“The day after Thanksgiving is…”Boondoggle Day”
For thirty some odd years, I have spent the day after Thanksgiving hanging out with my Uncle “Woody”, participating in an event we have affectionately called Boondoggle Day. First, let me give some background that, “Woody”, the youngest of my father’s fairly large family, is more like a brother, since he is close to my age and, we grew up a few blocks from each other when I was a kid. Over the years, although we have taken up residence in different areas of Illinois, Boondoggle Day has become one of those few times we can get together during the year without other obligations taking priority.
So right about now, you are probably asking, “What the hell is a “Boondoggle Day”? Well a “Boondoggle” according to Wikipedia, is a project that is a complete waste of time and money. But that’s the internet definition.
To us “Boondoggle Day” is that one special day out of the year for us guys to get together and, well, be “guys”. We began to call this event “Boondoggle” a number of years ago since the day often had no specific plan except to meet at Woody’s garage at some predetermined time. After that, all bets were off and what we would end up doing was anybody’s guess.
Inevitably the day would feature some meat sacrificed to the gods of Smoke, an adventure down some back country road and perhaps a few “barley sodas” shared while we mulled over a rusted hunk of vintage tin found along the way. Boondoggle eventually came to be our antithesis to “Black Friday”. Some people might say its just a goof off day. I am sure other people have their “day after Thanksgiving” rituals. This is ours. “Boondoggle Day” never been a plan, it is something that just occurs.
A typical “Boondoggle” day usually begins with a trip to a local diner for a hearty breakfast. Eggs, Pancakes, grits, country gravy, hash browns, with even more country gravy, washed down with copious amounts of coffee or coke. We then will generally head back to “Woody’s Garage” to get a few things ready, like preparing an obscenely large piece of meat for its daylong sit in the smoker. After we ensure the meat is set up for the long haul, we often adjourn for a trip out into the countryside. No GPS. No map. We just head out and let the road take us.
East? West? South? It all depends on the whims of the pilot and co-pilot.
Over the years we have been through multiple counties and journeyed between the central Illinois and Central Indiana. We have visited old farms, investigated derelict homes and probed junk yards hidden in back-country areas, run by itinerant veterans who look at you with just a hint of suspicion when you ask to take a look around.
We have meandered through the smallest of towns, ones that most people willingly pass by on the highway, knowing that some of the oddest treasures are often found in the back alleys of these places. All the time we are driving, Woody will be yelling “Slow your ass down”, since going over 20 Mph likely means you’ll miss spying that piece of vintage iron stuck in behind some farmer’s barn.
We’ve been down back roads where we had no idea where we were. We’ve stumbled upon things that were best not found. Once we found a place we were certain was some nefarious “den of inequity” that had obviously been closed down by the Feds…at least that’s what the stickers on the doors suggested.
If it is abandoned and has rusting vehicles around it, we are sure to take a moment to stop and look. We have brought back trophies over the years as well…old bottles, pitch forks, rocks, you name it. We have found many an interesting piece of vintage iron too.
Boondoggle Day is one of those types of things that every person needs to have in their life. We often don’t have the time to enjoy company, time to observe the world around us, a time to just be ourselves. We might all be little better off if we scheduled a “Boondoggle Day” for ourselves