A ‘squirrely’ good time

Published 11:00 pm Friday, March 15, 2013

Photos by jaine treadwell Clark Allen and Pete Lott devoured a ton of food and shared a bushel of stories at the Green Squirrel Supper at Tarentum.

Photos by jaine treadwell
Clark Allen and Pete Lott devoured a ton of food and shared a bushel of stories at the Green Squirrel Supper at Tarentum.

As far as anyone knows, the Green squirrel supper tradition started back in 1926 on the riverbanks around Josie Beat.

Kirkland Green rivaled the Josie Beat moonshiners with his squirrel suppers and “near about” bested them, according to local lore.

James Henderson, laughing, said that he couldn’t speak from experience about the squirrel suppers that made Kirkland Green the guru of wild game cooking but he can have a lot to say about the Green squirrel suppers over the past 50 years and counting.

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“I’ve been coming and cooking at the suppers since 1959 and you won’t find any better wild game cooking anywhere,” Henderson said. “The suppers started with Kirkland Green and continued on through the family. Atlas Green is Kirkland’s great-grandson and he’s carrying on the family tradition down here at Green Acres Farms.”

Atlas Green said he looks forward to the squirrel suppers that are held the second Saturday in March just about as much as he enjoys the hog killings and syrup makings he hosts in the fall.

“We just all get together and have a good time,” he said. “We don’t send out invitations. People just know what we do and when we do it and they know that they are welcome.”

The squirrel suppers began more than 80 years ago just as that. Squirrel suppers.

“Cooking down on the river, squirrel stew was probably about all they had,” Henderson said. “Squirrel stew is just one of the many things that we have now.”

Wild hog, coon hash, deer rollups, liver and lights, deer sausage, pork a-plenty and catfish were the main meats but this year’s supper but that was just the beginning.

Almost everybody who attended the Green squirrel supper brought a dish and with 150 or more people there, that was a lot of dishes.

“Some people say they don’t eat coon or possum but then I don’t reckon they’ve ever been hungry,” Clark Allen said, laughing.

Allen has been coming to the Green squirrel suppers since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He said that, as much as he relishes the delicious wild game and all the trimmings, it’s the fellowship that keeps him coming back again and again.

“Ah, we sit around a swap stories about first one thing and then another,” he said. “Me and Pete (Lott) were just talking about coon hunting. When my dog’s sitting on a coon, why, that’s music to my ears.”

Several men stopped eating and walked closer to Allen, wanting to hear what was coming next.

“Let me tell you a little short story,” Allen said. “One night I came in from coon hunting. I put my dogs up and went to the wash shed and cleaned up. When I got in the house, I looked in the pie safe where Mama kept left over food — kind of like a refrigerator. She had a pot full of cornbread and turnip greens. I sat down and ate every bit of it. The next morning Mama said she put the leftovers in a pot in the pie safe for my dogs. I told her that I fed it to them last night.”

The men laughed, remembering, too, when they had eaten not so high on the hog.

“Food’s just better when you’re out here with friends, talking and telling stories,” Lott said. “This is the way life ought to be and, even if you didn’t have any more to eat than coon hash, it would be enough.”