The Legacy of G-Daddy Sauce
"G-Daddy,” as he was affectionately called by his great-granddaughter Norah, was the grandfather of Wilmington, NC, resident Chris Cook. Norah knew him for only a short time, but during the four years they had together the two had an inseparable bond. Child-like in each one’s right, G-Daddy and Norah were one in the same.
J.P. Smith, a World War II veteran, was from Oglethorpe County, a rural area just outside of Athens, Ga. He was raised a country boy and his daddy taught him how to hunt, tend to livestock, and pick okra and cotton without a complaint. His daddy also taught him how to build things, and that’s when J.P. found his calling. He was born to be a carpenter.
In the 1930s, J.P. volunteered to join President FDR's CCC Camp program that gave young men the opportunity to provide income to their families during the Great Depression. During that time, he had an instrumental hand in the construction of the Newfound Gap thoroughfare in North Carolina now known as a section of the Great Smokey Mountains Parkway.
J.P. was drafted into the US Army in 1941 and deployed to the South Pacific. After his company’s cook was killed in combat, his commander asked the soldiers, “Who out of this group can cook?” J.P. raised his left hand. “Then you’re the company cook, Smith!” and he served his country and his fellow troops until the end of the war.
After returning to the rural farmlands outside Athens, Ga., J.P. married the love of his life, Syble Matthews, in 1945. He resumed his trade as a carpenter and became a successful home builder while raising three beautiful girls. He provided well for his family throughout the years, teaching his daughters to have respect for themselves, their elders and others they met along the way.
As years turned into decades, there were endless meals served and a million heavenly graces said at the Smith kitchen table. No one knew, however, that J.P. always gave extra thanks for and a private wink to the special sauce laying wait in front of his own dinner plate.
As the family grew, Granny [Syble] would ask the grandkids at supper, "Do you want A-1 or Heinz-57 on that?" J.P. would grin a bit as he suggested, "Why don't you try some of my sauce on that?"
J.P.’s sauce became a permanent fixture on the kitchen table every morning, noon and night―garnishing scrambled eggs at breakfast, white bread sandwiches for lunch, and smothering the skillet-grilled pork chops served at supper.
The requests for sauce kept coming from both family and friends. “Do you have any extra, Grandaddy?” a grandson would ask. Or a supper guest would plead, “J.P., do you have one extra bottle to go?”
His grandchildren from Illinois and Nebraska smuggled bottles home after each holiday visit. His only advice to them … “If it gets too hot,” he would proclaim, “just put some vinegar in it!”
J.P. Smith passed away in 2009 related to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 90 years old. He never sold one lick, taste or bottle of his sauce. For J.P., his sauce was always a gift.
He is now fondly remembered by his nickname “G-Daddy,” thanks to his great-granddaughter, Norah. She was the little girl who adored a man she knew was special even before she could comprehend how special he really was. They loved each other in their own extraordinary way.
Granny Smith, who passed away in February of 2014, was able to write down J.P.’s original sauce recipe before he was unable to recall its ingredients. Chris and his wife have been making G-Daddy sauce according to Granny’s scribbled recipe for their family and friends for years.
Thank you G-Daddy and Granny for the gift of sauce we continue to receive every day. Thank you both for allowing us to share your gift with others who also enjoy a little bit of sweet and a little bit more of hot in their life each day. ~