Fat Mammies!
Picture Was Taken About 1947.
Music Is Medley Of Sounds From The Fifties.
Photographer unknown-probably my mother.
Stat by jrd on 6/9/07.
 
 


"Fat Mammies"
Page 2.


In 1947 we moved from the Rhule place to the house across Main Street from the Old Bank Building. The move was a grand total of about five blocks. Our new neighbors were Sister Louise, above us, and Herman and Lucille King below us. Across Main Street was Kevil's General Mercantile and Hemon Johnson's Restaurant. What a nice set-up. A place to eat and a place to purchase groceries was just across the street. As a young lad of ten, this arrangement did not mean much. As long as we could roam over Rockport, play "Fox and Hound" and many other games and to fish and swim in the Green River, we were happy. Hemon and Nellie had been in the restaurant business for about two or three years when we moved. They would continue their operation for about four more years. In 1952 we moved to the big house near the high school. Our new neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Lee Curtis, Mrs. Rose Maddox and below us was Mr. and Mrs. Heltsley. In this same time frame, Adral and Irene Shaw moved into the old bank building and started their turn as restaurants operators. Mr. and Mrs. Hemon Johnson had quit the business and Adral and Irene saw their chance. The Shaw's would continue for a little more than ten years.

The above picture was taken in 1947 and the photographer was standing in our yard. The photographer was probably my mother. In that time frame Mr. and Mrs. Hemon Johnson was operating the restaurant. It would be several more years before the Shaw's replaced them as restaurant operators.

In the fifties, I don't guess that a lot of changes were made from one restaurant owner to a new owner. There just was not a lot of money to make big changes or to do much remodeling. When Adral and Irene began their quest to serve the people of Rockport with a place to hang out and a place to grab a coke and a burger, they started out with the basic set up that the Johnson's were using. It was not long before Irene (Fat Mammy) opened the restaurant up, so that the customers inside could have a better view of the outside and especially Main Street. Where the Johnson's had painted most of the picture window and the glass part of the doors, Irene removed the paint and now the customers could see the events playing outside. A part of the customers entertainment and especially those sitting in booth could be to keep track of the events on Main Street. They would know the people and the cars that were coming and going and would know who was riding with whom. Other entertainment means were "Juke Boxes" and "Pinball Machines".

I think that the song on the Juke Box would cost a nickel to play and that one could play six songs for a quarter. Most of the time, in late afternoon until nine o'clock or so, the juke box was kept busy. In the early years of the "Fat Mammy" operation, a central juke box was located next to the wall. It was moved around some, but for the most part, it was positioned on the wall nearest to the Holiness Church. Those juke boxes were almost as cool as the early fifty automobiles. Some of these Juke Boxes were called "Bubble Juke Boxes". There were clear plastic tubes on the edges of the Juke Boxes and they were filled with a bright colored liquid. Air bubbles were left inside the tubing and the liquid was heated just enough to cause the liquid to move through the tubes producing what appeared to be bubbles circling the juke box. Cool, I reckon. Like automobiles, juke boxes changed over the years and a new model would replace the old model. The records that the Juke Boxes played were 45's and there was always a nice selection to pick from. The new hit songs were not out long before they were loaded into the jute box. There just always seemed to be a variety of songs from gospel to country and from current hits to the oldies. With all of the music being played, very seldom was there any dancing. It was just not done much in restaurants.

The regular pinball machines cost a nickel to play and the player usually got 5 balls per game. The object of the game was to see how high a score that the player could make. A steel ball was "Shot" from a holding area by a spring loaded plunger. Once shot, the ball would roll back toward the collecting area of the machine. While rolling down to this area, the ball would hit knobs, bumpers, etc. and roll over wires and springs on the way to the bottom. A flipper on each side was controlled by a button that the player would operate and the longer that the ball could be contained in the upper area, the higher the score. I just loved playing those machines. For several years, "High Scores" were kept on a weekly basis and the person with the highest score would win a small prize. The list was pasted to the pinball machine so that everyone could view the scores and that would encourage those that were behind to put more nickels into the machine. A nice, early form of merchandising. The regular pinball machines produced good revenue for the company that owned the machines and for the restaurant owner. It was not long before the pinball operators learned that a pinball machine could be made and designed as a gambling machine. With this new machine, the player got one ball and he could just keep dropping nickels into the machine to better his odds. After dropping in a few dollars worth of nickels, the player would shoot the one ball and try to get the ball to roll into a certain hole. There was always some type of series to try to complete. If the score was high enough, a game would be won and listed on a counter. If the odds were high enough several games could be won on the play of the one ball. The player could also loose. Well, the process continued over and over with the player trying to win games and in the meantime, the player could have dropped ten dollars or more of nickels into the machine. When through playing, the player could "Turn In" his games that he had won. They would be listed on the counter and the restaurant owner would give the player a nickel for each game listed on the counter. It was never any "Las Vegas" type winnings, but a player could lose thirty or forty dollars in an hour or two. They could also win, but the players soon learned that the odds were stacked in favor of the owners and not the player. This fact never kept some people from playing. I just never cared for this type pinball machine, but others certainly enjoyed the gambling.

The old bank building is now gone. It stood empty for many years and the elements of nature took its' toil. The structural timbers decayed over a period of time and eventually fell in, leaving the outside brick structure. This structure soon fell and only a pile of bricks was left. A few of the bricks, free to anyone that wanted a memento of the bank and of Rockport, were saved by some of the citizens or past citizens. Most of the rubble though, was hauled off and a lot of it was used as "Fill In" material. Sad, but like people, there is a time for being and a time for no longer being.

I certainly want to give thanks to the readers that are still here and reading this part of the web page. I hope that your time was not wasted.

See you......
jrd
 




Picture below, taken in 1954. Photographer unknown.


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