A Very Special Father’s Day (She wanted steamed clams… lots of steamed clams)

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Dick & Marge Yard

A Very Special Father’s Day

It truly was a sight to behold and on more than one level. To call it “a family cook-out” would be an understatement to say the least. The story that is about to unfold is one filled with many ingredients; love, humbleness, family and American dream are just a few that come to mind as I write this.

I’m 52 years and I have known of the Yard’s all my life. Marge & Dick Yard are school bus drivers in my community. I am a school bus driver in my community and I came to know Marge & Dick as friends when I started driving bus 18 years ago. Both have long since retired but continue to drive as substitutes nearly every week if not every day. I kind of personally feel that they really don’t have to work so much, but it gives them something to do… And they’re dedicated to what they do. After all they are the ones who are there all the time while the full time drivers are constantly out. They’re both really cool people… they’re what I call “good people.”

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Dick approached me a few weeks ago and took me by surprise when he asked if I could cook some food for a small family get-together he was having on Father’s Day. I just never thought he would ask me something like that. He went on to say it was his 85th birthday and his twin sister was coming to visit and he needed catered food so no one would have to cook. Whoa! Hold on here just a minute… 85th birthday, twin sister… I had no idea Dick had a twin sister. I knew he had a sister, but I never knew they were twins. And how could he be turning 85 years old when… was he just 67 years old like few years ago when I started driving bus. Oh… yeah that’s right I’ve been driving for 18 years, gosh how time flies. So as he continues to talk I’m trying to get my head around how important this event is going to be. A man who is fortunate enough to have an 85th birthday on Father’s Day and have all his family, wife, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and twin sister all there at the same time. That right there is more than amazing and how blessed one truly could be. And in good health I might add. Wow! And he is just talking like it’s no big deal. Like I said “humble.”

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Richard (Dick) Yard Happy 85th Birthday My Friend

After giving him some basic info, like all good husbands he said “I will talk to Marge about it.” So yes it turned into a full on pig roast. But Marge wasn’t so much worried about the roasted pig as she was the clams. She wanted steamed clams… lots of steamed clams. So of course I did just that, I ordered lots and lots of steamed clams… and butter, don’t forget the butter. Of course there was all the other good side dishes that make any American style family BBQ complete like corn on the cob (with lots of butter), my red skin country potato salad, baked beans with smoked sausage and apples, hamburgers & hot dogs and more.

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Munn Smith with her infamous smile.

My wife was excited too, she has heard me talk about a lot of the people I work with over the years and she always wondered when she would get to meet the Yard’s (if ever). Munn was really looking forward to this, being a Thai lady who comes from a very close family and from a village lifestyle where older people are very much respected she loves to see families come together. And as I have stated many times “it is events like this that are the collateral fun of my crazy little catering business.” We get to see all kinds of memories being made right in front of are eye while we work. Kind of “hokie” I know, but true all the same.

So the location of the party was at the oldest son’s house. Just a very beautiful private country setting, actually almost story book like for this special Father’s Day. No not a big palatial upper crust mansion, but rather a beautiful home that was built by a self-employed hard working man who himself is living the American dream.

So the stage is set but… what does Mother Nature have to say about it? The weather was gorgeous so let’s party. Oh but wait… Munn forgot to pack the BBQ sauce. So after Tiny and I made a quick trip back, now all was good.

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Twins Dick and his sister Marge on their 85th Birthday

Of course the pig was awesome and just set the mood for the day. To me the pig is just food to eat. However at the same time the roasted pig is what denotes the day as something very special. The smell of the hardwood smoke and pork fat rendering as the day progresses just puts a smell in the air and when guests approach the whole scene it is like casting a magical spell that says “today is very special” and it was special. While Dick and his sister were celebrating twin birthdays Marge was celebrating too. She walked up to me at one point and said “out of the 50 or so people in attendance, only three were not her family. Marge had all her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and husband together in one place and all having fun. And that right there is an American dream and a blessed thing. Munn & I were so happy to be there to see it and to cook for them.

Happy birthday Dick and many more my good friend.

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We Need an Ambulance (imagine dipping your toes in lava.) Part 1

_MG_2058“Yeah it was all fun & games till the ambulance showed up.” Sounds funny and as I look back on it now most times it was funny… well yeah most times, but not all.

So in 20 years of going out and cooking on location you know it is bound to happen sooner or later that you will be at an event where someone gets sick or hurt or some way needs medical assistance. Let me list a few here.

Old people falling down

Drunk people falling down

Old drunk people falling down

Young drunk people falling down

Bee stings

Dog bites

Food allergies

Old people falling down

BB gun accidents

Dehydration

Heart attack

Baby dropped on head

Girlfriend dropped on head

Old people falling down

Kid hit by car on bike

Kid hit by another kid

And the list goes on… oh and did I mention old people falling down. I was at a party years ago where there were three different incidents of old people falling down. Each time the State Trooper arrived before the EMTs. Finally the host asked him if he could just stay and join the party (no joke). The Trooper said he could not stay but he wanted all elderly to leave the party. LOL he was joking. In all of the incidents I have listed above no one was seriously injured except one and I’ll touch on that one later.

So really the one piece of advice to take away from this is “watch out for elderly guests” at your party. In my experience it was always one of two things. It was either the hot weather or uneven ground/sidewalks ect…

There for a while in the early 2K years we would take bets on the way to the job “will we see an ambulance at the party today.” It seemed to happen so often, at one point we were at three weeks running.

Another that comes to mind was the time the groom passed out at the end of the wedding reception and it is not what you think. Sure the groom passed out and on his way down strikes his head on a huge boulder in the yard. So everybody thinks he had too much to drink and we put him in the “drunk people falling down” category. But he was not a drinker, didn’t smoke, do drugs… nothing, he was just dehydrated and run down from all the work leading up to his wedding. I felt so bad for him because he truly was a really cool young man. He came to, and refused to get in the ambulance. Then passed out again and the Trooper said “get him on that stretcher and out of here ASAP.” Only problem for me was… the groom was paying the bill and now he left in an ambulance. Yeah fun times.

Did I ever need an ambulance? The answer is kind of mixed. No I never left the job in an ambulance although sometimes a “straight jacket” would have been nice. One time I did dump boiling turkey juice down my leg and into my leak proof Gore-Tex shoe, where it cooked my foot just like the turkey. If you’re wondering how bad it hurt… Something like that kind hurt. I tried to pretend it did not happen and went on with what I was doing, until my girlfriend (who was standing there in amazement) asked; “doesn’t that hurt?” At that point I went to my truck for the first aid kit and tended to it. I finished the job, but that’s all I’ll say because any further description would turn your stomach. I will say I still have both of my feet although one tastes better than the other.

So that concludes part one, in part two I’ll talk about the time I cooked food that nobody would eat and a baby and old man both get dropped on their head at the same time. (You can’t make this stuff up folks.)