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Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Pie Town Fair Barbecue of 1940

Pie Town, peacefully resting in Catron County, New Mexico was apparently founded as follows: Sometime in the early 1920's, Mr. Clyde Norman, a tall Texan and World War 1 veteran who "liked to bake", "broke down" on the side of the road and began making dried apple pies at his upstart business on a piece of ground that lay along a little rocky ridge and the "Coast to Coast Highway" later to become U.S. 60. The word got around that the best pies anywhere were to be found at "Pie Town" hence the name Pie Town.

In 1940, near the end of the Great Depression and just before the dawn of the United States' entry into World War II, a photographer named Russell Lee, an itinerant, government photographer employed by funds from Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, captured stirring photographs of the people of Pie Town. The images he captured are nothing less than national treasures. Here, I post some of the photos of the Pie Town Fair Barbecue of 1940 made available by the Library of Congress. The photographs need no commentary. The images tell the story better than any words ever could.

The Pie Town Community Church
Harvesting Corn
Main Street, Pie Town
Starting the Fires
Pinto Beans: Pie Town's Main Crop in 1940
Giving Thanks Before The Barbecue Meal
Slicing the Pies!
Serving up Pinto Beans
Barbecue Being Served
A Homesteader Feeding His Daughter at the Barbecue
The Crowd Enjoying the Barbecue
A Homesteader and his Children Enjoying the Barbecue

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day Barbecue

For over 125 years people have been gathering in Punxsutawney, PA to celebrate the amazing weather forecasting talents of one Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby. The day is filled with a festive surrounding of good food, fun, friends, and family. The most amazing thing about Punxsutawney Phil's ability is not that he only exercises his weather prognostication talents for a few brief seconds  on the second day of February each year. The truly amazing thing about Punxsutawney Phil is that he is a groundhog with weather forecasting talents.

Early in the morning on the second day of February each year, Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his hole. If he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he is predicting six more weeks of winter weather. If Phil doesn't see his shadow, he has predicted an early spring. That's pretty much all Punxsutawney Phil does. Not a bad way to make a living.

As good as ol' Punxsutawney Phil has it nowadays, things weren't always so easy for groundhogs on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA. There was a time when the highlight of the day was the barbecued groundhog! Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article that appeared in Fair Play on February 14, 1920.

A community celebration of a somewhat different character but equally effective in its advertising power, is the Ground-Hog day picnic at Punxsutawney, PA. At this novel annual event farmers, politicians and former residents to the number of many thousands gather to share in eating a splendid repast, the principal feature of which is groundhog meat. The meat is cooked in barbecue fashion and invariably wins the praise of the celebrants. Speeches and informal hearty greetings of old friends occupy the afternoon. While this event is not designed to advertise a farm product, its distinctive character and the fine spirit of hospitality that obtains puts Punxsutawney and the surrounding country on the map.
The folks in Punxsutawney, PA don't serve barbecued groundhog on Ground Hog Day anymore. I'm sure no one is happier about that than Punxsutawney Phil. People used to really enjoy their Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary barbecue sandwiches. Not so much nowadays.