Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Henry Arthur Taliaferro, Jr. - RIP

I learned Sunday that I lost yet another of my childhood friends, Henry Arthur Taliaferro, Jr.

On formal occasions, he was known as Henry Arthur, but when formality isn't necessary, we called him HAT.
Somewhere around age 14 the friendship expanded to 'buddies.'  That kind of relationship meant that we hung out together a lot.  He lived just down the street from me.  The fact that he had a Willis Jeepster made being buddies even more fun because we could put a quarter's worth of gas in it and head to Hawthorn's Creek where there was a wonderfully cool swimming hole.
And sometimes we would even go to Jonesville where we could shoot pool in a real pool hall.  He always won and I didn't care.  He was my buddy.
Small town life went on and the two of us found ourselves as college students at Northeast Louisiana College in Monroe.  It was my first real 'away-from-home' experience.  We both liked to have fun so our academic efforts didn't pan out well.  
But I had joined the ROTC and really enjoyed being a Soldier, such as it was on a college campus. So we came to the conclusion that maybe we would be better off going into the Army.  Next thing we knew we were in Shreveport getting physicals and taking day-long tests.  We both scored high on the tests and the recruiter wanted us to fly to Dallas to speak with his boss.  That's where we learned about the Army Security Agency, the Army's version of the National Security Agency.  We liked what we heard and within hours we were on a bus headed north to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training. It was February 29th, 1960.  There was snow on the ground as we crossed into Oklahoma and all the way to Fort Leonard Wood.  There was still snow on the ground when we completed Basic Training eight weeks later.
We had joined the Army on the 'Buddy Plan.' We learned later that the Buddy Plan was some fictitious recruiting tool the Army used with great success. 
The two of us went back home to Louisiana to say our goodbyes one last time. Then we caught a train to Boston and a bus to Ayer, Massachusetts, near Fort Devens, ASA's training base.
A couple of days later Henry Arthur was given orders to Arlington Hall Station, ASA's Headquarters near the Pentagon where he would become an MP. He served there until his enlistment was over in 1963. I remained at Fort Devens and completed 058 and 055 schools before our entire class was sent to Fort Bragg in late 1960.
I only saw HAT one time while in the Army.  It was during the Summer of 1960 when I hitched a ride down from Fort Devens to DC and met him. He gave me the tour of the small, campus-like base. I was envious to say the least.
We never really got to see much of each other after that. We returned home after our enlistments were up in February 1963. He eventually took a job at the bank, married and settled into a comfortable, small town life. I decided that small town life just wasn't for me so I joined the Navy in December 1965 and was eventually ordered to the Philippines.  I remained there until I was discharged two years later.
I think Henry Arthur and I may have seen each other three or four times after that.
It was sad to learn that he died. He was only 76 years old. 
In my mind he was still my 'Buddy' in spite of the miles and years between us.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jefferson Eggfest

Wow! What a difference a year makes.

The first Jefferson Eggfest in 2014 pretty much got rained out, but in typical fashion, we Eggheads still had a great time just being with each other. We promised we would be back for the 2015 Jefferson Eggfest, and we were. And we're very glad we came. We had a wonderful time and raised some serious cash for the Jefferson-Carnegie Library.

We're home now, supposedly rested, and all gear and clothing almost cleaned and put away. Now the 'calm' sets in and we begin to wonder about 'what's next?'

Here are some 'getting ready' photos. It got busy later on and I didn't get a lot of photos. Perhaps others will share their photos.

Notice the nice shady trees. The shade works well

It was really a good time for us and our Egghead Friends. We had fun.

The town of Jefferson was once the second largest town in Texas, after Galveston. Steamboats regularly came and went bringing westward bound travelers and goods to the furthest point west and took back cotton and other stuff, at least until the railroad came.

Historically, it was a very significant place back in the day. Now, it has a population of just over 2,000 and one of the most impressive collection of historic mansions anywhere.

