In a world driven by division, let’s sing praise for Leita Thompson. “Who the heck is that?” you ask in your distinctive voice. Hold your horses, hoss, and we’ll tell you.
Leita Thompson was a trailblazer and generous soul. Born in Arkansas in 1884, she joined the National Woman’s Party at age 16, working to pass universal suffrage in 1920. Little else is known about her early life, but it’s safe to say she probably didn’t have a Facebook account, an iPhone, or Amazon Prime. In the 1940s, Leita moved to Atlanta and began working in the mail department of a bank. A decade later, she became one of the first female bank executives in the country. You go, girl!
In 1946, Leita purchased 107 acres of land on Woodstock Road and lived there until she died in 1978. In 1956, she began The Leitalift Foundation to help support working women in making a living and achieving their goals. Over the years, 156 students, nurses, retired and professional women have received L.F. grants. Leita lived on by helping others.
In 2001, her Foundation deeded the land as a gift to the city of Roswell under the condition that the city rent the property’s two small houses and 16 apartments at below-market rates to single and retired women aged 60 and older for at least five years.
Roswell kept its end of the bargain even longer, and today, hikers can enjoy The Leita Thompson Memorial Park with a 2.1-mile loop trail winding through beautiful natural scenery. Trail Master Guy selected this hike, and we were glad he did. If you haven’t test-driven this trail, lace up and go––it’s a winner.
Guy was joined by Brad and Patrick, accompanied by Fio, Elvis, and Nilla (she was sporting a new collar since she slipped her old collar on our last hike and took off for the river). She’s a good paddler but she’s no Mark Spitz. Though with a mustache you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart.
“Where was the rest of the gang?” you ask in your curious voice.
Roy was off to Manhattan and Greenport hob-knobbing with swells and the intelligentsia while strolling through The MET and tony art galleries, his arms behind his back, carefully examining canvases and saying things like, “The color palette and brush strokes are a definitive statement on philosophical postmodernism’s influence on Belgian gardening techniques.” Duh, obviously!
Steve was still on the DL and traveling to Tennessee for a family wedding, and whirlwind George took off to the winds to visit Colorado for his documentary. The three will soon drop an album called Traveling Trailheads.
The hiking Trailheads began on their path to truth and barbecue. Guy told his tales from the road and enjoyment of sharing time with his son Evan as he relocated from Colorado to California––if the young man wants the trifecta of “C” states, his next move will have to be Connecticut.
The Tucker men stopped in Las Vegas and offered legal tender to greedy machines. Oh, Vegas, how you tempt and disappoint. Behind your rhinestones and glitter is a strong, quick hand reaching for the wallet and having its way.
We discussed our love of “1883,” which we believe to be Taylor Sheridan’s best work, and goodness knows that guy loves to work with his 112 shows airing nonstop. Brad relayed some work stories that made Guy and Patrick happy to be out of the game.
The Leita Thompson Memorial Park Trail has good elevations and is well-maintained—little wonder it is popular with hikers. We saw many hikers and their dogs along the way. Elvis, Fio, and Nilla were slightly intimidated by the well-coiffed poodles passing by. The dogs had confidence and projected superiority (“putting on airs,” as we say in these parts). The purebreds would probably finish their hike and eat a lunch of petite prime filets, foie gras, and profiteroles. Our K-9 crew would be happy to receive scraps of barbecue. Speaking of which, it was lunchtime.
Patrick was determined that a virgin territory trail deserved a fresh smoked meat source. He had done recognizance on a nearby joint we had never visited called SmokehouseQ in a plaza that houses the Taj Mahal of Publix Supermarkets (the ice cream section alone is the size of most convenience stores).
The barbecue counter was attended by a friendly and helpful guy named Chris, he's also the Pit Master. Chris guided us through the menu and told us about its history. The place used to be part of the Grand Champions (G.C.) BBQ empire. Now, it is SmokehouseQ, and as the menu demonstrates, it offers anything your smoked meat palate desires.
The place is stocked with trophies and pig knick-knacks. We liked the décor but grabbed one of the picnic tables out front so the dogs could join us. Lickety-split, a water bowl appeared. As Patrick got on the ground, it was explained the water was intended for the dogs. “Fair enough,” he said, getting up and dusting off himself. "I don't see why they get special treatment."
Steve joined us for lunch. Although his doctor had not cleared him for hiking or pickleball, eating barbecue was fine (we don’t know that for a fact since Steve didn’t ask his medic––but we’re pretty sure barbecue is an integral part of the food pyramid). We placed our orders, took seats, and listened to our stomachs growl in unison as the ground waved, concrete buckling.
Chris brought us our trays of grub, and we dug in with gusto and eating utensils. Steve huddled over his pulled pork sandwich, topped with cool creamy slaw and pickles. He dug in and was in pig heaven. He loved his brisket chili. This version is on the soupier side of the chili spectrum and comes with beans and veggies. The flavor is fantastic.
Guy had the Chicken Philly. We wondered about his order, considering our Trail Master claims to be an Atlanta Braves fan. Yet, he ordered a bastardization of Philadelphia’s signature sandwich––but maybe we are overly sensitive. (Was he an agent of Phillies Nation?)
Whatever the motivation, Guy liked his hoagie outfitted with smoked chicken, caramelized onions, and gooey provolone cheese. He also dug his crisp slaw and scooped the chili into his mouth like it would soon be stolen--had someone squealed our plan?
Brad ordered the smoked sausage and liked the flavor but wished it had a bit more spice and “oomph.” That said, he made short work of the links. He and Patrick both had the green beans, which were fine. Green beany, if you will. Brad was a big fan of the collard greens, though. He said the flavor was fantastic—the real deal.
Patrick sat behind his tray of tender baby back ribs, and those babies were mighty delicious. The lean meat ate like a dream coming off the bone with almost no coaxing and had a subtle smokey taste. Even our rib expert, George, would give these baby backs his seal of approval. The accompanying pickle slices are loaded with flavor. A cucumber never got so snazzy. Give them a go.
Let’s get saucy. SmokehouseQ offers four varieties of sauce: spicy, original sweet, South Carolina mustard, and vinegar. All are good, and we were particularly impressed by the mustard sauce––it jazzed up the pork perfectly.
Try them all, mix and match. There are no bad calls here. And yes, if you were wondering, the dogs did enjoy their table scraps––take that, you fancy poodles with your fluffy ‘doos and fancy fare!
Trailheads were impressed with both SmokehouseQ and Leita Thompson Memorial Park. It’s a wondrous thing to discover new adventures for the palate and curious feet. Let us all appreciate the generosity of trailblazers like Leita and enjoy her gift to our community. Long may she reign!
Rating: Four Ribs*
4401 Shallowford Rd #168
Roswell GA 30075
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing. Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy. Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool. Who are we to argue? Enjoy.
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