Finally, our first scheduled “Maids on the Trace” meet up was for lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard. We were to look for a 28-foot high structure on Highway 61, south of Natchez, Mississippi, that was of a smiling mammy wearing a red kerchief, white blouse, horseshoe earrings, and red skirt, holding a tray.
Mammy’s Cupboard dates from 1940 when it was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gaude. A mammy character had been portrayed in the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind”, about the same time plans for the restaurant were being made. Along with now being the embodiment of political incorrectness, the building is also unusual in that its architect was a female, which was not the norm in 1940. Mrs. Gaude operated the restaurant, which was built as a compliment to an existing service station. Many tourists were drawn to the bright red skirt, as they came through the Natchez area for the antebellum mansion tours.
This roadside structure has been many things over time – a gas station, restaurant, gift shop, and craft center. It had gone through quite a bit of decay over the years, but it has had its periods of renovation and restoration. The exterior bricks, which form the skirt, have been repaired many times and the red skirt is given a fresh coat of paint periodically. During the Civil Rights period of the 1960’s, Mammy’s “skin” was repainted a lighter shade.
Currently the restaurant operates Tuesday through Saturdays, offering a lunch menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and made-from-scratch desserts. As you enter the restaurant through a door in her skirt, you will step into a gift shop and dining room.
~ Good friends. Good food. Good times. ~
There was a feeling of nostalgia, as we were seated at one of the old fashion tables of varying sizes throughout the room. Then we watched arrivals to see who was going to be doing this ride with us. It was fun to see faces we knew and also to introduce ourselves to new friends.
As more would come in, we’d finish eating so we could give up our tables and then congregate outside around our parked motorcycles and a picnic table.
(That’s me to the right, and Clara to the left, of Schelley from MS who put this all together.)