were not included for obvious reasons.

This was years before nutritionists tried to palm off tofu as a meat substitute. Our Uncle Manfred used to tell us that "tofu" was a foreign word that meant "where's the beef?"

Mother was as diligent as she was talented when it came to cooking, so she was able to do the near impossible and serve up enough meat that we could usually get a second meal out of the leftovers.

The sole exception to this trend was a meal of liver and onions. There was never enough for a leftover meal. This was not because we ate so much of the stuff; it was because Mom considered herself fortunate if we would eat a bare minimum of liver.

But the other meats found new life as leftovers or, as Mother put it, previously enjoyed meals.

Sunday's baked chicken would reappear on Tuesdays, magically transformed into chicken a la king that could be eaten plain or atop homemade waffles.

(Mom generally did not offer the waffles option because if she did, we would just put powdered sugar on the waffles and the chicken a la king would not get eaten.)

Sunday's roast beef was delicious, but sometimes it was even tastier when it showed up in hot roast beef sandwiches.

There was also the Kozlowski Rule of Meat Leftovers: The fewer times a year a meat was served, the more it was served as leftovers.

It seemed as though we would be eating turkey leftovers from the day after Thanksgiving until the night before Christmas.

Easter ham lasted a heck of lot longer than our Easter candy did. Some years, it seemed we were grilling Easter ham on Independence Day.

My favorite leftover meat was my Uncle Vladimir's homemade, garlic-filled kielbasa. I think the garlic got stronger with age.

I still might have been followed around by a pack of dogs, but with that much garlic on my breath I didn't have to worry about vampires.

(Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)