Reggie Crowder, 1963-2009
I learned today that my friend Reggie Crowder passed away on Sunday. Reggie owned Dee’s Q, the neighborhood roadside barbecue stand that I’ve loved for 4 years. If I remember correctly, Reggie told me once he opened Dee’s in August of 2004. I saw it for a few months on my way home every day, before I finally tried it. And it was love at first bite. I quickly learned why: Reggie grew up in the next town over in West Tennessee, and he cooked his barbecue just like I remembered it from home.
Nashville’s a bit of a hybrid barbecue town. You can find a little bit of everything here. I have the pleasure to have known many kinds of barbecue, thanks to friends and relatives who live all over the barbecue states. So I’ve had your brisket, your vinegar-base, your heavy, sticky sauce. And while I don’t even often turn down mustard barbecue [but really, South Carolina, is that right? I think not.], my love remains the West Tennessee barbecue of my childhood. A bit of sauce, but not too saucy. Tomatoes and vinegar in the sauce, but not too much of either. You should be tasting the meat here, not the sauce.
So once I happened up to Reggie’s stand, I came back again and again. I even ate barbecue a few times during my two vegetarian stints [first things first, people], and I’d stop by just for some of his fried okra, too. My whole family loved Reggie and his barbecue, even the ones who live out of state. I guess the home-folks connection helped, but the barbecue was critical, too.
My dad and I saw Reggie in the late fall, and he told us he’d had quadruple bypass surgery last summer. When he died, Reggie was 45. Just bad luck in the gene pool is all you can say there, I guess. He was doing well when I saw him this fall, but I understand from a friend he’d been back in the hospital recently.
I just hate this. Reggie was one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. And he was living his dream with Dee’s Q. I don’t have anything profound to add here. I’m not one to go around saying how this is God’s will or whatever. I think the universe is random and capricious, but most days I’m glad to be part of it. Today’s not one of those days. I am grateful to have known Reggie Crowder. Peace and good barbecue to you, my friend.
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