You can help bring holiday cheer to the hungry this season

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The National Restaurant Association reports restaurants will play a big role in Thanksgiving this year, with more than 33 million Americans dining out or ordering pre-cooked meals for their holiday celebrations. Here is the breakdown:

  • 4 million people will order their entire Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant to eat at home
  • 8 million people will dine out while shopping on Thanksgiving Day or evening
  • 14 million people will order part of their Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant to eat at home
  • 15 million people will eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant.

And a whopping 38 million shoppers will dine at restaurants on Black Friday.

But for just as many people in our nation, getting a Thanksgiving meal takes a lot more work than merely picking up the phone and calling a restaurant.

Feeding America reports that one out of every six Americans, including children and senior citizens, don’t have access to enough food. And in 2012, 6.2 million American households accessed emergency food from a food pantry or soup kitchen one or more times

Hunger is a serious problem in North Carolina too. In the 34 counties served by the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, 560,000 people struggle each day to provide enough food for their families.

The North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center reports North Carolina has the fifth highest level of food insecurity in the nation. This means many people in our state will face the holidays with little or no food on their tables. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps people purchase food that meets their basic nutrition needs, but at the beginning of November, every North Carolinian receiving SNAP funds saw a cut to their benefits, and Congress is poised to make more deep cuts that will likely put more low-income families at risk of hunger.

The Food Bank is kicking off its holiday food drive Thanksgiving weekend with an ambitious goal to raise $350,000 by December 31.  That is a challenging sum, but with hard work comes rewards, and the reward this holiday season is providing for 1.7 million meals for needy North Carolinians.

Here’s how you can help:

  • A gift of $35 will provide enough food to sustain a family for over two weeks…
  • A gift of $75 will provide groceries to an elderly couple for over two months…
  • A gift of $150 will provide 750 piping hot holiday meals to folks in our communities!

Small gifts add up. Even if you don’t have much money to spare, remember even the few dollars you can contribute added to a few dollars from your friends or co-workers will grow into enough money to make a big difference to a family in need.

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Where we were when we heard the news

The nation paused last week to reflect on the death of President John F. Kennedy, gunned down in a parade along Dallas, Texas roadways.  On November 22, 1963, the world was horrified over his assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald, and those of us old enough to remember have never been able to get the images out of our minds.

Two days later, Oswald was gunned down, live, in full view of stunned parents and even small children watching the assassin’s arrest on national television.

When you consider how scandalized we are over bad words and clothing malfunctions that sneak past FCC controls today, the idea of young kids watching actual murders, in real time on national TV, is crazy.

We remember where we were on that terrible day.

The  Newseum in Washington, DC is displaying a special exhibit on Kennedy’s life, his family, his presidency, and his death.  As part of the programming, visitors are invited to record on Post-It notes where they were when they heard about the assassination.

People posted memories of JFK's assassination

People posted memories of JFK’s assassination on Post-It notes at the Newseum in Washington, DC

The memories are vivid:

I was in high school practicing in the school orchestra.

I wasn’t alive when he was, but I have heard great things about him.

I was home with small children watching TV. We were glued to the TV for days.

I was in elementary school. All the nuns were crying and going from class to class and they were praying for him. We were all sad and left for home early. At home, we bought a new TV to watch the services.

I was 24 years old and at work. I was so scared to go outside because I feared chaos in the streets. I watched for days the carnage on TV and was fired from my job for not calling to say I would…. (unfinished) 

I was in class 6th grade Holy Trinity Catholic School. We all went to church and prayed, then watched TV all weekend.

I was on my lunch break in Syracuse, N.Y. I then wandered aimlessly home after the announcement. 

I was a senior in high school in Hartford, Conn. when Sister Berlignan came into our class and told us the president had been shot. Our immediate concern, in our naiveté was how long it would take him to recover. We did not believe he would die.

I was 8 years old and living in Sao Paolo, Brazil. We had just arrived at our Equestrian Club when one of the stable boys came running out to my family saying that “El Presidente’ Kennedy” was dead. He cried and I cried. The Brazillians loved Kennedy.

I was in 9th grade at Howard Junior High in Wilmette, Ill. In the hallway some kids said our English teacher was crying. It was between periods when we were told what happened by our teachers. School was dismissed early. We all walked home. We watched the television coverage all day, and for many days after.

I was in high school chemistry class. One of the first bulletins said that a secret service agent had also been shot. The daughter of the limousine driver was in my class. I remember she immediately got up and left the school. We didn’t see or hear from her for many days.  I went to the capitol with my mother and best friend. I remember the large, quiet crowds at the Rotunda….

