I love covering Fairfield Central High School football games, but I won’t be on the sidelines Friday night as the Griffins play Cheraw for the Upperstate Championship. This makes two years in a row that I missed covering that big game, but I have a good reason.
Every year my family gathers next door at my Grandmamma Long’s house for a tradition over 70 years old. Back in the day my Granddaddy Long’s first cousins and their families met at “the old home place” to celebrate Thanksgiving. Family legend had it that they got together during the Great Depression to share a turkey but the gathering goes back farther than that.
Relatives from the Aull side of the family came from far away places in Georgia, North Carolina, and the coast of South Carolina. Many of them would spend the night from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through the Friday after. On Friday the men would hunt or fish and then they would serve whatever they killed or caught at a barbecue that night.
The hunting and fishing has ebbed with time but the outdoor cookout remains. We have around 60 to 70 people come to Pomaria to spend all day Thursday. Most of them return Friday night for a more laid back outdoor party to contrast a more formal Thanksgiving celebration the day before.
These folks are on my mom’s side of the family in the Aull branch and people on that side of the family just don’t miss Thanksgiving. Or the Friday after. In fact, when I was a kid, I thought everyone celebrated Thanksgiving on both days. I mean, we were out of school for two days for a reason, right?
For me as I think back to my childhood, that Friday was about hickory smoke coming up from the barbecue pit as we cooked chicken and ribs; about homemade potato chips fried using lard in Grandaddy’s big cast iron pot; fried dove, chicken livers, chicken gizzards, and rabbit; and of course, Grandma’s stickies that she made every year.
For those of you who don’t know, stickies (not to be confused with sticky buns made from biscuit dough) are delicious pastries of pie dough stuffed with a mixture of butter and sugar. Then more butter and sugar is caramelized and drizzled on top as the cigar sized pastries bake.
After a seven-year apprenticeship, I finally was entrusted last year to make them for the family for the first time without Grandma’s oversight. It worked out, though the batch this year was a bit of a bigger challenge for some reason. As I write this column, 88 stickies are made and waiting on the Aull cousins to descend upon Grandma Long’s house.
But there is more than food on Friday night. I thought of this last Saturday as I covered the storytelling Tellabration event in Winnsboro. We have traditional storytelling and there are group games the family plays every few years or so when new boyfriends or girlfriends, or new spouses attend.
The Cremation of Sam Maghee by Robert Service is one recitation the children will sit down to hear after supper Friday night. There is also a rendition of a mixed up country story entitled “My Gal Sal” where among the things the protagonist with his gal Sal, who lives over near the Broad River, does is throw his hat in the fire and spit on Sal’s bed.
Those stories were told by family storyteller John Calvin (J.C.) Aull before that tradition was handed down to our cousin, Bill. Pretty soon it’ll be time to dust off a children’s book I wrote called The Longest Thanksgiving of All, to share with our younger kids. Of course, that’ll come after a Snipe Hunt and … Well, I can’t go into it all here, but you get the idea.
So, while I am taking a Friday night off to be with family, go Griffins! I’ll be following you on Twitter against the Braves. And I’ll see y’all in the State Championship Game next week.
Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Herald Independent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.