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Minnie Evans makes mean wings

My neighbor James “Duck” Drake, who had stents inserted into his heart recently after a significant attack, was sounding better than ever last weekend when he took the stage for what we hope becomes a first annual “Block Party.”

Joel McNeece

Joel McNeece

Living next door to a very talented musician who owns his own music studio just a few feet from my fence has some great advantages. It’s always a treat to sit on our patio, especially in the fall, with a fire crackling in the evening, and listen to Duck and his many visitors practicing for an upcoming gig.

A good crowd from the neighborhood attended last weekend’s “Block Party” with a tremendous selection of food that kept us going back for more. My favorites had to be Minnie Evans’ chicken wings of all varieties and some fried deviled eggs.

I’ve enjoyed more of Minnie’s wings than I should admit, but these were my first fried deviled eggs. I haven’t found a form in which I don’t enjoy eggs, and this was certainly something I’m going to look into further.

Duck was joined on stage (a wooden deck off the back of his equipment shed) for most of the night by his “Sounds of Tyme” band mates – Jimmy Dickey on sax and Kim Burt on vocals.

I could listen to Kim Burt sing all night. She is immensely talented, capable of performing on much larger stages than our backyard, but I was proud she was there.

Jessey Higdon sat in for a while playing some of my favorite Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard classics. He was playing “Silver Wings” when we walked over and set up our lawn chairs, which told me instantly this was going to be a fun night.

My friend Javier Carrasco, owner of Veracruz Mexican restaurant in Bruce and who also will be my assistant coach with Vardaman Ram soccer this upcoming season, even entertained with a few selections including an Elvis tune or two.

It was a fabulous night in the neighborhood that served as a great reminder of what a fabulous place we live. Our little community, just a few blocks off the Bruce Square, smack dab in the middle of town, has changed greatly over the years.

Duck was sharing with us he remembered as a small child when there was nothing in any direction from his house but hog lots and pasture. He said his parents’ house, which he now proudly calls home, was the first built in Bruce for the Becketts.

He told us about the time the original home burned and his parents built back right there.

Our house next door, built by long time E.L. Bruce Company employee Newt Hanson, was the first in Bruce built on a concrete slab. I‘ve seen pictures shared by Shed Hill Davis of him as a kid riding a horse around town, what little town there was at the time, that shows that area north of the square. You can see Duck’s house in the background and the two giant oak trees (both more than 100 years old) that anchor our front and back yards. There was nothing else, as Duck said, anywhere around.

Now we are surrounded by houses and obviously fun neighbors that enjoy a good “Block Party,” hopefully for years to come.

Joel McNeece is publisher of the Calhoun County Journal in Bruce.