Birney Imes: The day after Thanksgiving

November 28, 2009 9:23:00 PM

Birney Imes - [email protected]


Friday afternoon as I was making my way down Military Road, a white El Camino passed me headed toward town. In the truck bed was a large piece of exercise equipment, price tags flapping in the wind. 


A Christmas gift destined for a yard sale was the first thought to pop into my cynical mind. Thinking somehow it could lead to a column, I turned and gave chase. As I looped through the 16th Avenue neighborhood of Christmas light maven, Idella Bankhead, I thought, there''s no way I''m going to catch this guy. 


After zigging and zagging I somehow ended up at The Butcher Shop near the corner of 13th and Main just as a 60ish man in a plaid shirt walked out with a cardboard box of deer hamburger meat, which he put in the back of the truck. The price tag on the trainer read $549. 


The man, George Harrison, seemed happy to talk. Mine was not the first Beatles'' wisecrack he''d heard. In fact, Harrison, who lives in Hamilton and works at Columbus Air Force Base as an avionics technician, had a high school English teacher back in Kentucky who made him write a report every week on the band. 


"I hated her," Harrison laughed, "but I got an "A" in the class." 


The non-Beatle said he bought the Nordic Track Elliptical Trainer for his wife, Mary Keeney, who was riding shotgun. Sears was sold out and couldn''t reorder the machine, so Harrison and Keeney were able to get the floor model for 10 percent off after they "whined and cried."  


Keeney said her only access to the base gym, where she now exercises was early in the morning. Most of these end up in yard sales, I mentioned. Will this one? 


"I hope not," Keeney said. "He said he would kill me." 


Inside The Butcher Shop, Bill Mason, who has run the place for 15 years, says he processes hundreds of deer each year. He even has an after-hours cooler where hunters can drop off their skinned and dressed deer for processing. 


Mason has been cutting meat since he went to work for Big Star 49 back in 1962, the year the Beatles released, "Love Me Do," their first successful single. The popular grocery store was located around the corner where a Dollar General sits now. When the Big Star closed in 1994, Mason shifted to his present location on 13th.  


A bit of Big Star history: Big Star 69 was located across from the downtown Fred''s store. Billy Shull managed the 49 store and was Mason''s boss. Mason praised Shull saying he gave a lot of teenagers part-time jobs rather than hiring a few teens for longer hours. "He gave them a chance to learn good work habits," Mason said. Shull still visits Mason''s shop several times a week, he said.  


Friday Mason was joined at the counter by his almost 15-year-old grandson, Matthew Vaughn, who was helping out over the holidays. Judging by the stains on his apron and his enthusiasm, I expect the young Vaughn will be wielding a cleaver in the years ahead. 


Mason smoked, fried and oven baked 200 turkeys and turkey breasts this season. More than any Thanksgiving, he said. "We were expecting sales to be down. Because of the economy, I guess more people stayed home." 


As one of the lucky ones who stayed home, I can vouch for Mason''s smoked turkey. It was as good as any I''ve had. The meat was moist and tender with a subtle and complex flavor. "Hickory," Mason explained. "And we cook them not by time, but until they reach a certain temperature." 


As for what Mason can do with venison, the choices are bewildering. You like sausage? He offers smoked link, smoked link with jalapenos and cheese (almost all the sausages he offers a jalapeno and cheese version), summer sausage, Cajun sausage, Cajun smoked sausage, breakfast sausage. The list goes on. He can even make bologna out of venison. Is that legal? 


As for Mr. Harrison and Ms. Keeney, we''ll check back with them in June. Want to make sure that trainer isn''t a yard sale headliner. 


Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.