We called it the Chimney
by Brenda S. Brown
The place was called the chimney, and it was the site of countless happenings in our hometown. The chimney was no more than an ancient summerhouse near a modest sized fishpond, but for years, it was our favorite gathering spot.
We often assembled for no more reason than grilling a steak and tossing a salad. From time to time we gathered to commemorate the birthday of a son or daughter, or perhaps one of our circle of friends. We congregated to celebrate engagements, marriages, births, and special holidays.
When we suffered the loss of a loved one, in due time, we assembled at the chimney, and participated in a unique ceremony. We sat around a raging fire, toasted to, and shared favorite stories about our friend.
In those days our schedule was dictated by the school calendar. Therefore, we marked the beginning and the ending of the school year, with a well-attended event.
Formal invitations were never issued to attend a gathering; we just instinctively knew when to migrate to our favorite spot. Most every Tuesday evening, and at least one night during the weekend, found us cooking and visiting.
Each family brought an entrée to grill, and a favorite side dish to share. Fresh corn, and select vegetables were shared from the family gardens. There was always an abundance of food to feed the hungry guests, and when Mary Jo brought her famous sugar cookies, everyone was delighted.
Gathering at the chimney became a long-standing tradition. The children wandered around the pond, and romped in the surrounding woods, while the adults visited around the cook-fire and prepared a meal.
Barbecue was a favorite menu item. For large celebrations, we cooked an entire pig; for small gatherings we prepared several Boston butts.
Occasionally we ordered a case of chicken, and fed what seemed like the entire population of Richland. For those who did not have unlimited access to the pond, an invitation to attend a get-together at the chimney, was a real occasion.
An all-time favorite event was “wild game” night. There was at least one hunter in each family, so there was a never-ending supply of wild turkey, venison, and boar. You have not lived until you sample fried rattlesnake, turtle soup, calf-fries, and barbecued goat.
We were fond of gulf seafood, so several bushels of oysters could be devoured during one evening. A favorite item was Frankie’s grilled shrimp. The large shrimp were cleaned, shelled, and then marinated in Italian dressing. They were wrapped with thick bacon, and secured with toothpicks that had been soaked in liquid to prevent burning. A few minutes of grilling produced a mouth-watering dish.
I would like to go back one day and visit the chimney; I am sure if I sat quietly and listened, that I could hear the whispered voices of friends from days gone-by.
To those who remember, and to those that we have lost…here’s to the chimney. May it live in our memory forever….
Our porch photo is of Wallow Lodge on Sapelo Island, Georgia.
Brenda S. Brown, a native of Richland, Georgia, has resided in Baldwin County for the past twenty years. Her column “Looking Back” is published bi-weekly in the Union Recorder newspaper. Many short stories and informative columns have been featured in area publications.
Her first manuscript, “Precious Gems from Ruby” is a detailed anecdote about her family, and growing up in southwest Georgia. The memoir is now complete, and she is actively seeking a publisher. Brenda is a member of Rosemary Daniell’s “Zona Rosa Writing Group” in Savannah.
She and husband Otto have two grown sons and four grandchildren.
© 2005, Brenda S. Brown, All Rights Reserved