"Fat Mammies"
Now Who Could These Two Ladies Be?
Clue-Picture was taken the early fifties.
Stat by jrd. Photographer Unknown!

Original Stat on 2/22/03. Update on 11/4/07.


Greetings all and hope your day has been a good one and that all is fine in your neighborhood. Have found a little "Keyboard Time" and have the old brain trying to come up with a few words that will give enough hints so that you may figure out the identity of the two people in the above photograph. The picture was probably taken in 1953 and in front of the old Rockport Bank Building. When the picture was taken, Adral and Irene Shaw were in the restaurant business at this location. I am not sure the name they used for their restaurant. We just always called it "Fat Mammies". One of the subjects is a life-long resident of Rockport and the other one had just moved into Rockport. Each would spend the next twenty years or so in Rockport. Any ideas as to the identity of the two ladies posing for the photographer? More on the identity later. Will give you time to think about the identities.

In the early months of 1953, Adral and Irene ("Fat Mammy") Shaw were in the restaurant business and they had their restaurant on the first floor of the "Old Bank Building". The dining area was "Roomy" and a long counter separated the Cook/Waitress/Server from the dining area. A wall behind the counter blocked the cooking area from the front part. A few stools were located around the counter and tables were located around the left wall with three booths positioned in the front area. The booth arrangement gave the customer a view to the street and a position to look to the outside world and to see the "Happings" of small town America. Nice setup and a convenient area to operate a restaurant. It was also a nice place for the locals to hang out. Pre-teens to retirees would spend time in the restaurant, sometimes to eat, other times just to socialize. Hamburgers, fries and a soft drink were items found on the special platter and Adral certainly made good hamburgers. Most of the customers just seemed to order "Burger and Fries" with a "Coke". A large menu was placed on the dividing wall and don't remember it being changed or updated very often. At one time or the other, a plate lunch was probably served, but I just do not remember if that was the case. Ice cream, with the sodas and the milk shakes were available. This was before Pizza and even in the later years of restaurant operation, I do not remember a pizza being served. I can hear Adral now in response to an order for a pizza: "If you want a foreign food, then go overseas". That was Adral.

Adral and Irene Shaw were kept busy with the restaurant and they stayed in business as long or longer than others that tried to make a living serving food. Sometimes, it was an eighteen hour day for both of them. They also had a private life, and lived on the second floor above the restaurant. Not long after opening the restaurant, they adopted Bob Decker's daughter. Bob had recently lost his wife and with four children, he was having a rough time making a home for the children. The youngest two were eventually adopted with the daughter going to Adral and Irene. Just a few years after the adoption, Irene became pregnant and a daughter was born to add to the family. Now, a family of four was living above the restaurant. It seemed to be a good method of raising a family with each parent taking turns with tending for the two girls and trying to tend to the wants and needs of the restaurant customers. This process would continue until the girls were grown. This operation would also serve as a place for the locals to have a place to drink a coke, eat a burger and to visit with friends. Small town America-Gone for now. May it someday return.

Please be advised that any part of this web page is another run down memory lane for me and nothing has been done, as far as research is concerned. Thus, names, dates and places may be incorrect. My purpose here is twofold. One is to give an old retiree something to do and another is to give the reader a starting point so that they may travel down that memory lane of long ago. Thus, for those that either are too young to remember or do not want to remember, thanks for looking and hope that you enjoy the music being played. The MIDI file is a tune of the fifties and in the same time frame as the picture. It is titled "You Send Me". Not sure, off hand, of any of the groups that made this tune popular. Think that possibly "Sam Cooke" may have been the primary artist. If you are still reading, thanks.

It has been suggested that I come up with a picture or two of the restaurants in Rockport of years past and include a short write-up of the businesses. There have been many places and people that could be included in this accord. A short list of the ones that I am most familiar with would be of "Fat Mammies", Hemon Johnson's, Thomas and Dorothy Harris and "Tooley's Place". The "Long List" would probably fill up a page or more, but these were either not in my time frame or were short lived. Today, I am not aware of any restaurants operating in Rockport and most of the old buildings that have housed restaurants are no longer in existence. Thus, stay tuned and I will see what I can come up with. In the meantime, thanks for looking.

Oh, yeah. About to forget about the two females in the above picture. The one on the left is Doris (Dotty) Durbin and the one on the right is none other than "Fat Mammy" herself, Mrs. Irene Decker Shaw.

See you......
jrd



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