Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laytonville's "Old-Timers Day" Baseball Game and Barbecue.

The Laytonville Old-Timers Day is something that have looked forward to, and have enjoyed, since I was so small I can't remember. When I was a little kid I used to help Ed Downing and my dad, Everett, make the barbecue sauce for the barbecued chicken that they made every year. I got to peel and slice what seemed like tons of garlic. When I was through with that, I got to slice and squeeze the lemons. Then, while they were pouring the Sautern wine in, I got to sneak a few sips of wine. I remember telling Ed Downing how much I liked butter, so he gave me a cube to eat. He said that he was quite fond of butter himself and he acted like he was eating it too. I don't recall why, but I remember getting sick to my stomach a few times after helping dad and Ed. My mother thought that maybe it was just too much excitement for me. I agree that drinking wine and eating butter is pretty exciting stuff for little kids, but I always felt fine the next day.

The day of the barbecue, we would wrap strips of a cotton sheet around a willow stick, until we had a large swab. We would use the swab to keep the chicken swabbed with sauce and moist while it was cooking over the sizzling hot open oak wood flame. The pits were built especially for chicken, they are very deep, and the flames are at least four feet away from the chicken. The hot glow comes up through the chicken and sizzles it to a golden tender brown. When the chicken was thoroughly done, it was placed in large serving pans. When the pans would come back to be refilled, I would take a spoon and scoop the cooked garlic from the bottom of the pan along with the left over juices, and pour it over a piece of french bread toast. I loved that stuff. Of course by evening, I had too much excitement again.

The people of town all bring their favorite recipe for chili beans and salad. There is french bread and watermelon, and any thing you might want for a refreshment. The whole thing is much like a big pot luck dinner, with the best food that you've ever eaten.

I fondly remember (now, I didn't at the time) all of the old-timers sitting around telling fascinating stories of the good old days. One of the stories I remember, is the old fellow who would always come up to my Grandmother Ruby and say, "Ruby do you remember the time when we were kids that I packed you across the creek? They would both Blush and smile a lot, but nothing more was said. I often wondered what the whole story might have been, but I was always too wise to ask. Now, I have endless speculation about it.

All of the local politicians are there. They are there in great abundance during and election year, and if perhaps they miss the ball game and barbecue, they are held conspicuous in their absence, and their bright prospect of the winning the vote for office dims a little. Local politics are discussed, and a few beers are quaffed.

The Laytonville town baseball team always plays the Willits town team, in what is well known as a friendly grudge match. They start the first inning with all of the towns old-and-retired, but still spirited, baseball players. They show all of the form and style of their younger years, and then they gratefully turn the game over to the "Kids". Most of the "kids" are into their "Past Prime Years". They get pretty serious at times, then they always seem to remember that the game is all in god fun, and in good sportsmanship. Then, all too soon, it's all over, and they knock the dirt from their cleats, and head home, and start looking forward to next year.

I'm filled with all of the memories of the people that I have known, that are gone now. Sadly, they are too numerous to mention, and I would leave someone out, or get them in the wrong order. I feel obligated to mention that Diana (Elliot) Robinson died and wasn't there last year. Her absence was felt by everyone. she was part of the event for many years, and I truly believe that she had a major part in keeping the event together. It is up to us, and the rest of the people of Laytonville, to keep this as the great event that it has become. I hope that It even becomes more popular through the years. After all, there is an endless supply of Old Timers. We may as well enjoy ourselves!

This year's game will be held Saturday, August 15th 2009.
I think that it starts around noon? I'll clear that up and post it here.

I will be there with my wife, and most of my family will be there. This would be a perfect opportunity to get some of your history questions answered, and have a great meal, and watch a great game. I sincerely hope that, if you are at all interested, that you will come to the Barbecue. The price of the meal is reasonable. I'll get back to you on that also.

I know that I'm two months ahead of the event, but I wanted to give you "planning room".



Omr said...

How are the pies?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Every kind of pie and dessert you would ever hope for. Made from old family recipes.

Rockhouse Jones said...

I always enjoyed watching the Blue Lake Chicks and the Scotia team (Lumberjacks?) play Old Timers Hardball during Annie & Mary Day in Blue Lake and in Scotia during their annual town festival. During the late 1980s, both sides had a hard time fielding a team from the remaining Redwood League hardball players, so younger guys were recruited. They took the game too seriously and whole idea was scrapped shortly thereafter.

I'd love to play hardball again - tracking down flies in center, taking leads off first, and maybe even throwing an inning or two.


hope you update this again,when the time gets nearer!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yep, I will.