Sunday, June 21, 2009

BBQ and the Fourth of July-Happy Father's Day

One day in May or June during the sixties my dad brought home a 50 gallon drum that had been cut in half. The next Saturday we sat on the front porch just outside the carport with a host of screws, washers, nuts, and two hinges. That day I learned how to screw –how to hold the screw steady with a screw driver and turn the nut with a wrench or vice versa, whichever was easier, failure to work the two in tandem resulted in a lot of twisting and no tightening.

We hinged one part of that cut drum to the other in such a way that it opened liked a BBQ pit. We cut a little door on one end and fashioned a latch. This would serve as a damper. We then took some metal duct work and formed a stove pipe that we bolted to the top half. We found a can left over from supper and used as a damper. We fashioned a handle out of something I don’t remember. Perhaps it was wood or a piece of metal pipe or Ila Jane’s old baton. Either one would serve to lift the lid. We used the grates from and old frig for the grill. We fashioned a metal support to the bottom half in the front and the backside of the barrel to support the grill.

We attached the whole barrel to some sort of support that my dad had saved from the garbage man. I do not recall the support, but the BBQ barrel I recall quite well. I have seen similar BBQ contraptions all through the south and even in Gary.

On the Fourth of July that summer we invited the whole neighborhood over for a party. That homemade BBQ was filled with Royal Oak –the only kind of charcoal the old man would use. (I’m a Kingsford man myself unless I find Royal Oak then I’m tempted to switch).

My dad would use the door on the side opposite the stove pipe and the tin can on top to control the temperature of coals. On the grill he placed halves of chicken. As the chickens cooked he would baste them with his on special sauce. A sauce made with ketchup, mustard, tarragon vinegar and a quarter cup of whiskey added after the sauce boiled.

The chickens took some time so in the interim the kids were able to shoot off firecrackers. Mostly red fingers –not very powerful- but a few black cats if you were good. My dad kept the firecrackers in a coffee can and us kids had to go to him to get our supply. We had strict instructions to place the fire crackers on a brick or something else. Light them and run away. It was permissible to twist several firecrackers together and place them under a Maxwell House coffee can and see how high it would go. I put one in my mom’s gourd bird house and guess what…. It blew the bird house up.

We lived in the city limits of Little Rock and it was against the law to shoot off fireworks. So before the chickens were done we had a little visit from the Little Rock Police. They instructed us that we could not shoot off fireworks. All of us kids felt like we were in trouble and we better eat and go home quick. The policeman eventually wished us a happy fourth and left the backyard. He got in his car and turned around in the cul-de-sac then headed up the hill. As he headed up the hill my dad dropped his cigarette in the coffee can and all hell broke loose. The adults were jumping up and knocking over their lawn chairs and running for cover! The kids were scattering and swearing that the cops would be back. I am certain that was accident rather than an act of defiance. One thing’s for sure that chicken sure was good and my mom was more irritated at my dad than at me for blowing up her gourd.

Happy Father’s Day, Joe.

6 Comments:

OpenID gawilli said...

Another great remembering! Now I understand where you got that love for grilling, barbecue sauce, fireworks, hanging on to anything that might be turned into something one day, tinkering...and the list goes on! Happy Father's Day to you, too!

6:32 PM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Good transfer of mom power from the bird to the coffee can bang. Father's Day

8:28 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

A belated Happy Father's Day and Happy Independence Day to you. I imagine that you are planning to have some of that home-BBQed food today.

5:04 AM  
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Anonymous オテモヤン said...

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