Monday, May 1, 2006

Why the name?

Many of you already know, I grew up in the small town of Knippa, Texas. It was there that my Great Grandmother - Emma McBee - known to me and everyone else as "Mama Mac" - that the Sunshine Cafe existed. I have many fond memories of my hometown and of this busy little country cafe. I hope to share many of those stories along the way. If you can imagine - just like in the movies.......
The building was yellow and small, much like the shape of a house. Big picture windows line the front looking onto a busy Highway 90 and the railroad track. There is a small alcove with entry doors on both sides. Once in the covered area, a swinging door with a window to view the in's and outs lets you enter the dining room. The tables are square, all covered in red and white checked vinyl table cloths. Four chairs invite one to sit. (For families needing more than four, a quick pushing of the tables together made a quick, long table for more!)
The center of the table displays the napkin holder. There was an art to filling these things. The napkins had to fit just right - all placed the same direction with the open end facing down. If the open end was up, customers had to work too hard to get just one. And Don't overstuff them! That makes it too difficult for customers to pull them out. A shiny surface on the sides of these was essential. Nobody likes a grudgy, fingerprinted, dull napkin holder!
Also on the tables were the regular salt and pepper shakers. The salt had rice in it since the humidity could cause problems. There was also a sugar shaker. Each had one saltine cracker - again to absorb the moisture. (The water cooler in the corner was a huge source of relief on those hot Texas summer days.) As the napkin holder stood as the centerpiece of the square - the salt and pepper shakers on one side, the sugar shaker on the other. Before the lunch or dinner rush, a red plastic squeeze bottle of ketchup was placed with them. (These couldn't be put out too early or left too long after the rush. The taste of spoiled ketchup is quite gross.)
AS a young child, setting up the tables for the lunch and dinner was my job. Once the essentials were nestled carefully in place, out came the silverware. A square napkin with a butter knife placed strategicallly in the corner diagonally, then the fork placed on top of it, the corner of the napkin raised to cover them, tucked nicely with the bottom end folded up and then the roll! The knife and fork being viewed from the opening in the wrap was a true art! These were pre-rolled to the number of how ever many fork and knifes we had, then placed at each space on the table - inviting the local farmers to eat a great lunch or dinner!

**Things to come:
The farmers, the food, the cooks, the competition next door, the town, the school - welcome to my childhood!

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