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Starkville Cafe

March 4, 2011

Starkville Cafe is the epitome of a local, down home spot of the number one eatery in all of Starkville, Mississippi. Address is 211 University Drive...Main Street right in the heart of our down town which is now known as a small city!
We take into our mouths with great enjoyment our food each day which has a certain consistency of flavors when each bite is eaten.
More than just the food the wonderful breakfast and lunch is served daily by very, sweet, and loving waitresses with a million dollar smiles on their faces.
The atmosphere as well as all the other customers are the two most important things which truly epitomize the whole cafe of the perfect example of this typical cafe as well as other Main Street Cafes found in every little town in our great state of Mississippi which offers above all Southern hospitality at its finest!
Several years ago we had as our special house guests for along weekend which began on Thursday through Monday a native Long Island, New York city lady, Gail Rerisi.
She was a very pretty blond lawyer who practiced law in the Bayville, New York as well as in the big New York City too. We decided to really show Starkville, Oktibbeha County, and Mississippi State University life to her.
We wanted Gail to experience our easy laid back living each day, to watch the catfish jumping, to enjoy listening to our stories with extra-special Mississippi accents, and our slow moving way of life! I picked up Gail from our Golden Triangle Airport when her big plane landed in sort of a typical cow pasture, and our first stop was to take a walk on the MSU campus, from the Colvard Student Center to head towards Mitchell Memorial Library.
She suddenly looked up into the blue sky, and she noticed both our American and Mississippi flag gently blowing in the wind as we crossed the MSU Drill Field.
I turned to her saying, “Hey Gail we have some great plans scheduled for you starting Friday morning at daylight when Mr. Wendall Gibson is coming by our home to pick us up in his fabulous antique car. Our first destination will be down town, Main Street to venture into the famous Starkville Cafe. He’ll be honking his horn located on the outside of his convertible car, and off we shall go to eat and enjoy the very best grits floating in butter in the whole USA!”
“What are grits?” she said.
“Wait and taste them...you’ll LOVE them!” I said. “We have been invited to sit at the Liar’s Table which was hand-made by now 94-year-old Mr. Buck Swain, who is one of my very favorite gentlemen in town!”
She looked slightly apprehensive, but I then told her, “Gail I got permission for you to sit at the ‘Head Of The Table’ and maybe this time, ‘Queen Of The Table!’ This seat is usually occupied by one special gentleman, but these ‘regulars’ have made an exception for you to have this seat tomorrow, and they are excited to meet an attractive blond lawyer from the ‘Big Apple!’ After we eat, we’ll climb back into the antique car, and roll slowly along touring all of Starkville, Oktibbeha County and MSU just slowly tooling along without a care in this world! We’ll be free spirits. We’ll wave and say, ‘Hi Yall!’ This is what we do every day here in Mississippi.”
“On Sunday Frank, my family, and I are hosting a big party at our home with beloved, talented, and wonderful Mrs. Etta Few playing our piano with sounds of classical and ‘boogy woogy’ music filling our home like an angel in heaven! I have already sent out invitations that the dress will be antebellum with frills and ruffles much like ‘Gone With The Wind!’ I have decided that when our long weekend is over, you and I shall drop by Mr. Frank Jackson’s antebellum home and pluck a lovely Magnolia flower off his antebellum tree dating back before our Civil War. You will be flying back up north with this white velvet Magnolia in your lap. Frank said we could pick several if we wanted to do so. Our Mississippi state flower will be your keepsake of your... ‘way down South in good ‘ole Dixie Land!’ Are you ready?”
It was Gail who became my inspiration to paint The Starkville Cafe. She finished her last bite that morning, and turned to me and said, “Carole, you must paint the Starkville Cafe!” It was another very early morning on May 10, 1995, when I pulled into the front parking space and spotted a Starkville policeman and ask, “May I take up this space for several hours to set up my outside art studio for this day to paint this local scene? He agreed, and I suddenly was in “Heaven On Earth” for the rest of this early morning which went into the middle of the afternoon. I blocked out everyone and everything and slipped into my own “bubble world!”
