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Liz Johnson The Lady with the Million Dollar Smile

August 20, 2010

Have you ever met... “A Lady With A Million Dollar Smile!?” Well, I have, and she is down at the Starkville Cafe, 211 University Drive/Main Street right in the middle of our downtown small city of Starkville.
Liz is a great cook down there as well as a great, great lady! Have you ever been in The Starkville Cafe? You certainly need to “pop” in the popular “spot”... “the main hub” on Main Street for a delicious home cooked breakfast or a blue plate special for lunch.
There is absolutely no place quite like The Starkville Cafe. In the back of the front room sits the very famous... “Liar’s Table!” This big old long beautifully hand-made wooden table...crafted by, now 92 year old, Mr. Buck Swain especially for the cafe! It sits there waiting each early morning around 5 a.m. for “her” first customers of the early morning crowd to suddenly... open the front door of the cafe...and head right towards this long wooden shiny table... pull out a cafe chair, plop down...open up today’s menu (even though this customer knows exactly what is on the menu)...look up at Shirley, the waitress, as she is headed towards that one lonely customer with a hot steaming pot of black, black coffee...and you hear the words, “Well, Good Morning...How is it going this fine early morning, would you like a cup of hot black coffee? Do you take cream or sugar? Oh, I know...you like yours just plain black without cream or sugar...sure ‘the others’ (all the Liar’s Table crew who are ‘regulars’ as they are called) will soon join you here at the Liar’s Table...what else do you want for breakfast?”
Shirley takes this one lonely customer’s order, and glances out the big front windows of the cafe, and says, “still dark outside, and you are up mighty early this fine morning?”
The Lair’s table is in the very back of the cafe, and located right by the cafe kitchen. From the back window you hear a rattle or two as Liz Johnson gets out her famous pan to “fix” her very famous grits. Shirley looks back at her pad and sees that she wrote down, two fried eggs (“over light”) sausage, home-made biscuits, and a huge bowl of grits that this first lonely customer is going to add lots of real butter on the top of the grits.
Now, way down south in Starkville, the very best grits in the United States of America can be found right here in the very hub of Main Street/University Drive (leading on to University Drive and heading towards Mississippi State University, the largest university in Mississippi). The number one place to eat called, The Starkville Cafe!
If you come to visit here or just passing through our great little city, then it is a MUST that you stop by for breakfast or lunch and just try and get into the “groove” of life down at The Starkville Cafe!
There is just no place quite like this establishment which has been in operation all of my life time here as a native Starkvillian.
I knew it when it was called, Britt’s Cafe, and as a little girl, moma would let me along with several of my neighborhood friends, Charlotte Ann Edwards, Dean and Jean Norris, walk from Louisville Street all the way to town and to the Britt’s Cafe for a coke float on a hot summer’s day.

A few years ago, Liz stopped by our table and said, “y’all know that I am back in school trying to get my GED, my high school degree and diploma finally after all of these years!” “I’m have a little trouble with the math part of the course, but I think that I am going to graduate in 2008. If I do graduate, will y’all attend my graduation at the Greensboro Center?”
We looked up at Liz, Frank, my sweet husband, and I almost together said, “We’ll be right there in the audience watching and listening to hear your name called!”
Weeks passed by in the spring time of 2008, and one morning early while we were having our home-cooked breakfast down at the cafe, suddenly behind my back and placed quickly and quietly on our table was a white envelope with a Starkville High School invitation tucked inside announcing the date and the time of the GED graduation of Liz Johnson. Then she said, “I have been chosen to be the class speaker, are y’all still coming?” “We’ll be right there for you, Liz.”
Then she her small smile became her famous “Million Dollar Smile” and you could hear her unique “Giggle” that only comes from deep within her heart.

She put on her cap with the tassel swinging on the side, and lead her class of GED (soon to be) graduates in the processional down the long isle from the back of the auditorium of the old Greensboro Center, where I too had graduated in the class of 1960 so many years ago.

To you, “Miss Liz” Johnson, I surely do love you, the “bestest” cook...down at The Starkville Cafe and also Starkville High School cook, a lead actress in a play titled, “Curtis Quarters,” a graduate with a GED diploma from Starkville High School...come on now...we are so proud of you, ” Liz Johnson, “A LADY WITH A MILLION DOLLAR SMILE!”

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