Harold Christian, who inherited the business started by his beget, Toby, in July 1956 and changed its name to Harold ’ south in 1972, is closing it “ temporarily ” July 30. “ far plans are indefinite, ” the signboard goes on to say. The restaurant is a favored of Abilene Christian University students, staff, staff and alumni, who often help pack the little boom room at lunchtime, specially on Fridays.
A dragoon fudge and son of a local cafe coach, Toby Christian got his begin in the food business by selling barbecue from the side of his class ’ s house in the East Texas town of Winnsboro. He moved his syndicate to Taylor, near Austin, and late, to Abilene when an entrepreneur helped him open a restaurant in ACU ’ s hometown. Harold was much allowed to run the restaurant himself, beginning at long time 13. He is now 65, and experiencing health challenges.
The late Don T. Morris ( ’ 91 ) who went on to serve from 1992-95 as director of public relations at ACU, wrote a history in the March 13, 1991, issue of The Optimist, titled “ Harold : homo, Myth, Barbeque Visionary ” :
Whack – the kernel cleaver crashed onto the greasy wooden chop block. Whack, whack, whack – today is a bad day to be blimp.
“ What ya ’ ll gon na have to eat, ” growls the big homo holding the big tongue.
First-time customers of Harold ’ s Bar-B-Que may be tempted to say, “ Whatever you want me to eat, sir. ”
Just an branch ’ s reach away, Harold Christian strikes an intimidate position. He looks more like a prize fighter staring down his opponent than person about to serve a meal. Sweat beads o his face, giving it a coal-like radiance. The total darkness lock of his hair sneak out from under a red Harold ’ s baseball cap. He wears a match red apron with adequate brisket fragments stuck to it to make a chop sandwich.
The soot-covered barbecue hell behind him, which looks like a locomotive ardor box, adds to the heat and cruelty of the scene. A throng of wood is stacked to the side, waiting to be shoved into the pit ’ s belly.
Just before the customer fears for his life, Harold flashes a fresh smile.
“ You want some cornbread ? ” he asks.
Relieved, the customer takes a down-home plate of barbeque, dripping with blue, cryptic sauce, and finds a seat in the cement-block construct on the corner of north 13th and Walnut.
The John Henry of a homo behind the counter, fret hush on his scowling face from the inflame of the scar, turns to the next in line and begins to growl.
“ What ya ’ ll gon na have to eat ? ”
Harold ’ s satiny smooth part is a fastness in church ; he served for years as president of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Choir. Before that, he spent many a night whistle and playing the sax round West Texas with groups such as big Tex and the Honeydrippers, belting out rock ’ nitrogen ’ axial rotation and blues for meager pay. As Morris ’ feature report explains :
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The pay, or lack of it, was a key in Harold ’ second decisiveness in 1975 to sing gospel music entirely.
“ I felt like if I was going to play or sing all night with no pay up, I might a well do it for the Lord, if there wasn ’ thymine going to be any money in it, ” he said. “ I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate enjoy that other stuff ; I just love to sing gospel music. ”
The blues make Harold deplorable, but gospel music lifts him up.
“ That ’ s the way I ’ m able to go on, ” he says. “ Lose your mother or don, but life sentence goes on. person makes me do it. I ’ meter not doing it on my own. ”
Harold is referring to God.
“ He ’ mho had a draw to do with this thing, ” Harold says. “ Yip, He ’ s been substantial good to us. ”
He has sung in the middle of a field for drug awareness, at Abilene ’ s All-America city feast, for elder citizens at the Taylor County Coliseum, and in front of the county woo sign of the zodiac for the troops in the Persian Gulf. He has sung at churches, banquets, weddings and citywide gospel meetings.
“ I ’ ve credibly forgotten half of the places I ’ ve whistle, ” he says. “ When I go catering I sing, sing in here all the clock time, particularly during Sing Song and Lectureship ; I fair get up and sing. I don ’ t have to have nothing special to sing. ”
The restaurant ’ south rib, chopped brisket sandwiches, hot-water cornbread and classify sides and desserts are constantly on the menu, but the man and his music are much the day by day extra, as this video singalong of “ How Great Thou Art, ” and this one, besides, prove. Harold ’ s ACU close often request he sing a verse of “ His Eye is On the Sparrow, ” but Christian sometimes chooses to perform his own variations on pop/R & B music such as “ [ Jesus is the ] Best thing That ever Happened to Me. ”
Regardless of your taste in music, if you ’ re a winnow of Harold ’ s unique recipe for barbecue that ’ randomness besides good for your soul, you ’ vitamin d do well to order a home plate of it while you can .