The Summertime Grill
by John Mooy
Once again, this story has its origin in the town of Marcellus. The greatest small town on the planet. It’s that place where so many of us spent that magical time of the year known as summer.
Today my plan is to focus on something we all enjoy during the summertime which is to eat those delectable dishes often associated with June, July, and August. In my estimation the greatest meal from my point of view is the ever popular bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich accompanied by sweet corn on the cob and topped off with a tall glass of iced tea. If there was a dessert following the meal it was often homemade strawberry pie.
In searching through the archives of my mind, I’m in that area known as grilling. Outdoor grilling started to take on popularity during my youth. In fact, I can go back to the first time I ever saw a grill, who made it, how they made it and the first foods to be barbecued on that very grill.
Elm Street – headed east toward the old football field with a stop at the garage of Ed Welburn. Ed was one of those fellows in the neighborhood who knew his way around tools, how to use them, and what could be accomplished with the correct materials. Somewhere he picked up a fifty-gallon metal drum and cut it in half vertically. Once cut he attached two hinges so the grill could he opened and closed horizontally. I’m not certain where the legs came from but I’m guessing they were large scrap pieces of aluminum which may well have come from the scrap heap at Tailormade Industries on Main Street. If I’m recalling this correctly, the aluminum could have been scrap from the manufacture of the large 30” x 52” window frames.
Now picture the barrel horizontally with hinges attached. Ed then cut angles at the bottom of the aluminum legs, so once attached, two legs at the end of each barrel slanted slightly outward. The angles would allow the legs to rest flat on the floor or ground depending upon the resting place of the grill. Now the grill could stand upright. I can’t recall how the handle was made at the front of the grill but I know it was there.
As you looked at the grill from the front, there was an upper part and a lower part. The upper part could be lifted to check your food while the lower part didn’t move. Now for the part of the grill that the food would rest on. I’m not sure where Ed got this, but the grilling area was cut from the steel catwalk on the top of a railroad box car. It was extremely sturdy, could be cut to size to fit inside the barrel and was held up by two steel rods underneath the grill. The barrel was painted with some sort of silver paint that would resist the heat.
After Ed completed his grill, a number of similar looking grills appeared in the yards around town. We ended up with a grill made from the same style as Ed’s and he was kind enough to give Dad a section of the catwalk for his grill. The people of Marcellus recognize a good idea when they see one.
Saturday night. The charcoal was placed in the bottom of the grill and lit. When the charcoal turned gray, they were ready, and the chicken was placed on the grilling area.
Now for the best part. On Saturday evenings, it was not uncommon that there would be a barbecue down at the Wellburn residence. Chicken on the grill covered with barbecue sauce. I believe Mrs. Welburn, Eve, made the sauce as it was before the days when you could purchase it in a bottle. While the chicken was grilling, the sauce was brushed on to the chicken. It smelled so good and when the chicken was finally ready to eat it was taken off the grill and heaped onto a platter. Potato salad would also be there. That was homemade as well.
Folks from the neighborhood would drop by, have something to eat, enjoy some conversation and be on their way. It was a form of fellowship that everyone enjoyed. I recall those times with great fondness. And the barbecued chicken was second to none.
Have a great week Marcellus, you’re the best.
Anything you do is
And on the lighter side:
I grilled a chicken for two hours; he still wouldn’t tell me why he crossed the road.
I wanted to grill something good for watching this weekend’s horse race. But the butcher didn’t have any Belmont Steaks.