View Issues‎ > ‎2018 Issues‎ > ‎1806 June, 2018‎ > ‎

180604 June 4, 2018


Part II
The Butcher Shop Party of 1962
 - It Took A Lot of Dough
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        As the pictures were being taken and the music of the night was being enjoyed, another activity was being formulated somewhere else in the crowd.  I don't know how it started, or who started it, or even why it was started.  None of that mattered.  Someone somehow discovered one of the open-topped refrigerated cases contained a plethora of cans of pop-open biscuits.  They were the standard sized cans each holding ten wads of the preformed sticky biscuit dough.  Whether it was by accident or on purpose is not important today, but somehow, one of the cans of biscuits was opened and the uncooked biscuits were taken out of the can.  The next thing we knew, a small, sticky, white object was streaking across the dance floor and a loud "whap" sounded as it struck one of the dancers in the head.  In the truest form of "an eye for an eye" reprisal, the biscuit-target quickly scraped the dough from his hair and hurled it back across the floor in the general direction from which it came.

Each can held ten biscuits and the case was full of cans when the outbreak started.  They didn't stay that way long.  Boys who had never before in their lives opened a can of biscuits grabbed handfuls and pocketfuls of the bright red and yellow cans.  They were passed around like ammo in the "B" grade war movies we watched on television each Saturday morning.  "Pass the biscuits!" took on a whole new meaning.  The cries went out.  In the next few minutes, the theory of arms build-up and war escalation was learned by the teenage guests at the party.  It was learned quicker in that instant than it could have been learned in two weeks of classroom study.

In the style of the Keystone Kops and the Three Stooges, the room, and the party erupted in flying biscuits instead of cream pies.  The soft dough stuck to the walls, the floors, the faces and backs of the party guests.  Each time there was a "whap" the biscuit projectile was scooped up and fired back across the room.  Sides were quickly formed, with one group moving to the right of the room and another group moving to the left.  People jumped over the cases and behind chairs to seek cover.  Biscuit dough was flying back and forth across no-man's land in salvos.  Brave souls jumped up to scrape biscuits off the wall, only to be pelted by hundreds of others, as both sides, friends and foes alike cheered.  It was like the world's biggest snowball fight, only we were inside and had reusable snow balls.  "Whap-whap-whap."  They came in groups.  Girls and boys alike joined in the warfare.  It was friend against friend, brother against brother, steady against steady.  The only choosing of sides and partners was decided by which side of the room you ran to when the war started.

I don't know how long it lasted.  It probably didn't go very long, but in memories it was more than a short outbreak.  It was my first food fight.  It would put the one in "Animal House" to shame.  It was great.  I joined in with the group on the case side of the room.  I don't know where my steady ended up.  I aimed at my best friends.  If they were hiding, I aimed at my enemies.  I aimed at girls with bee-hive hairdos and with low-cut dresses.  It didn't matter.  It was riotous.  We loved it, and no one got hurt.  Even the cost of the biscuits was small compared to the amount of fun that the crowd had in the short period of time.

The adult chaperons couldn't let the activity continue all night, and eventually moved in to stop it.  Even they did not move onto no-man's land without being in danger of the small wads of dough.  Somehow, someway, the fighting was brought under control and a cease fire was called.  There was no formal peace treaty, just as there had been no formal decoration of war.  No one even knew who fired the first shot, but eventually the fighting stopped.

In all the excitement of the battle, we did not have a battlefield photographer.  If there was one, he or she was more interested in being a combatant than a non-combatant.  There were no photos taken.  If there were, they would have been nothing but white streaks across the film as the dough traveled from one side of the battle line to the other.  Following the cease fire, the group collectively gathered together the small balls of dough and put them into the trash cans that had been moved to the middle of the battlefield.  The dough was no longer the bright white color it was when it was originally popped from the cans.  The small balls were now covered with dirt and lint and large strands of hair from the unfortunates who were in the line of fire.  Some could not be retrieved.  Some wads hung in Playdough-like fashion, stretching down from the ceiling like stalactites in a cave.  Others were stuck high on the walls, out of reach of mortal men, and probably remain there today.

The importance of the party, the food, the drinks, the guest list remain grey globs in the mind today.  Perhaps if it had not been for the biscuit fight, the whole party may have never been remembered at all.  In the remaining years of my teenage days, I would go to many other parties with the same group of people.  I would hear all the same songs, and dance with the same girls.  In my mind, the party at the butcher shop will always remain one of the most memorable parties I enjoyed as a teenager.  It could never be repeated or ever re-staged.  It was a spontaneous event that took its place in my memory and the memories of all the "Veterans of The Biscuit Battle Campaign."

        Memphis, TN - Well, I am surprised no one has admitted they were at the Butcher Shop party I wrote about last week. I know for sure at least two people who read this each week were there, but maybe they don't remember it as well as I do. The party took place sometime before November 22, 1963, because that was the day I started my journal, and there is no mention of it in the writings I did. I do know several of the ones there are no longer with us, but in my mind, they will always still be a part of that memory, so in a way their memories live on. 

Passing Through

    On Memorial Day, Sue and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Richard and Mary Ann Simmons. He had called me and told me they would be passing through Memphis on their way from Texas to Nashville and asked if we could meet somewhere and visit. We met at a local barbecue place and had a good time visiting and talking over some Lee days along with catching up on our mutual military service. Richard did not graduate with the Class of'64 because his parents moved away from Huntsville before his senior year, but like many, he has always identified with our class and the days he spent walking the halls with us. In our conversation he inquired about how some of the classmates listed in last week's Memorial Day issue could have been killed before they graduated from Lee. I had to explain to him that they, like him, left Lee before they graduated, but will always be identified with the classes they started out with.

Lee Class of '68
50th Reunion
July 28, 2018

John and Sandy Cates

    We are working with the Lee High '68 50th Class Reunion Committee.  Greg Patterson asked that we send the 50th Class Reunion Invitation and Registration Form to you.  Please send/share the information with your Lee High friends and classmates.  We hope to have a great party and look forward to you/your classmates being there, too.