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I was traveling with two Canadian friends, going from Florida to Detroit, Michigan. One of them mentioned he was getting hungry. As this was their first visit to the United States, they wanted to try something special instead of the usual fast food junk.

As we drove along, I tried to think of something they might enjoy as well as remember for years to come.

"Hey, don't you guys have some really good Bar BQ down here in the states?" asked Bill.

"Well, we got the delicious McRib," I said, as I laughed.

"I don't mean stuff like that. I mean real Bar BQ. Stuff that's cooked for hours and real messy to eat."

"Well, we got chicken and rib places. Things like that."

"We have those places in Canada. I want real Bar BQ for a change," said Mark.

Well, I have never eaten any of it, but I have always heard that Blacks folks make the best Bar BQ," I told them.

"Well, let’s stop and get some," said Bill, with a big smile on his face.

"I have no idea where you would get it," I told them.

"Don't they have any black restaurants down here?"

"No, not very many. In fact, I don't think I have ever seen one, except in the black areas of town."

"Well, let's head to Blackville," said Mark.

I looked over the front seat and sort of rolled my eyes at him.

"What was that look for?" he questioned.

"You don't just drive into Blackville and get a meal down here."

"And, why not?"

"I don't know. You just don't do it," I told him.

Not much else was spoken for the next thirty minutes. All at once, Bill pulled into a gas station, stopped, and rolled down his window.

"Excuse me," he said to a black man pumping gas into his car. "Is there a black area around here anywhere?"

The black man looked up and stared directly at the three of us. He raised his arm slowly, and pointed his finger toward the North. "Knoxville, Tennessee -- thirty miles," he said.

"Thanks," said Bill as we drove off.

When we reached Knoxville, we stopped several times to ask directions to the black area of town. Each time we were given the same look we had received from the man at the gas station.

As we drove into "Blackville,” we began to drive up and down the streets looking for a sign that said, "Bar BQ".

"There's a sign, ‘Best Bar BQ in town.’ Right there," yelled Mark, pointing to a bright yellow sign with large red lettering.

Bill pulled over and parked in the small dirt area beside the building. The three of us got out and headed toward the front door. There were five or six black people standing outside. Each stared at us as we passed.

BOY! That sure smells good," replied Mark.

When we walked inside the stares were even more piercing. As we took our seats, the entire place became quiet. We sat for several minutes; no one came to take our order.

"EXCUSE ME," Bill said to a large black man standing behind the counter.

The man just ignored us.

"I think we had best go," I told Mark and Bill.

The three of us got up and headed toward the entrance. As we reached the doorway, I turned around and said "No problem, fellows." I was waving my hand back and forth. "Just showing my two white Canadian friends what it was like to be black in America. Now I guess they know."

No one said a word as we walked to the car.

"HEY!" yelled someone from behind us. I looked around and saw the large black man from behind the counter. He was waving his finger for us to come back.

The three of us got out of the car, walked over, and stopped in front of the man.

"You want Bar BQ, or you don't?" asked the man.

We followed him back inside, and for more than thirty minutes we ate the best Bar BQ I had ever tasted. When we had our fill, we tried to pay for our meal, but our money was refused.

As we left the establishment the large man walked to the doorway and yelled out, "How does it feel to be black?"

"Pretty darn good!" I was patting my full belly with both hands.

"And that's the way it should be," said the man. He smiled, laughed, and then waved us goodbye.

That was without a doubt, the best BAR BQ Joint in America.

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