My Father, a.k.a. Johnny Persimmon Seed

Persimmon tree planted by my father, eleventh hole, Kansas City Country Club, September 28, 2013.

Persimmon tree planted long ago by my father. Eleventh hole, Kansas City Country Club, September 28, 2013.

Many years ago, my father planted two persimmon trees, a male and a female, in the rough on the eleventh hole at the Kansas City Country Club, where he was a member. Persimmon is the wood that the best wooden woods were made from, and he felt that every golf club ought to pay tribute. (Persimmon is as hard as ebony. It’s still used for pool cues and archery bows, among other useful implements.) Our behind-our-house neighbors had a huge persimmon tree, which dropped plum-size fruits into their yard and ours. My friends and I used to collect the squishiest ones and throw them at each other—another important application. My father never extended his persimmon-planting program beyond the eleventh hole at the Kansas City Country Club, but the idea was a good one and someone ought to take it up again—maybe me.

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I was in Kansas City for my fortieth high-school reunion, and I played golf at K.C.C.C. with my classmates Dick, Hinkley, and Pajamas. They’re still in the witness protection program because of stuff we did when we were teenagers, so I can’t show you a photo, but you can read a little bit about them here. I also played a round at Indian Hills Country Club, which, like K.C.C.C. and Swope Memorial, was designed by A. W. Tillinghast. The guys I played with at Indian Hills are much younger than I am, so I can show their faces:

Adam, me, Scott, Ricardo, Indian Hills Country Club, September 26, 2013.

Adam, me, Scott, Ricardo, Indian Hills Country Club, September 26, 2013.

While I was in town, I also made mandatory stops at Winstead’s and Arthur Bryant’s. Bryant’s is the world’s best barbecue place. The health department shut it down for a few days recently, because of a misunderstanding concerning cockroaches, or something. The sandwiches are so big that they give you extra bread, which you can also use as supplemental napkins.

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Bryant’s barbecue sauce, if you aren’t familiar with it, is unlike any you’ve ever tasted. New batches are aged in the restaurant’s front window, and the jug in the photo below may have been there when I was in high school. The dark liquid near the top is of unknown composition.

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I keep a case of Bryant’s sauce in my sauce cellar, in my basement, along with a case from Gates & Sons, which is Bryant’s main competitor. The two sauces are so different that you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can enjoy them both, or you can do what my wife and I often do, which is to mix them together. In any configuration, they are so much better than other so-called barbecue sauces that it’s almost ridiculous.

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5 thoughts on “My Father, a.k.a. Johnny Persimmon Seed

  1. Ah the days of refinishing persimmon drivers in the 70’s! I still have a couple in the garage a Hogan and a Harry Busson as used by Bernhard Langer. Harry Busson was a clubmaker at Walton Heath Golf Club where the Ryder Cup was held around ’82. My first experience of persimmon was in ’73 when I worked at Old Fold Manor G.C in Hertfordshire North London, my boss had a George Bayer driver that he let me borrow using a small 1.62″ Uniroyal plus six golf ball with hexagonal dimples I used to hit it miles.
    I guess planting titanium steaks just wouldn’t be quite the same!

  2. Had the opportunity to play KCCC a few years ago. Great club, very under rated. Not from Kansas City but feel like its my second home.

    On the reunion, – Rockhurst or Pembroke Hill by chance?

    • Pembroke Hill–where my father also went, also from kindergarten through twelfth grade (although he repeated kindergarten). Only two buildings that were there when I graduated are still there now: the field house and the gym. And there doesn’t seem to be a place for students to smoke.

  3. You mix the sauces together …. heresy!

    Pembroke HIll used to (and may still) offer mini-courses, which enterprising seniors often turned into a January vacation, by performing and “independent study” project. I am reminded of Andy Colum and Bobbie Jones, both class of 1983, who thoroughly researched, did multiple on-site studies at Bryant’s and Gates, interviewed key players, and ultimately penned a fantastic report on the “History of BBQ in Kansas City.” Please get your hands on this and post it.

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