Thanks so much for coming back.

We may or may not solve any of the world’s problems this time.

Before I really get started on this latest addition to Uncle Tom’s Corner I must tell you that it just may be my last. A long-held belief is that abiding by the law has served me well for the last few decades. I once heard a rumor that guys my age don’t do well prison and that’s a rumor I’ve not felt needed put to the test. Recently, however, I’ve received two voice mails…one on August 18th from (516) 217-9209 and the other on August 22nd from (313) 736-2264…each telling me of four serious allegations against me and that I’d be taken into custody by the local police. Since they came from two different numbers I don’t know if its two different agencies after me or there are actually eight different allegations I should be concerned about. Either way and being the civic minded individual that I didn’t want to make either of them hunt me down so I called Thornton Police and offered to turn myself in. So far they haven’t come after me but I’m thinkin’ any day now…

Last time I talked about the Spring Fire east of Alamosa. My most recent foray took me back to the wilds of Worland, Wyoming. Getting to Worland means driving to Casper and then heading off northwest and through the Wind River Canyon. As always, it was a spectacular drive but this time there was a haze. When I asked about it I was told it was due to the fires in Montana and California. I saw that someone suggested California is on fire as retribution for their unbridled lifestyle. Personally, I don’t think it works that way but then again… The drive out and taking the longer but more scenic route from Worland to Greybull …over the Bighorn Mountains by way of Burgess Junction…absolutely breathtaking. There were a couple of times where the contrast in dimension was actually dizzying…wouldn’t do any good to take a picture because a picture couldn’t do it justice. If you have a few days with nothing better to do I can’t recommend that trip too much. Just don’t try it in winter. The first time I made that drive was in the winter and I was pretty well convinced that when the spring thaw came they’d find a Swede-cicle up on top. Enough of the travelogue.

This time I want to talk about the people…the competitive bbqers/pitmasters and the judges alike. Regardless of how we choose to look at it we’re all in the people business.

Sometime in 1977 a 2-part TV mini-series came out entitled Sibyl. It was the story of a girl, Sibyl Dorsett (played by Sally Field) who had endured horrible child abuse at the hands of her mother. In order to cope she developed 17 distinct personalities…some of which displayed seriously bizarre behavioral traits. At some point Sibyl began working with Dr. Cornelia Wilbur (played by JoAnne Woodward), a psychiatrist, who was able to draw out all of the compartmentalized personalities so Sibyl could confront them as a group.

Sometime after that I had the pleasure of meeting Connie Thomas, an agent who worked for Jim Hill Real Estate on Washington St. Connie had an interesting hobby…she collected people. Not like in the sci-fi movies where aliens have preserved humans in large vats of liquid…but living, breathing people. Somehow I had the good fortune of having been selected to Connie’s collection. I knew of the collection…I just didn’t know what it took to get selected nor did I know what the common thread might be. Then Connie hosted a luncheon for “the collection” at the old Stuart Anderson’s Steak House on Hwy. 36 and Pecos. Upon meeting a bunch of them (most of them for the first time) it became quite apparent what the common thread was. They were all just a couple of bubbles off true north and, at the time, I suspect I fit right in.

So it is on the bbq trail. A couple of bubbles off of true north; three lightbulbs short of a chandelier; missing the pickles on a sub sandwich. And they all have a story. There was a guy from Albuquerque, NM at my table in Alamosa whose grandfather survived the Holocaust. That led to a conversation about how there are more than a few neo-Nazis and other groups that deny the Holocaust even took place. At some point it dawned on me…the majority of the victims of the Holocaust were Jews. This guy’s grandfather was likely Jewish. And yet, here sits this man judging pulled pork and pork ribs. How does that even work? Being the shy, retiring type that I am I asked. He said he was “not kosher”. I truly never knew it was an elective. I discovered from travelling Wyoming, Idaho and Utah that there were LDS that didn’t adhere strictly to the Mormon teachings. And so it is with most any strict observations…there are those who choose to insert their own interpretation. So much for stereotyping. Next I’ll hear that there are Lutherans who don’t like Jello or Nebraskans who don’t like Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing.

And I shared a judging table with a guy from Thermopolis, Wyoming who totally missed his calling…he should have been a stand-up comedian. We’d no more that finish with one of the categories (chicken, ribs, pork and brisket) and he’d start in with the jokes. I fully expected one or more of my fellow judges to expel pulled pork through their nose due to the laughter. Some people just don’t fully appreciate how serious this stuff is.

And that pretty well wraps it up for another episode.

See you back at Uncle Tom’s Corner in a couple of weeks.