By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Last summer was about 90 days that changed my life forever.
Throughout June, the staff of The Millington Star packed up our office in preparation to move to Bartlett for our day-to-day operation. Since the move, several residents of Millington and South Tipton county have found their way to 2850 Stage Village Cove to visit The Star.
Then as September approached, I was back to packing. This time I was throwing away the bachelor life to get ready to marry Ruth Montgomery. As those major changes were taking a toll on my life, family and friends brought food my way to give me some stability and comfort.
This year’s Best in Food took place from June to October. Loyal readers and supporters of The Star gave us a wonderful, loving sendoff to our new office. Then many from Flag City and T-County wanted to celebrate my personal milestone with gifts of grub.
Best Foreign Food
Bo Griffin returned to Bolton High School this past year as principal. Known in the area from Raleigh-Egypt to Millington Central, Griffin is a tireless worker on behalf of his students and colleagues. Griffin could be seen this past school year rooting for both the Lady Pharaohs and Lady Trojans in Regional volleyball. When he’s not busy, Coach G makes sure guests visiting Bolton are welcomed. During the 2018 Region 7-3A Basketball Tournament, Wildcat Country was filled with tasty barbecue, fully-loaded salad bar and a variety of chicken. But what won Bolton this award this year was Griffin making sure we had an ice cream option during Week 1 football action. It was hot a usual for a gridiron contest in August. To cool us off, we had Rocket popsicles and the classic FatBoy Ice Cream sandwiches. I only ate two of those ‘bad’ boys that night — willpower.
Memphis summer and heat are best friends. So October’s coolness is a welcome feel to my skin. The 10th month of the year can flip to cold too quick. Near the end of the regular season for football, rivals the Munford Cougars traveled up the highway to take on the Brighton Cardinals. That meant my little brother Colin Murray and me were making a trip to paradise… Paradise Grill located at 9234 Highway 51 in Atoka. We both enjoyed a couple of the eatery’s signature dishes. I recommend the barbecue salad and barbecue nachos. And to wash it down, some of the best sweet tea in the business is ideal. But I later paid for the cold refreshing taste of that tea. The atmosphere of the game was cold and rainy. I covered a great football game freezing outside and inside.
Before The Millington Star moved to its new office, Brighton resident Chris Gordon threw the staff a party. It was her way of saying thank you for coverage of her business and children who graduated from Brighton High School. Gordon provided a full spread from a veggie tray to two different types of wings. The best part was her banana pudding with fresh strawberries — a past winner of Creative Genius.
Speaking of Creative Genius, I have three words for you — Bacon Wrapped Chicken. Former Shelby County deputy and Millington Central High School campus officer ‘Elmo’ McDonald moonlights as a championship griller. I learn this information minutes before the 2017 M&M Bowl between the Munford Cougars and Millington Trojans. The adorable smile of Linda Harris welcomed me to the VIP section. After my hug, Ms. Linda saw a puzzled look on my face. My normal goofy expression was enhanced by wondering about the delicious aroma coming from the pit. ‘Oh that! Officer McDonald is grilling something special. Let’s see if he’ll let you have a piece,’ Linda said.
Elmo was too happy to share his greatness from the grill. As soon as he said bacon, my heart was won over. Tender chunks of white breast meat seasoned with thick slices of smokey bacon caressing the chicken. His blends of flavor give the combination a sweet, tangy kick. Those three pieces I ate tickled my soul Elmo.
The Rex Waits Award is staying home in Millington with the staff of MCHS showing out five times this year during the football season. But the best of the best came out Sept. 22 for Hall of Fame Night. I literally had to fix two plate just to get all the food that was available. As current students kept the flies away, several of the honorees flew to the spread of grilled meats, homemade desserts and freshly prepared sides.
It was an honor to share a table with members of the best football team in MCHS history. For a moment, players from 2007 took a backseat to the cohesive unit assembled on my plates.
Best Hot Dog
I was able to sneak in one last Rebel Dog before I got hitched. Since my marriage, the delicious jumbo frank still taste the same. I don’t know why I thought it would be different. But the last single-man Rebel Dog was eaten in early September during a TRA Football game. The Rebels were in the middle of a 5-0 start and dominated Greenfield. A grilled Rebel Dog with sweet relish was the perfect way to… relish my next-to-last Friday night as a bachelor.
Mrs. April Simpson’s peanut butter cake made a gooey surprise appearance to me during a Munford/Brighton Volleyball contest. Ms. April, who is looking good in her weight-loss efforts decided to sabotage my diet with her wedding gift. I quickly forgot about the calories once I cut a wedge out of that sweet structure. Two pieces were devoured before the night was over. I did manage to share a couple of slices. The combination of tasty icing and moist cake will always be a welcome gift for any occasion.
Best Food Moment
This year’s best moment is short and sweet. Beloved friend of the paper Charles Maddox drove out to Bartlett in October to maintain his tradition of giving us popcorn balls. With us consolidating with our sister papers The Bartlett Express, The Collierville Independent and The Shelby Sun Times, he brought a few more to make sure everybody got one. I was out on assignment and just missed the man who is like a grandfather to me. Once I saw the popcorn ball on my desk, I knew then the bond The Millington Star has with the community it has called home since 1951 is alive and well.
My last official Taco Bell Tuesday from the Millington office. As the staff at the 4811 Navy Road prepared to say goodbye to routine weekly visit, they made sure the bag was packed with love and appreciation for Mr. Taco Bell Tuesday. Ms. Christie and crew always do an outstanding job and give me the most friendly service. Countless smiles, hugs and sharing of the heart has made my Taco Bell Tuesdays priceless. At least once a month I ride out to Flag City to get my Taco Bell fix. Instead of cinnamon twist or sweet treats, the best dessert is the embrace of my friends at the Taco Bell in Millington.