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July 15, 2003

I was glad to see that story in the Oklahoma City newspaper the other day about the return of Joe Davidson and his brother, Roger, both former Perry residents, to the manufacturing scene in Oklahoma. For some peculiar reason, the story had an Enid dateline, although far as I can determine the Davidsons have no business operation in our Garfield county neighbor.

Joe, of course, is the originator of the Oklahoma Joe's cookers, the big units used by barbecue chefs in this country and abroad to turn out some of the finest barbecue you'll find outside of Kansas City. Joe, 41, has been making and selling these since the 1980s when he was pursuing a degree in agricultural education at OSU. After graduation, he came to Perry, set up shop and began cranking out the cookers on an assembly line basis. He hired a lot of welders and others for his facility, which changed locations quite a bit as they became better known and the market continued to grow. After a transitional period, in which the trade name was sold to a group in New Braunfels, Texas, then reaquired by Joe, Roger has opened the former production facility on Fifteenth Street. You can see a couple of their cookers on the front lawn as you drive by there.

Joe is returning to the world of barbecue cooking competition with a successful restaurant in Kansas City, Kan., called by many the central source of good, authentic pork and beef barbecue.

The odyssey of Oklahoma Joe's has been a relatively brief one up to this point (compared to some others), but the Davidsons are hard at it again, and the demand for their cookers goes on unabated. It's good to have those buildings on the west side of town busy once again and to have Roger back in our midst. The article in the Oklahoma City newspaper says the popularity of these cookers remains high. Here's hoping the business continues to grow for a long time to come.

Our recent family weekend in Kansas City confirmed that everything is still up to date there, and it is a perfect place for folks to get together. Of course, in our case that included a trip to Kauffman Stadium where the hometown Kansas City Royals extended their lead in their division of the American League by outscoring the Detroit Tigers in a four-game series. We also saw our one and only grandson take a turn at pitching for the Shawnee Mission East freshman ball club. Tom's team lost, but it was a fun game just the same. The greatest part of it all was having so many of the family together for an all-too-brief period. We attended church with daughter Kathy and her brood Sunday morning and lo and behold there we ran into Brook Easter, who graduated from Baylor last year and now is employed by a banking firm in Kansas City. She teaches a Sunday School class at the church we attended. These Perry youngsters do get around.