I learned of Ed’s passing while onboard a small yacht in Keppel Marina in Singapore in a brief email from my dear friend Capt. Sid Caradine, obviously sent well after Sid’s normal early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise routine.
It is sad I should be so far away as I would have come to the funeral stateside and ironic since Ed was always eager to hear of my foreign adventures, especially when it involved the local foods and restaurants.
He was always intrigued by the Singaporean tradition of Hawker stands where families sold local delicacies based on household recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation out of places often smaller than his fabled cookout barn on Old West Point Road near Catalpa Creek.
While Ed was a devout Catholic he was always at loggerheads with the constantly changing dogma of the Catholic Church and was eternally planning road trips to find a monastery or other Catholic venue that still offered the traditional Latin Mass. Perhaps you could call Ed’s three passions a trinity: cooking, discussing politics and traditional Catholicism.
Nowhere was this trinity more aptly seasoned and stirred into the melting pot of life than via the storied evening cookouts at Ed’s homestead. They were unforgettable events that could have been lifted from the writings of Faulkner. Ed was not only chief cook and bottle washer but held court in the strictest sense of the word. Capt. Sid was usually the bailiff often assisted by Ed’s son Joey.
Given the tumultuous events of false “Hope and Change” that have characterized the Obama Administration and Washington in general over the nearly past decade, the discussions were a lively boy’s night out with a fifth of bourbon and fine cigar.
The Lincolnesque J Randolph Lipscomb Esq. was usually sitting in for the prosecution and the ever affable David C. Owen Esq. usually sitting in for the defense. Either would have given Gregory Peck a run for the money as Atticus Finch. Either Gene Imes or Scott Berry usually were foreman of the jury that usually consisted of five or six regulars and a floating pool of semi-regulars and the occasional new recruit such as myself.
There was no such thing as political correctness as all were free to speak their minds in a no-holds-barred verbal repartee that did not end till well after sunset. Politics, bourbon, cigars, great food and religion were a powerful drawing card as many would wait with bated breath waiting to hear of the next event at Ed’s.
Many would arrive still wearing their work clothes on the way home from a long day. It did not matter if the speaker had a sheepskin from Notre Dame or a working man’s PhD of sweat and toil, the passion and love for this country was equally and eloquently verbalized.
You could look around that group and visualize yourself back a patron of Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern leading up to the Revolutionary War.
Judge Ed always made sure everybody had equal time on the stand and was equally well fed, with Capt. Sid or Joey introducing the newcomers to the veterans and vice versa. The city-state of Washington was always judged and found wanting and everybody would leave well satisfied and wanting another evening in Ed’s food court.
I am sure that Ed’s prayers were finally answered when St Peter met him at the Pearly Gates reciting: Requiem æternam dona ei Domine; et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.
As for me he was a character that was larger than life; one of a kind for whom I will hold a special memory for the precious times I was fortunate to be present when Ed Phillips held court at his homestead.
Desmond McGrath, a native of Newfoundland, lives in South Louisiana and travels the world as an engineering consultant, photographer, political commentator and poet. His email address is email@example.com.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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