Are you old enough to remember?  Even if you aren’t, those powerful newscasts from 50 years ago vividly bring the events into our living rooms and make them real for you.

Has it really been an entire half century? It seems like yesterday.

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November 25, 2013 · 5:30 pm

Love at the ultra marathon – It may not be pretty, but it’s beautiful

A family cheered a daughter, a sister, and all runners

A family cheers a daughter, a sister, and all runners

If you believe Hallmark and sappy romantic comedies, you may think romance is tied up in soft music, red roses, and romantic candlelight dinners.

I was always a sucker for the Harlequin-style love affairs and walks on the beach with a bright full moon shimmering on the waves and glowing so brightly you could cast a shadow on the midnight sand.

Yep, I thought romance was intoxicatingly sweet perfume and champagne nights until I started volunteering at the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Race.

Now I am convinced that true romance can be found not at a lovely symphony, but on a steep, rocky hill in the middle of the night, when the lights of a hundred headlamps are barely bright enough to light the way to an aid station.

True love is when your loved one is crying her eyes out because her feet hurt and all she wants to do is quit, and you love her and hate to see her in pain, but you know if you let her quit, she’ll be mad at you for the rest of your life, so as hard as it is to crack the whip and keep her moving, that’s just what you do.

True love is when your loved one finally sits down and takes off his shoes and socks to reveal the gnarliest, grossest blisters you have ever seen on a human foot, and you don’t even flinch; you just lay on the bandages.

True love is when your loved one is vomiting on the ground out in the middle of the woods and all you can do is try to get her to keep eating even though she can’t keep anything down.

True love is when your loved one is filthy and sweaty after running for 25 hours, yet you hug him and kiss him.

Jack Threadgill kisses his wife, Carolyn Quarterman, after she finishes her first 100-mile ultra marathon

Jack Threadgill kisses his wife, Carolyn Quarterman, after she finishes her first 100-mile ultra marathon

This kind of “they-may-be-crazy-to-run-100-miles-but-I-love-them-anyway-kind of romance was on full display last April when 250 ultra-marathon runners took to the pathways and trails of Umstead State Park in Raleigh, N.C. to push their limits, test their fortitude, and in many cases, try their loved ones’ devotion.

There were runners’ spouses who are not runners themselves; those spouses who had barely seen their loved ones on weekends, having handed them over to training partners for six months because of grueling running schedules.

Yet those same spouses, even those who became single parents during training months, who thought their loved ones were crazy for running 100 miles, were there. They camped out alongside the Umstead trails for an entire weekend, cheering on their crazy lovers, nursing their wounds, taking pictures, holding up signs, pacing them, and keeping them going.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

The Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run last April was a race for the lovers.

It was also a race for parents who rode the finish line all day and night waiting for their children to do the seemingly impossible, and going the extra mile to cheer for all of children of all the other parents who were also there anxiously watching and waiting.

It was a race for little kids whose parents were hoping to set good examples of how grit and determination could carry one through the toughest of tasks. Or perhaps they were simply proving that “crazy” actually does win in the end.

It was a race for best friends who set up their own aid stations and served as a combination of race crew, special needs providers and cheerleading squads.

It was a race for Bill and Sally Squier, a pair of feisty 70-year-old runners, who are beloved at the Umstead Race.

Bill has run the race every year since 1998.  Sally has run five Umstead ultra-marathons since 1998, while steadfastly serving as captain of the main aid station, “Sally’s Asylum.”

This year, the pair ran the race as a couple, to celebrate being 70 and fit enough to endure a 100-mile run, and to become the oldest couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in under 30 hours together.

Bill and Sally Squier celebrate after finishing the Umstead Ultra Marathon. At 70, they become the oldest married couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in regulation time.

Bill and Sally Squier celebrate after finishing the Umstead Ultra Marathon. At 70, they become the oldest married couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in regulation time.

Each ran his and her own race. Most of the time, Bill maintained a slight lead over his bride, but she was able to catch up with him at the aid stations where they managed to spend a few quality moments together along their journey.

Bill finished his 100-miles, alone, in 28 hours and 19 minutes.

So he started waiting.

Someone brought a small, white plastic chair and set it down in front of the finish line, where Bill would have a good view of the chute.

From that vantage point, next to the timing tent, you can see the runners heading in from nearly a quarter mile away.

After running 100 miles, Bill was tired, and trying hard not to fall asleep.

