Sunday, September 16, 2007
Goodbye, Delsie Mae
I've been going to the Southern Kitchen all of my life. When I was a kid, and I mean a real little kid - like before kindergarten age- it was Delsie Mae Hershman who greeted us when we arrived and took or money when we left. I've eaten there hundreds of times over the years and it's always been Delsie Mae who took my money.
Delsie Mae died over the weekend. She'll be missed.
The Southern Kitchen is a Charleston institution. It isn't a great restaurant. It's always had decent food, but nothing too special. The decor hasn't changed in a lifetime. But there is something about the place that makes you feel safe. At least that's the way I felt there. Maybe it's because of all the times I ate there with my mother and father.
The memories of the place as it was in the mid 1960's to early 1970's are vivid in my mind. I remember the jukebox with those little selection consoles at each table where you could flip through all the songs without getting up from your seat. I remember the W. Va. Tourism Department paper place mats with all of the fun facts on them (to this day I believe they were why I excelled in West Virginia studies - how else could I have known that natural gas was first discovered at Burning Springs?). I remember the chicken and egg motif that is still around today. Maybe the reason the memories are so vivid is because nothing much has changed after many, many years.
My teenage daughter and her friends now love the place, but didn't really discover it until she was old enough to stay out late with her friends. The Southern Kitchen is one of the only 24 hour restaurants in Charleston and its family friendly atmosphere is even accepting of a booth or two full of boisterous teenagers after midnight. It is really neat to see this new generation embrace an old place like The Southern Kitchen.
It's a shame that Delsie Mae won't be around to see the next generation. I really hope, though, that someone keeps it going and keeps everything just the same as it was when Delsie left there on Friday. As long as that happens Delsie will still be there with us, even if someone else is collecting the money.