Eateries bring back memories of hurricanes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Over the years as I worked hurricanes and flood losses across the country, I was amazed at the names of some of restaurants, cafes and fast food locations I encountered.

One of those eating-places was Buffalo Wings. For the life of me, I cannot grasp the meaning of this name. We all called them chicken wings, but a certain section of the country identifies these delicate wings with a buffalo. I see no connection between a chicken and a buffalo.

Another restaurant I often frequented was “The Nude Oyster.” Now I have no problem identifying with this food as it was simply another name for oyster on the half shell. I discovered this quaint eatery in the early 1990s while working Hurricane Andrew. But working Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I learned this eating place had gone out of business.

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Also in the 1990s, I stayed at my favorite motel in Baton Rouge and next door, there was a fast food hamburger restaurant called Fuddruckers. Now this funny sounding named eating place dished out some of the best tasting hamburgers I have ever eaten. They stacked it a “mile high” with everything on it, pickles, lettuce tomatoes, onions and hot peppers.

In the bayous and communities in west Louisiana Cajun Country, I found a small but very popular restaurant called “I’ll Never Tell.” Now this establishment offered a menu that was easy to read. Menu items were simply hamburgers, hot dogs, po boys, grilled cheese, etc. But they did not elaborate. You ask the waitress what came on each of these sandwiches and she would answer, “I’ll Never Tell.” But when they brought them out, you discovered they were filled with every dressing you could desire.

And to top it off, they brought out a tiny bottle of Louisiana hot pepper sauce to sprinkle on top if you so desired. There was a catch to the sauce. Because it was so immensely hot, the manager would give you your sandwich free of charge if you could eat it. No way could I eat it with the hot sauce. It was simply too hot. But I did see a very healthy looking Cajun woman down her sandwich without recourse. Everyone in the restaurant gave her applause for her feat.

There are so many foods and drinks on the market with odd names. I am sure you have come across some of them, too. For instance, how many of you have heard of or eaten Hog Head Cheese? This is a delicacy up on the eastern coast but many of us were brought up on it down south.

Other food or drinks are Pine Apple Willy Smashes, Fish ‘n Chips and Margaritaville Cooler.

While putting together my column, I sometimes think back to my early days at The Advance. I remember so many who worked here back then. I go far back to the days when Eloise Bradford and Mr. Vickery headed up the paper, and those years when Martin Richie was the publisher. Bob Morrisette and Phil Sokol came along later. Some of the writers were Morgan Little and Phillip Rawls. The Associated Press grabbed up Rawls, where he later retired as one of the most talented writers for this firm.

Others who stand out in my mind are Harvey Cook, Molly Norris and Frances Blackburn.

In the mid 1950s, I remember several of the teachers from Mississippi coming to live here and taking teaching jobs in Florida. They came by the newspaper office to search our want ads for homes to buy or sell. I remember going along with Bob on one occasion to point out a home for sale. That teacher was Mr. Shoemaker.

Two of Bob’s college classmates from the University were frequent visitors to the paper. Sen. Howell Heflin was one of them and Haden Riley was the other one. Riley was an assistant coach for the Bear and also coached basketball and baseball there.

While they would not admit Bob, Phil and Martin were prejudiced in hiring writers. Because of its reputation as a leading journalistic University, they gave Alabama grads first considerations.

Now let’s take a look at some more news from days gone by.

A popular eating place here in the early to mid 50s was The Torch. This small café turned out some of the best breakfasts in town. It was located on Highway 31 east, not too far from the Atmore Saddle Club.

Dr. Cecil Thornbloom opened a new chiropractic office back then and Theodore Clayton extended his “dime store” business with a new one in Bay Minette.

Former Escambia County High School gridiron standout Charles Madison was one of two University of Georgia football players selected to participate in Montgomery’s Blue-Grey Game. Red Vickery, another outstanding Blue Devil and Georgia player was influential in Madison signing with Georgia.

Finally, I want to apologize for not including Galen Walker in my list of Atmore Charter Boat Captains in my column last week. Walker, of course, is the husband of Penny Walker. And Penny is the daughter of Red Vickery. Walker, a fine man, has been involved in this excellent operation for many years.

More news next week.

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