He was hungry, and someone brought him an omelet.

He was shivering, and someone brought him a blanket.

He sat still, refusing to move from that spot, and kept his eyes trained on the trail ahead.

Minutes ticked by. Then an hour.

Bill kept his vigil in the chair, never wavering; watching for Sally.

A crowd was gathered behind the finish line. Some runners, who had wrapped up their races hours ago lingered in chairs and waited. Volunteers and other spectators who had been there for their own loved ones gathered around.

The Squiers’ children and grandchildren were close by.

A couple of photographers hovered.

Suddenly Sally appeared out of the woods and crossed a parking lot. She was just a speck at first, but her image grew larger as she drew closer.

Bill stood up, and I swear the look in his eyes was the same as a groom’s watching his bride walk down the aisle.

Blake Norwood stepped out of the race’s timing tent and took his place by Bill’s side, like a best man.

Sally had an entourage of female pacers – her bridesmaids.

After 29 hours and 52 minutes of running, walking and doing everything in her power to complete her 100-mile journey within the qualifying time of 30 hours, Sally walked across the finish, and straight into the arms of her husband.

I would not have been surprised if a minister had stepped out of the timing tent with Blake to perform a renewal of wedding vows.

There was not a dry eye at the finish line.

I couldn’t help but think about the vows you make when you say “I do,” and how those vows would play out at an ultra-marathon wedding.

You would take your husband or wife “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘and in ultra marathons’, to love and to cherish until death do you part.”

One of the great mysteries of life is the mystery of love.

At the Umstead Endurance Run on April 6 and 7, a little piece of that mystery was solved.

If you are willing to love someone through a grueling 100-mile run, you can probably love them through anything.

And that’s the truth.

Check out more photos from the 2013 Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/104562092652545953382/albums/5865031377718382833

Teri Saylor lives, runs and writes in Raleigh, N.C. Contact her at terisaylor@hotmail.com

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Life in the South is best when driven by

Mobile Homes edited

Mobile Homes

Photo Gallery: Life in the South

Life in the south is best when driven by:

Sweet tea. Screen doors. Kudzu. The Blues. Country ham biscuits. Pimento cheese. Dinner on the grounds. Fried chicken. Deviled eggs. Bless your heart. Open windows in February. Porch sitting. Flip flops. Dogwood blossoms. Magnolia trees. Kinfolk. The Piggly Wiggly. Peach ice cream. Bluegrass and banjo picking. Grits and red eye gravy. Convertibles. Myrtle Beach. That giant peach next to the highway in Gaffney. Snapping turtles. Alligators. A mess of fish. The Bible Belt. Tobacco Road. Y’all. Snap beans. Grape leaf pickles. Chow chow. Tennessee Williams. Harper Lee. Selma. Mobile. Birmingham. Sweet Home Alabama. Southern Comfort. Pulled pork barbecue. Brunswick Stew. Hushpuppies. Roadside produce stands. Dirt track racing. Football. Roll, Tide. Bourbon. Mason jars. Moonshine. The Kentucky Derby. The Oakridge Boys. Dixie Melody Boys. Lord have mercy. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Shrimp and grits. The Redneck Riviera. Mama n’ em. Live oaks. Spanish moss. Savannah. Family secrets. Fields of cotton at sunrise. Butterbeans. Creamed corn. Scuppernong grapes and muscadines. June bugs. Tent revivals. Billy Graham. James Taylor. Pepsi. Nabs. Ceiling fans. Krispy Kremes. Tomato sandwiches. Charleston. Asheville. Memphis. Graceland. Beale Street. W.C. Handy. Returning thanks. Big Daddy. Maggie the cat. The Devil’s Stomping Ground. Pretty is as pretty does. Patsy Cline. Loretta Lynn. The Grand Ol’ Opry. R.C. Cola. Moonpies. Collards. Humidity. Banana pudding. The Mississippi Delta. B.B. King. Sun Records. Goo Goo Clusters. Elvis. Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter. Peanuts. Cocolas. Chiggers. Lightning bugs. Bottle trees. Buttermilk. Let me hug your neck. The unbroken circle. Autoharps. Maybelle Carter. Sunday preaching. Amazing Grace. Little Rock. Oxford. William Faulkner. Quentin Compson. Thomas Sutpen. Memory. The good Lord. Chapel Hill. Calabash. Bubba. Sissy. Fried Okra. Dr. Pepper. Cheerwine. Dohickeys. Stanley and Stella. New Orleans. Juke joints. Sweet wine. Snipe hunting. Homemade sin. Jack Daniels. Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Johnny Cash. Norfolk Southern freight trains. Potluck. Watermelon rind pickles. Charlie Daniels. Pecan pie. Big ol’ trucks. Pompoms. Cypress knees. Pralines. Beignets. Community Coffee. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Margaret Mitchell. Civil rights. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Doc Watson. Earl Scruggs. The Blue Ridge Parkway. Tweetsie Railroad. Over yonder. Piddling. Flannery O’Connor. Truman Capote. Little Rock. Charlotte. Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. The graveyard. Corn in a jar. Fried tomatoes. Chicken n’ Dumplins. Fish camps. Youngins. The ocean at dawn. Sea turtles. Beach music. Crawdads. Dogwoods. Seersucker. Atticus Finch. Molasses cookies. Mayberry. Andy, Barney and Aunt Bea. Tomato Pie. Eudora Welty. Shelling peas. Snapping beans. Tobacco barns. Going to ride. Fishing in the sun. Give me some sugar. Southern renaissance. Thomas Wolfe. Gospel. Robert Johnson. Charlie Patton. Biloxi. Indianola. Sliced onions and cucumbers. Charlotte. Mashing buttons. Picking blackberries next to the road. Paper sacks. Possums. Face jugs. Saying grace. Yes ma’am. Free Bird. King Cake. Red clay. Maya Angelou. John Hope Franklin. Clarksdale. Atlanta. Sweet onions. Grandmaw. Grandpaw. Fried tomatoes. Cheese straws. Fried zucchini blossoms. Honeysuckle. Extra syllables. Mint julep. Raising Cain. Pig pickings. Grandpaw. Richmond. Monroeville. The Florabama. Margaritaville. Sweet gardenias. Succotash. A place. Mama and Daddy. Home.

