I guess it was nearly 150 years ago that my great grandfather, A.P. Monroe, help his daddy cure meat in the smokehouse behind their home in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina. Maybe it was watching the back-breaking life of a farmer, maybe it was the promise of progress and prosperity, but as soon as he was old enough, A.P. pressed on until he, his wife, Mamie and their surviving son arrived at Pine, Florida.
Business was booming in the rough land of the Big Scrub, and A.P. was soon operating a successful turpentine store. When profits were high, he bought the Horseshoe Ranch and built the Monroe House – complete with a smokehouse. Going out back at 5 in the morning, he did just as his daddy had taught him and smoked meat for no less than 12 hours. My grandmother, Allene, spent many Sunday afternoons drinking buttermilk under the cool shade of the balcony after a filling meal of smoked brisket and sweet corn. As she grew up, her daddy’s values stayed with her. And like him, wanted all life had to offer, so she headed off to college at FSU.