In front of me was the nostalgic cafe that I well remembered as Britt’s Cafe growing up at 501 Louisville Street where we use to actually walk from this home along with other neighborhood growing up buddies way down town to get a coke float on these hot sweltering summer time afternoons.
This walking trip was quite an adventure and long journey which seemed like miles and miles before we stopped. It was merely a short distance from our back screen doors as they slammed behind us. We felt so independent, and could hardly wait until we could get to that last cold slurp and hear that certain sound at the bottom of our coke floats (you know just how that sound sounds!) We said, ‘good bye,’ and headed back back to Louisville Street to “sweet, sweet home!”
This very spot down town has been “the hub” which holds so many memories filled with smiles, laughter, and lots of fun!
We have all spent hours and really entire parts of our lives down at The Starkville Cafe. What is the food like? It is wonderful, and it is just like Moma’s home cooking.
Let’s look at the painting itself. Look inside the windows at the old catsup bottle on the table...slightly dripping on one side. The curtains are not quite straight, the local color paintings of scenes and people on the wall. A few of them need to be made straightened up again.
Red doors, green awning with one piece of the canvas awning torn and a little tattered and you can see the two letter, “CA” and “HOME COO” to the right side of the front window, but you know the rest of the wording is “HOME COOKING!”
Let your eyes go to the left hand side of this painting.
See the newspaper boxes and stands, the Starkville Daily News headline was “School Bond Passes!” We live in our small southern city, but we are a part of our bigger state of Mississippi and “The Clarion Ledger” as well as the whole big ‘ole world, USA Today!
I had everything in this painting except a human being on that sunshiny perfect 70 degree temperature May day. I needed a real live person to pose for his portrait to give this particular painting life!
Suddenly I saw Mr. B. B. Thompson who was at the present time, President of The Liar’s Table coming up the walk towards the cafe.
“B.B. would you be in my painting?”
He agreed, and stood there long enough for me to capture him right beside the three newspaper stands. He was the perfect model. We all LOVED...B.B.
He has gone to The Church Triumphant, but I can almost bet that his spirit is in heaven sitting at another “Liar’s Table” in “Heaven’s Cafe” in the big blue sky above!
It is now 2011, and Mr. John Lee Peeples is now the very proud owner of The Starkville Cafe. He is also know as “Baby Duck.” Two precious little ducks sit quietly as if they are ready to “quack,” “quack,” “quack” on top of his register.
The cafe is filled with antique items, a jute box, old signs, and my own paintings line one of the walls in the front of the cafe. I am most honored to share these with others of my faces, places, and everything else. They have remained here for several years.
John Lee Peeples puts his whole heart and soul into his Starkville Cafe.
He loves his career, and as a little boy use to ride his bike up town to just visit this spot that he now owns! It is a dream come true for John Lee!
A few days ago, John Lee received an ‘A’ for his cafe by a restaurant inspector. It has just found a great new place right up front by the bulletin board.”
CONGRATULATIONS,” John Lee!
When one enters the door, you hear, Shirley, Rena, and “Number One,” “Miss Joyce” all saying over and over again, “How are y’all today?” “Do you need any more re-fills of coffee in that cup today?”
Old regulars like Jerry and Jerelyn Scriver, Larry Bell, Al White, Shirley Barall, John Crawford, Tom Dawkins, and “Angel,” Paula, and MSU students, Alex, Tiffany, and Conner, make their way almost every day inside those friendly red front doors each morning early for breakfast and lunch at high noon for hot vegetable soup, corn bread and ice tea!
The Starkville Cafe is like family, and as an artist I was challenged, inspired, and painted this local scene by one pretty, blond, lawyer from Yankee Land in Long Island, New York to take time to capture on my canvas this favorite Number One Hub... THE STARKVILLE CAFE!

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