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Trending Thursday: Top 10 ….. er, 11 Tweets for 11-11-11

 

This day comes just once in a century, so for the 21st Century, here are my Top 10,  er, 11 Tweets on 11-11-11 as seen trending on Twitter:

11. It’s 11-11-11 What are you wishing for?

10. 11-11-11 Comes just once every 100 years. This is probably the first and last one you’ll see. Enjoy it!

9. 11-11-11 A great day to follow up on those goals and dreams you always planned on achieving

8. 11-11-11 I’m scared of tiny spiders, but not the end of the world

7. 11-11-11 Number 11 means incompleteness, disorganization, disintegration. Also lawlessness, disorder !!

6. 11-11-11 Next year we’ll have 12/12/12. Big deal! What would be awesome is if we could have 13/13/13

5. 11-11-11 Did you know that if you add your age and the last two numbers of hte year you were born it equals 11?

4. 11-11-11 1. Wish 1. Purpose 1. Person 1. Heart 1. Feeling 1. Word “YOU”

3. 11-11-11 Who said 1 is the loneliest number? I see a bunch of them up there.

2. 11-11-11 Maybe I’ll fall in love, or win the lottery or get a good deal on a new purse

And my choice for the top tweet trending on Twitter:

1. 11-11-11 Make the day worth remembering!

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Media Monday: Newspapers and Communities Cope with the Weight of the North Dakota Oil Boom

By Teri Saylor

Editor’s Note:  This is second in a series of four stories about newspapers serving their communities in the Bakken Oil Field of northeastern North Dakota, where an oil rush is creating extravagant population growth and an (almost) out of control economic boom. While writing for the National Newspaper Association’s Publishers Auxiliary, I spoke with the publishers at four newspapers. Here are their stories:

 

As I reported last week, North Dakota is booming thanks to a horn a plenty of oil in its northwest corner.

Roger Bailey, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association reported that unemployment is around 3 percent statewide. The state coffers are groaning under a $1 billion surplus.

But expenses are going up.

“Expenditures for the state will be rising dramatically in the areas of infrastructure, mostly for deteriorating roads and increased law enforcement,” Bailey said. “A special session of the state legislature will be held in November to address these issues. Nobody really understood how much of an effect this was going to have on the state and its people. Only now are we getting a firm hand on the situation.”

People traveling out west to seek jobs and better lives should take their own housing with them. There are not enough available places to live for the scores of new workers in the area, and the housing that is available is offered at astronomical prices.

The Bakken oil field is a shale formation spanning 14,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana and Canada.

Television journalist Harry Smith has been reporting from Williston, ND on this story for the new NBC show “Rock Central.”

Here’s the Williston story from the local newspaper publisher, Mitzi Moe.

