Major and Margaret Meier de Cox have been hosting a barbecue
every November for 10 years, but this year, Saturday's event was even
more special because it celebrated Major's 60th birthday, which was
Sunday. Instead of presents, Margaret asked for the presence of friends
and items for a book of memories she compiled for Major.
There were messages from Gov. Don Siegelman and Rep.Johnny
Ford, the former mayor of Tuskegee, as well as from longtime
friends. Some brought greeting cards, while other wrote accounts of
long-forgotten events shared with Major.
The barbecue is actually a revival of a tradition begun by Major's
great-grandfather, who also was named Major. To coincide with the
beginning of hog killin' time on the farm in the fall, the first
gathering celebrated the birthday of Major's father, Charles.
Major is second oldest in a family of 11 brothers and sisters and it
became a family tradition to celebrate birthdays in this manner, but the
when the family left Smuteye in the 1950s. In the 1980s, after Major and
Margaret returned to the Montgomery area, the family refurbished the
plantation and the tradition was revived, but some modern touches were
The center of attention is still a whole pig roasted all night over
an open fire, but the many friends who come are invited to bring salads,
bread, chips, dips and desserts to share. The long table set up near the
horse pen is heavily laden with some of the best-covered dishes
imaginable. As luck would have it, the temperatures dropped sufficiently
by Saturday to make the day feel like a hog killin' event of years ago.
Margaret always stirs up her "Fabulous, Four-Alarm, 50-Gallon Chili"
in an 80-gallon cast iron syrup kettle set over an open fire. At 2:30
p.m., all present gathered for a group photograph [above] and formal
pork procession, as the cookers presented the roasted pork.
This year, Henry Pugh, pianist extraordinaire, came with his
keyboard in tow to play during the afternoon. Margaret said they just
plugged in an extra long extension cord so he could play in the
Wayne Jones, head hog roaster, John Moore and John
D. Cox were once again in charge of the all-night roasting. Chick
Cleveland was the Fire Master in charge of the wood gatherers. While
waiting to eat, children fed apples and peanuts to the goats and horses,
while some guests hiked through the woods and others toured the house,
which has historic significance to the family.
Although not all of his brothers and sisters could be here for his
birthday, Major was delighted to share the occasion with those who could
come. Here for the barbecue, as well as a black-tie seated dinner
Thursday evening in the Capital City Club, were Charles and Phyllis
Cox of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Donald and Jackie Cox, and
Ed and Mary Cox Beatty of Cincinnati; and Hobson and Ramona Cox,
and Vincent and Johnnie Cox of Montgomery.
Originally Published in the Montgomery
Advertiser, 14 November 2000