Thomas G. Doty

Flight 11 Memorial in Unionville, Missouri (photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

Flight 11 Memorial in Unionville, Missouri (photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

Shortly before Continental Airlines flight 11 went down May 22, 1962, Thomas Doty, a married man with a five-year-old daughter, had purchased six sticks of dynamite for 29 cents each, and placed the explosives in the used towel bin of the plane’s right rear lavatory. The resulting explosion brought the plane down near Unionville, Missouri, killing all 45 crew and passengers on board.

Doty had purchased a life insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha for $150,000, the maximum available. He also had another $150,000 in additional insurance (some purchased at the airport) and death benefits. Doty had recently been arrested for armed robbery and was to soon face a preliminary hearing in the matter.

Author Arthur Hailey based a subplot of his 1968 novel Airport on the Flight 11 bombing.

Southern Foodways Alliance Does it Up Right in Napa

Pitmasters Nick Pihakis, Daniel Patterson, Rodney scott, Samuel Jones, Drew Robinson, Nicolas Pihakis, Jamey Whetstone (owner, Whetstone Winery), Christopher Kostow, and Stephen Barber.

Pitmasters Nick Pihakis, Daniel Patterson, Rodney Scott, Samuel Jones, Drew Robinson, Nicolas Pihakis, Jamey Whetstone (owner, Whetstone Winery), Christopher Kostow, and Stephen Barber.

When I signed up to attend the Southern Foodways Alliance Potlikker dinner in Napa Valley, I didn’t know what to expect. Northern California has certainly become one of America’s premier dining regions – but barbecue?

The event was held August 18 on the lush grounds surrounding the 19th-century French-style chateau of Whetstone Winery. Before dinner, thirsty guests imbibed on outstanding wines provided by Whetstone. But, to my surprise, the handcrafted beer chilled in washtubs was “imported” from Tennessee.

And when it was time to eat, all doubts about unfamiliar barbecue were dispelled, as pitmasters from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama dished up some of the best pulled pork and ribs I’d ever eaten.

These guys had actually pulled their gigantic pits all the way to California, just for the event. And as it turns out, most of them also compete in the New Orleans annual “Hogs for a Cause” charity cookoff.  Proceeds from this event go to families with children who have cancer.  Hogs for a Cause is near and dear to my family, since my stepson Trey competes every year and especially since his two-year-old daughter Margaux is recovering from the disease.

Hard at work at the barbecue pits.

Hard at work at the barbecue pits.

It was also fun in Napa connecting with Potlikker’s organizers from the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA). SFA documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. The group sets a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.

A member-supported non-profit, based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, SFA stages symposia, produces documentary films, collects oral histories, sponsors scholarship, mentors students, and publishes great writing. Donations from generous individuals, foundations, and companies fund their good work.

I’ve been a member of SFA for many years and consider their work and research important to the understanding of Southern food. And I now also know they know how to throw a good party.