MITZI MOE, PUBLISHER, WILLISTON HERALD

Williston is bursting at the seams.

“There are tent cities springing up and campers all over the place,” says Mitzi Moe, publisher of the Williston Herald. “Rents are also exploding. Apartments that rented for $700 went up to $1,000 last year, and this year they are at $2,000.”

People are living in tents, in campers and in residents’ basements. They also are renting rooms and living in housing developments called “man camps” located on the outskirts of the small towns around the oil field.

“Hiring people is next to impossible,” Moe said. “We are running short of staff in every department: news, advertising and circulation.”

Moe, herself, was working the front desk during a conversation with a reporter.

“It has been an experience,” she admits. “I am learning customer service all over again, and learning what my staff goes through day to day. Everyone is pitching in too. Our circulation director is helping to sell ads. Our classified advertising people are taking on accounts. There is so much involved; we’re taking it day to day.”

Moe, who has lived near Dallas, TX, compares the jammed roadways around Williston to Dallas metro traffic.

“We’re not prepared for this. We don’t have the infrastructure,” she says. “Williston is a tiny little town. We have one Walmart, two small home improvement stores, a JC Penney. Yet in the second quarter of the year, we beat Fargo (ND) in sales tax collections.”

In 2009, Williams County issued 447 building permits. In 2011 so far, the county has issued nearly 2,000. Mobile home permits have doubled in the past few years, from 627 in 2009 to 1,108 in 2011, according to Moe.

“Our advertising has increased tremendously,” she said. “Our help wanted classified display ads are generating dollars comparable to our display dollars.”

The Williston Herald is a six-day-a-week newspaper, owned by Wick Communications. In a normal week, the newspaper published two sections just two or three days a week. Now the newspaper has two sections every day.

Moe also publishes a weekly TMC publication and has started a new monthly magazine about the oil industry called “Talkin’ the Bakken.”

The four-color, glossy magazine contained 18-24 pages when it first came out.

“Today we are averaging 80 pages monthly,” Moe said. “Our September 2011 issue had 104 pages. October will have 80 pages.”

Her newspaper employees produce the magazine, in addition to their daily newspaper duties, with no extra help or staffing.

“There’s no extra staff to be had,” Moe said. “Our folks are doing an excellent job.”

Moe’s next frontier is to serve the man camps.

“The camps are very nice, sort of like barracks, and each resident has his own room,” she said. “I have been looking for ways to service them with newspapers.”

She and her staff have reported on these camps, running regular features on the men who live there.

While her job has become stressful, it is not without its rewards.

“There is so much going on now,” Moe says. “I am lucky to have a wonderful managing editor, who does a great job with our staff, and I love to see the excitement in young journalists’ faces when they have an opportunity to cover so much breaking news.”

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Out and About: Disappearing into South Carolina’s Bermuda Triangle of BBQ

Jackie Hite's in Batesburg, SC could very well be the Bermuda Triangle of BBQ, where you wish you could disappear, never to resurface

My friend Bill Rogers knows his barbecue.

As a certified barbecue judge down in South Carolina, he was my go-to guy for great Q when I visited him at the South Carolina Press Association in Columbia, where he works as executive director.

Face it, when you are friends with a real-life, card-carrying South Carolina barbecue judge, you gotta go with him to get some Q.

I grew up in North Carolina eating the red-sauced barbecue in the western Piedmont region. After migrating east, I learned to love vinegar-and-pepper Q from places like Simp’s in Roper, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, and King’s in Kinston.

But never in my life have I eaten as much barbecue in one sitting as I ate last week when Bill took me to Jackie Hite’s Barbecue in Batesburg, SC.

Getting full was no excuse to stop eating.

You see, Friday is pig-pickin’ day at Jackie Hite’s.

‘Nuff said.

The End.

Not really.

On pig pickin’ day, Jackie Hite goes whole hog.  Literally.

He lays out the meat of an entire pig under glowing heat lamps with the same care and pride a jeweler lays out the glittering gems of his trade.

A diner helps himself to a heaping plateful at Jackie Hite's

The cooking staff recites a litany of what you get on the bottomless buffet, and are happy to repeat it as often as needed.

“You got your string meat here,” a well-seasoned server points a gloved finger in the middle of the pile. “Here’s the rib meat. Here’s the shoulder. Skins are on the ends.”

Friday is pig pickin' day at Jackie Hite's and the serving staff are happy to recite a litany of the delicious meats on the buffet

No need to be picky. Bill piles heaping portions of each steaming section on my plate.

