Chuckatuck Ruritan in touch with powers above

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 20, 2003

If you are one who still does not believe in the power of prayer, read this. You saw the weather on Tuesday, April 8 – raining cats and dogs. It was no different Wednesday morning when the members of that Ruritan club set up for the 1,000 that bought tickets for the 27th annual Oyster Roast. It takes the entire club to prepare the clam chowder and hot sauce, and set up tables and planks for gusto customers who would arrive an hour early demanding sustenance for which they eagerly paid $20. Beginning work at 8 a.m. in strong wind and rain they wondered how many would pass up the event if the heavens did not change. There would be no loss of money, but how do you dispose of 150 bags of oysters, each a bushel and a peck, gallons of hot sauce, peanuts, crackers, and 80 gallons of clam chowder. Promptly at 1 p.m. the wind and rain stopped. The grill was given its final cord of oak wood and by serving time an hour later they had a bed of charcoal four feet wide and forty-two feet long. On went the half inch steel plates and the first batch of Mississippi oysters. Also thank the powers that PETA did not witness the sacrifice.

You will believe that an oyster roast ticket is cheap when you realize over 50 men and boys labored many hours to fill the thousand gullets demanding more and more as they hold their place on the four hundred feet of planks. Besides the tent workers providing the chowder, peanuts, crackers and hot sauce, there are the &uot;professional&uot; Ruritan oyster cookers. It is quite an operation when you realize many thousands of oysters are served in two hours. They back the truck in behind the grill, drag out the bags, up-end them on a steel truck bed where they are washed with a fire hose. It takes all of 15 men to grab shovels of oysters, walk the length of the grill, drop them on the hot plates, and cover with steam hot wet burlap bags. When the master chef gives the word they are uncovered and pushed into the ten waiting wheel borrows whose drivers deliver them to the tables accompanied by their assistants who shovel them up on the waiting planks. It is a very smooth operation in a hot, smoke filled environment. But they get it done.

Because Mama Nature had been so generous with H2O, there was the danger of hundreds of trucks and autos bogging down in the wet pasture. But by 6:30 they had cleared out leaving only the usual huge mess to clean up. There are two shell halves to an oyster and those not tossed in the provided trash boxes were well trampled into the wet ground. I’ll leave the description of tabletops adorned with wet towels, hot sauce trays, peanut shells, crackers, cracker wrappers, empty cups, and soggy left behind left-handed gloves to your imagination. On their way out the &uot;customers&uot; insist they want tickets for next year, buy uncooked bags of the salty bivalves and any leftover clam chowder. In 27 years there has never been a complaint except for the unavailability of tickets. The limit is 1,000.


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In case you missed it, you should know that all of you came very close to going the way of the dinosaurs. On April 3 an asteroid from out of space came whizzing by our earth at much too close a distance. Three times the distance of the moon away, about 750,000 miles, which is the width of a human hair in space language. You didn’t see it or hear it and if it had hit this earth you wouldn’t have seen it or heard it. This little asteroid was over 150 miles across, big enough to shave off a slice of the planet. But you better get your life in order because the next one might be on course and it’s doubtful a Patriot missile will stop it. Sure they knew it was coming but figured it would miss.

Looks like our new City Manager can exercise more power than he had as an assistant. It appeared he didn’t have his way when the &uot;Force&uot; was appointed to judge the plan, and where the Matanock Indian village would be located. But now that he is the man, things are different. It appears he wants the Indians out of the reservation they had proposed and into a village reduced to an embarrassment for the warriors. I hope the Chief and the Dalton &uot;gang&uot; tell him to stick it and build the teepees somewhere else. It will be a huge loss to the tourist bureau if the appointed Force does not get with them. The Nansemond Indians are being scalped, the desired 140 acres reduced to four is an insult. Funny, the High School restoration went from $1 million to $13. It matters to which tribe you belong.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.