Friday, July 27, 2012

Rebuilding Sam's BBQ: Day 1

The first day of cleaning out and rebuilding Sam's BBQ in Humboldt Tennessee went extremely well. Volunteers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina showed up to lend a hand to help rebuild history. As the day began we were visited by members of the local Chamber of Commerce who told us of a man who showed up at the Chamber looking for information on Sam's BBQ. The director of the Chamber noticed that the man had a strong accent and asked him where he was from. "Australia" he replied. He went on to explain that he had read about Sam's in Garden and Gun magazine and had come to see it in person.

Food historian and Food Network personality John T. Edge with the Southern Foodways Alliance brought several volunteers from the Alliance with him.

The crew was extraordinary in digging in and going to work immediately on ripping roofs, tearing floors and shoveling debris. Nick Pihakis of 'Jim and Nicks BBQ' brought a crew and began constructing roofs and stability for the structures. Angela and Paul Knipple, authors of 'The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover's Tour of the New American South' came from Memphis to give their time and energy to rebuilding.

As you can see in some of these photos, the building suffered great damage as the result of the fire.

The building was going to have to be cleaned out before it could be rebuilt. The pit had been cooking for over 20 years. We began by ripping off roofs and cleaning out debris.

An amazing lunch was donated by Clark Shaw and the Old Country Store. The Shaw family showed up in person to serve a southern meal of fried catfish, spaghetti, slaw, fresh tomatoes from the Farmer's Market, watermelon and homemade pecan pie. During the lunch, the Southern Foodways Alliance presented the Donald Family with a portrait that one of their members had taken several years ago of 'Sam' Donald, founder of Sam's BBQ. As you can imagine, it was a touching moment for his daughter and granddaughter who both began to cry at seeing the photo.

After lunch we began on cleaning out and restoring the pit.

There is still much more to be done but in the words of the great anthropologist Margaret Mead "“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome Tony. You guys are doing a great thing there. I'll be there only in spirit as I'll be working again tomorrow.