Beyond the hog are the sides and desserts: string beans with flavorful chunks of fresh brown bacon fully visible among the vegetables; creamy mashed potatoes; gravy, rice; baked beans; curried fruit; mayo-based slaw; chopped barbecue and fried chicken. And barbecue hash. And banana pudding.

The salad bar seems oddly out of place.

Jackie Hite’s Barbecue is one of a handful of South Carolina’s 100-mile barbecue joints. “I’d drive 100 miles to eat this barbecue.”

I actually drove 233 miles, to Columbia, and Bill drove the rest of the way to Jackie Hite’s.

We found ourselves in the heart of South Carolina’s mustard belt, named for the tangy yellow sauce used to flavor the barbecue in that region.

Jackie Hite reckons he’s been cooking barbecue for over 50 years, if you count the early days he spent helping out around the family business when he was just a kid.

“I believe I started helping my daddy when I was about 10 years old,” Hite says, holding court during lunch hour in his top rated joint.

The owner and author at Jackie Hite's BBQ

He’s learned his lessons well, and still cooks his hog the old fashioned way, as slow as possible over a wood fire burning in a sand pit at temperatures so low that cardboard laid over the grill doesn’t catch fire. Meat simmering for hours is treated with gobs of mustard/vinegar sauce for tenderizing and flavoring.

Jack Hitt, writing for the New York Times Magazine, called the area of South Carolina, north from Charleston to Columbia, the “Devil’s Triangle” of barbecue.

That’s where Jackie Hite’s sits, and it is where you might sell your soul to the very devil himself in exchange for barbecue.

Or you could call it the Bermuda Triangle, where you can disappear into its delicious vortex, never to resurface.

“There, the sauce is based on mustard, not tomatoes, and vinegar, not brown sugar, is the dominant back-taste,” Hitt wrote.

I know for a fact that in North Carolina, barbecue fanatics have gotten into fist fights over red sauce vs. vinegar sauce. I can only imagine the wars that break out in a state where there are four different sauces.

In addition to mustard-based Q sauce, you can get thick red sauce, vinegar sauce, and light red sauce in South Carolina.

Jackie Hite, in a show of diplomacy that would qualify him to be Secretary of State and has probably prevented all out wars among the barbecue regions, displays all four kinds of sauce on his buffet. He helpfully points out the vinegar as a way to make me feel more at home, and even brings a bottle of it over to our table.

The Q was so delicious and tender, it needed no sauce at all.

I gluttonized myself and ate two plates full.

And drank four large cups of sweet iced tea.

I was not hungry again for two entire days.

Jackie Hite’s staff has been with him for years. They are part of the ambiance of the place, a nondescript little white building decorated on the inside with trophies from Jackie’s life.

The joint is plain and spotlessly clean. Diners are as comfortable there as they are in their own kitchens. Even visitors who have never been to Batesburg before will feel right at home, as if they have been eating there forever.

Jackie Hite's is plain and spotlessly clean.

Everyone is family at Jackie Hite’s.

Jackie Hite himself is tall, broad and brawny from years playing football, years spent outside and years eating barbecue. He wears a ball cap emblazoned with the BL logo of his beloved Batesburg-Leesville high School where he earned trophies playing under the lights on Fridays. Those trophies, photos and plaques too, adorn the walls and perch on his buffet counter.

He’s still an avid football fan and fisherman.

Mounted bass with mouths gaping wide, join dozens of photos of Jackie and little kids proudly displaying their catches. Some of the photos are curled from light and sun after years of hanging on those walls. Kids smiling out from those photos are likely now grown and fishing with their own sons and daughters.

Jackie reckons he goes fishing four times a week at least, in between running his restaurant and going to football games.

The lunchtime crowd lines up on pig pickin day at Jackie Hite's

Midway through the lunch hour, the entire joint shakes and rattles as a train rumbles along tracks that go straight through the middle of town, just feet from the front door.

Conversation pauses while the train passes through.

Finally, Bill and I have eaten enough barbecue and have drunk enough tea, and we clamber out of the place.

I glance back inside the restaurant as we walk out the door. Our table is already clean, and a new diner is settling in with a heaping plate.

Back in Columbia, Bill and I struggle to hug each other before parting ways, but our swollen bellies get in the way. We are almost too full to even laugh about that.

I’m not sure when I will be hungry enough to feed from Jackie Hite’s trough again, but it doesn’t matter.

I’m going back.

There’s always room for barbecue.

Bill Rogers is a certified, card-carrying BBQ judge in South Carolina

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