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Collage of Thurman and Hisako, pit

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The roots of The Salt Lick run back to Mississippi in the mid-1800s. Scott Roberts, the current owner of the Salt Lick, had a great-grandmother, Bettie Howard, who came to this land from Desoto, Miss. in 1867. James Howard was a surveyor passing through Desoto. Bettie was a 14-year-old orphan looking for a way to survive. She told James that she couldn’t promise she would ever love him. But she said that if he would marry her and take her to Texas, she would bear and raise all his children.

James took Bettie up on her offer. After crossing the gulf from Biloxi with their wagon in pieces on a boat, they landed in Indianola, Texas and reassembled their wagon.

On the trip by wagon train to Driftwood, Bettie barbequed meat by searing it and then slow cooking it over coals – the same method the family uses today. When Bettie arrived in Central Texas, she proved to be a woman of her word. She populated her new hometown of Driftwood with nine Howard children.

Roxanna, one of Bettie’s daughters, raised Scott’s father, Thurman, in Driftwood. But Uncle Sam recruited him for service in the Navy. The Texas boy wound up stationed in Kauai. There he met his wife Hisako who was born on Kauai of Japanese descent.

In 1956, Scott’s mother and father moved with their two young sons to Driftwood. But his father had to travel constantly across the state working for a bridge construction company. Thurman dreamed of spending every day where his family had put down generations of roots.

One day he and Hisako took out a yellow legal pad and wrote down 54 things the family could do and stay in Driftwood. The idea for the Salt Lick was 14th on the list. At first, they irrigated a field and truck farmed, selling produce to local grocery stores. They also made candies, raised pecan trees and had a shelling business.

But in 1967, Thurman, who was known for his delicious barbeque at family reunions, decided he would cook meat for paying customers. Thurman and his two sons built a huge barbeque pit. Thurman would go to the pit on Thursday night and start cooking. He stayed for the weekend, sleeping on a cot, until all the meat sold. He kept coming home earlier and earlier. After a few months, the boys and Thurman built a little screen porch around the pit. The Salt Lick has grown from there. The Roberts family now serves mouthwatering barbeque to thousands of folks each week.