Fourth of July with Hunter Spence

Hunter. What can I say? I loved him. Native of Culpepper, Virginia. Beloved prop man at the Yale School of Drama. (Here he is in one of his mask-making classes.) He cooked like an angel. His chicken divan was divine. He kept generations of starving, orphaned grad students and their spouses from suffering Thanksgiving Deprivation and Christmas Dinner Withdrawal. He won competitions for cake decorating, and also for something which he (in Southern lingo) called “congealed salads,” which means, to Yankees, monster jello creations.

Once, on the Fourth of July, he served us a congealed salad three feet high, in the shape of a glistening big blue rocket, with yellow stars and red and white stripes around its nozzle, stiffened with asparagus spears, oh it was outrageous. That same Glorious Fourth we sat on his back steps while he grilled an appetizer of jumbo shrimp, marinated in garlic and melted butter, to be dipped while still piping hot into fresh homemade guacamole. Then, when we had all stuffed ourselves on shrimp and guacamole, we went in the house to a full Fourth of July chicken divan dinner, complete with homemade baking powder biscuits, cream gravy with giblets, two kinds of potatoes, candied yams, three veg, two cakes, all the likker you could drink of course because this was Hunter’s house, and the aforementioned patriotic, rocket-shaped congealed salad.

I could tell more Hunter stories, but I’m getting fat just telling this one.

Hunter’s smoky egg dip
makes a lot

12 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and diced
1-1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2T softened butter
1T lemon juice or vinegar
8 to 12 drops of hot sauce
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine. Beat medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat again before serving, if it sits around before you serve it. Serve with crackers or breads.


Academics in technical theatre like Hunter tend to be mild-mannered guys with pocket protectors called “techies.” (Think Mythbusters.) The union guys are a very different animal, emphasis on animal. Don’t call them techies. I’ve been married to a collitch-boy techie, now a union stagehand, for <mumble> years. It was only a matter of time before I wrote about these guys.

For one thing, union stagehands have nicknames. Not every guy earns one. The stories of how they get those nicknames are … let’s just say I can’t put them in fiction because you wouldn’t believe me. King of Hearts is about how a guy almost got a nickname, a degraded, humiliating, life-shattering nickname that could have followed him to his grave, and the woman who saves him from it.

About Jennifer Stevenson

Jennifer Stevenson’s Trash Sex Magic was shortlisted for the Locus First Fantasy Novel Award and longlisted for the Nebula two years running. Try her fantasy series Hinky Chicago, which is up to five novels, her paranormal romances Slacker Demons, which are about retired deities who find work as incubi, or her women’s fiction fantasy series Coed Demon Sluts, about women solving life’s ordinary problems by becoming succubi. She has published more than 20 short stories.

Find Jennifer at the Book View Cafe blog, at the second row at fast roller derby bouts in Chicago, or on Facebook.