Instead of goods, the town now thrives on tourism, mostly on weekends. Tourists mix right in with the locals. Everyone there is friendly to the point of our thinking, "Why are these people so friendly?" But it's real and sincere without threat or asking you to spend more in their little town. They're just happy to have us there.

Of course, this year we Eggheads were more than welcome after our performance last year, in spite of the rain. The weather was perfect this year and we helped them raise well over $7,000 in funding for the Jefferson Carnegie Library. They were still counting the money when we left on Sunday. Also, the Big Green Egg dealer sold completely out of the 25 or so Eggs he brought, and took orders for more.

The crowd, still modest by today's Eggfest standards, really enjoyed themselves. None went home hungry. A lot of them asked questions about the Egg, what we were cooking and serving, the chat rooms where we get help when we ask for it, etc. I gave out all of my cards listing helpful information about the Egg, and people really appreciated them.

The area host dealer, National Wholesale Supply, said it is their intention to make the Jefferson Eggfest the number one Eggfest in the state. That's a big undertaking because two other Eggfests have well over a 1,000 paying attendees. And now we have the Houston Eggfest in the works. It has some heavy-hitter sponsors and supporters who will go all out to bring in many thousands of people who are more than willing to support the purpose of the Eggfest, to raise funds for the Texas Children's Hospital.

It's all about 'enthusiasm.' The more you have of it, the more things turn out for the better. And we Eggheads have a lot of it to spare and to share.

No matter what, it will be a great Eggfest next year and for years to come.

Judy and I served our ever-popular bourbon meatballs, along with about 10 pounds of beef skirt steak made into fajitas. All of it was delicious and got a lot of great comments from old and young alike. But there were all kinds of food being cooked and served, getting similar comments in the process.

So I guess we'll be going back next year, along with the Eggfests in Salado, Athens, Austin and Houston,. Yes, we're gluttons for punishment, both physically and financially. But it is always worth it.

There were a few thousand motorcycle riders in town for their annual Burn Benefit Drive that generates a lot of money for the Burn Center in Galveston. Yes, there were some awesome bikes there and the air was alive with bike sounds and music. If you're a biker, you should check it out next year. If you're also an Egghead, check us out too. Or better yet, come cook with us.

Thanks Jefferson, Texas for inviting us into your community, making us feel comfortable, and for appreciating our efforts. We will be back for more next year.

Coop Party/70th Birthday Party/Coop Fest

The Party's Over, It's time to call it a day...

Actually, the party has been over for a few weeks, September 5th, but the clean-up has continued for a few more days if you take into account all the leftover food we've been trying our best to 'dispose' of, calorie by calorie.

We used some of it at the Jefferson Eggfest on October 10th, but that's another post after this one.

By any standard, it was a great party from start to finish. And if you don't believe me, here's the video:

Coop Party - The Movie

Even the Meet & Greet party at El Palenque Mexican Restaurant & Cantina on Friday evening was a lot of fun for the 31 who were there. A couple of others arrived looking for us just as we all left.

One thing is for sure, Friday night's party wet the appetites of everyone for more fun. And they started arriving at the Chicken Ranch very early to get things going.

I could go on and on talking about the fun but I'll let the soon to be released video tell the story. Just hang in there and you will be able to enjoy it through photos...

For all of those who came to the Coop Party on Saturday, especially those who cooked and brought items to cook, eat or drink or talk about or share, thanks. There was certainly a lot of it and it was all very good. If you tried to count everyone, it would have been difficult because everyone was moving about so much trying to keep up with everything going on. But some estimates seem to agree that it was somewhere between 60 and 65. I hope I got all of them in the video.

It wasn't announced ahead of time but My Sweetie was also celebrating her 70th birthday that weekend. So it came as no surprise that there was cake and candles involved, as well as a few gifts.

And before you ask, No, I don't see another Coop Party in this lifetime...

But this one was fun...

Leroy and Judy
aka Spring Chicken and Spring Hen
The Chicken Ranch
Spring Texas USA