Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Small Town America

Everyone in Rogers knows about Whitey’s Chicken. These barbeque chicken fundraisers are very popular and people from outside the city limits will come just to buy a chicken half...or ten! The barbeque fundraisers are for organizations such as the Rogers “Mounties” High School athletic program, Boy Scout troops, churches, non-profit groups, people with catastrophic or medical expenses, school-related functions such as Project Graduation, these are only a few of the groups who benefit from Whitey’s generosity.

It's a common sight in Rogers to drive by the downtown Susie Q Drive-In and see Whitey Smith across the street, sweating over the concrete pit, squinting in the sun as he turns his chickens over, the musky smell of the grilling sauce a permanent part of his clothes, the soot covering him from forehead to fingers. All of this, Whitey says, he does “for the kids.”


What stands out most about this man is his humility. Around the grill Whitey and his good friends from work cook tirelessly, and as a chicken breast leaves the sizzling grill, another one is placed down. They are a tightly knit group and can often be found enjoying each other’s company while cheering their Mounties on to victory. Parent volunteers spend countless hours wrapping the freshly cooked chicken in the tin foil sleeves and selling the chicken halves to customers that drive by. Kids make signs and run up and down the road bellowing chants for “Whitey’s chicken” at the top of their lungs, all the while dancing ridiculously next to cars while the drivers laugh at their antics. Whitey’s mantra has always been, “It’s for the kids. He wants to bring the good, hard working kids the help he can. “I enjoy kids. That’s my life,” he says.

Whitey and his wife Janice have two kids of their own, but they have adopted nearly the entire community into their family. It is estimated that Whitey Smith has given close to $1 million back to the community of Rogers. He wants no attention, but this soft-spoken, flannel-wearing man in an Ozark Fence Company hat deserves everything Rogers can give him!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing a piece of Americana. He sounds like a person who would be featured here locally on a segment titled "Hometown Hero". This is the way we're called to live isn't it. XXXMollye

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  2. What a special man! And what a wonderful lesson he's passing on to the kids.

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  3. Hooray for Whitey. When I was a freshman at the UofA, and there was a girl in my section of Fulbright who was from Rogers--Marilyn--wish I could remember her last name. Went home with her one weekend. It was the first time I had ever had fried dill pickles. Just wondering if Susie-Q Drive-In could possibly have been around in the 60's.

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  4. Whitey Smith is a cool guy. Wouldn't it be wonderful if his idea caught on... all over America?

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  5. What a wonderful post - a very special human being! Thanks for sharing this story today.

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  6. Isn't it great to live in a small community? Makes you feel like you belong :)

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  7. What a great post. Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story.

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  8. The food is great, and its a great cause, we plan on Whitey's once a month, or as often as they are cooking! I wonder if he has been featured on Ozarks at Large...

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