By Gerry Fischer
The first Derby party I ever attended, was in Pleasure Ridge Park, Kentucky. It was at the parent’s house of Bob End. Bob and I worked together at Convenient Industries of America, and I had just started with them. He invited us over, and there I had my first bowl of burgoo and saw my first roast pig with an apple in its mouth. When I looked it in the eye, it freaked me out a little bit. The burgoo was wonderful and the roast pork was just fine, once you got use to the pig laying on his belly with people picking and cutting at it. When we moved to Florida and settled in Seffner, with the Shop-N-Go Convenience Store chain, my son-in-law had built a screened Florida room over our patio, and we decided to celebrate and throw a Derby Party on the first Friday in May. I made a big kettle of burgoo on the Thursday before.
I called a delicatessen that caters, and they procured a pig, to roast, but they didn’t do it like I asked and expected. They were located in the old Cuban cigar section called Yebor, City. I asked the proprietor to roast the pig with an apple in its mouth, on a large platter of greenery. He told me for the amount of people I was inviting, a forty-pound pig would be ample. The afternoon before I called him and asked if he had the pig and was an apple in its mouth? Yes, and yes.
Arriving home, I carried the pig into the dining room, and slid it out of its large paper bag. Oh no! The pig was lying flat on its right side with an apple in its mouth, looking like it ran in the road to get the apple and was hit by a car. True it was on a bed of greenery, but the only thing missing were tire tracks. Fran suggested we see if we could put it on its belly, but found that roast pigs are really stiff. I could get it on its feet, but when I stood it up and held it, it was round on one side, but flat as a pancake on the other. Fran said maybe we could put the flat side up against a wall. I wasn’t sure. I tried to prop it up, but it fell over and I had to hold it in place. I called Annie Bartolloni, my secretary who was always bailing me out of trouble, and she said her husband knew what to do.
The week before the party, I trimmed the bushes, cleaned he pool and re-mulched the entire yard. Fran had bought toilette paper that had little horses on them and we had Derby coasters and several T.V.s in different rooms. I also found plastic silver colored cups similar to julep cups, and Fran even bought olives. This party was going to rock.
The people began to arrive and some brought swim attire. Annie’s husband was Cuban and he made an island garlic sauce that was out of this world. He pulled the meat from the pig and we made bar-b-que of half, with the garlic sauce for the other half. Some people were getting ready to go in the pool, when a tremendous thunderstorm came up and washed all the mulch into the water. The pool looked like a dirt road. Half our guests were in the Florida Room hoping the storm would soon end, but it didn’t. Meanwhile the buffet was set in the dining room and I called to let everyone know, when I heard a loud crash and people yelling. The roof on the Florida Room had caved in. No one was hurt, but when I looked for my son-in-law, all I could see was his backside as he ran out the front door. One of the lady guests asked as she departed, if she could have a role of the toilette paper as a souvenir. That was our first and last Derby party.
Monday at work, people averted their eyes. I was embarrassed. Our purchasing agent told me this was the first party he attended, that really brought down the roof.