Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Great American Cubs & Classics Fly-In Barbecue – a review

Great American Banner

What can I write? The weather was forecast to be perfect, the winds pleasantly quiet, the skies clear. What could possibly go wrong?

Fly-In Weather forecast

President Don Stan, Kathy and Rich

President Don of the Western North Carolina Air Museum cranked up the John Deere and mowed, and mowed, and mowed … Stan and Kathy arrived the night before to stake their claim to the #1 parking spot – Richard was there to greet them.

Sunrise over Hendersonville Airport, NC

All was in readiness ... then the Head Weather Guy stepped in. We awoke to red skies – you know the adage: Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning. Yep, it’s true. We had lowering clouds, fog, low ceilings ... all of which normally lift by about 10am. Didn't this time, though … grey skies all day.

Cub and  Classic Flyers are not to be daunted, however. We had, all in all, 8 Cubs that flew in, 2 Stearmans, 2 Cessna 180s, a Cessna 195, a Fairchild 24W, an Aeronca Champ and a classic straight-tail 172. Sixteen airplanes, plus several friends who drove their land yachts due to the weather.

Cub arriving Cub parking Cubs all in a row

By 10:30 or 11am our spirits lifted considerably – seeing all that yellow and meeting some great people made our day! Cubs from as far away as York SC, Gainesville GA and eastern TN made the trek for some really fine barbecue. Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.

Field of Yellow Classic Row Cubs2OSH How many laminations is that prop Bradley and Jim Slow and slower

The Guest of Honor:

Guest of Honor

For a video recap, click on the YouTube link below:

WNC Air Museum Sign

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The First Saturday in May

Today, being the First Saturday in May and, therefore, Kentucky Derby Day, I give you:

The Mint Julep
The Mint Julep, a distinctive Southern drink, popular in the ante bellum South right up through modern times, is a mixture of water, sugar, mint leaves and, above all, bourbon whiskey. While it can be purchased today in modern drinking establishments in the South, those served there bear little resemblance to those served in the home. The serving of this elixir to family and guests on a hot summer afternoon was, and is, accomplished with the greatest fanfare and flourish to show respect for those receiving it. It is as much of a ceremony as it is a drink.
The following is a copy of a letter from Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., USA [(VMI-1906, West Point-1908) killed on Okinawa June 18, 1945] to Major General William D. Connor, [Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point] dated March 30, 1937. Buckner Jr. was the son of General Simon Bolivar Buckner of the Confederate army who surrendered Fort Donelson to General Grant, thus giving Grant his nickname of "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. This letter clearly demonstrates the esteem in which a "Mint Julep" is held:

My Dear General Connor:

Your letter requesting my formula for mixing mint juleps leaves me in the same position in which Captain Barber found himself when asked how he was able to carve the image of an elephant from a block of wood. He said that it was a simple process consisting merely of whittling off the part that didn't look like an elephant.

The preparation of the quintessence of gentlemanly beverages can be described only in like terms. A mint julep is not a product of a formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion. It is a rite that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician nor a Yankee. It is a heritage of the Old South, and emblem of hospitality, and a vehicle in which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn paths of a happy and congenial thought.

So far as the mere mechanics of the operation are concerned, the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be described as follows:

Go to a spring where cool, crystal-clear water bubbles from under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a little water at the source. Follow the stream thru its banks of green moss and wild flowers until it broadens and trickles thru beds of mint growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly in the summer breeze. Gather the sweetest and tenderest shoots and gently carry them home. Go to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon distilled by a master hand, mellowed with age, yet still vigorous and inspiring. An ancestral sugar bowl, a row of silver goblets, some spoons and some ice and you are ready to start.

Into a canvas bag pound twice as much ice as you think you will need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry and do not allow it to degenerate into slush. Into each goblet, put a slightly heaping teaspoonful of granulated sugar, barely cover this with spring water and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this, leaving the spoon in the goblet. Then pour elixir from the decanter until the goblets are about one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small amount of sugar as you fill. Wipe the outside of the goblets dry, and embellish copiously with mint.

Then comes the delicate and important operation of frosting. By proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and blended until nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of its beautiful phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glistening coat of white frost.

Thus harmoniously blended by the deft touches of a skilled hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and beautiful women.

When all is ready, assemble your guests on the porch or in the garden where the aroma of the juleps will rise heavenward and make the birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblets to your lips, bury your nose in the mint, inhale a deep breath of its fragrance and sip the nectar of the gods.

Being overcome with thirst, I can write no further.

Sincerely, Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner, Jr. VMI Class of 1906

Go forward, friends, and rejoice.