Restaurants (Colored)

I’ve spent most of this trip interviewing folks who lived in what we called South Cape. I’ve learned some things about that area that most of us “north of the hill” – Tollgate Hill – never knew.I'[ve heard tales of prejudice and discrimination in Cape – and the amazing lack of it in some other cases.

It’s going to take some time for me to boil it down and digest it. I need to talk with more folks, but it’s time for me to saddle up and head back to Florida.

Today was a wrapping-up day. The car had to go in for a minor repair; I was supposed to pick up some rubber stamps (not in); I roamed around shooting some quick topics to give me stuff to post while I’m on the road. One of my stops was to say goodbye to Friend Shari’s mother, LaFern.

(She thinks I’m a witch or a genius  – she said it was the latter, but the look in her eye let me know it was the former – because I brought her dead computer back to life just by pressing the ON button.) As a reward, she gave me a 1944 Cape County telephone directory. (You can click on the images to make them larger.)

Cape County Restaurants

Like most people, the first thing I did was check for family connections – I recognized some. Then I leafed through the classifieds to do a light-weight piece on businesses that had come and gone. When I got to Page 32, which covered Rental Agencies (see Real Estate) to Service Stations (see Filling Stations), I thought I had found an easy and popular topic: Restaurants.

“Restaurants (Colored)”

Then, I saw the heading that appeared BELOW Restaurants.

When did this become unacceptable?

I wrote about Brother Mark and me hitting a bunch of antique shops in 2008. I ran across this set of postcards for sale and said, in part, “I saw a reminder of just how far we’ve come in this country. One night this week we’re watching Barack Obama stumping to be President of the United States and a day later, we’re looking at a collection of black memorabilia of the most racially offensive nature I ever recall seeing.

There wasn’t a stereotype left untouched. Lil Black Sambo and Aunt Jemima were tame compared to this stuff.

I’m not knocking the antique shop for carrying it. It’s probably valuable to see how crap like this was acceptable at one time.”

“I’m not going to point any moral”

With apologies to The Beatles, “I read the news today, oh, boy.”

We’re going through a period of anger and angst about another group looking for its civil rights.

Pete Seeger said it better than I ever could in his song, “Waist Deep in The Big Muddy:”

Well, I’m not going to point any moral,
I’ll leave that for yourself

35 Replies to “Restaurants (Colored)”

  1. Do you have any knowledge of a restaurant in downtown Cape called the Downtowner?

    When my Grandmother Maud Turner Thomas passed away Grandpa listed that she owned and operated it.

    Any help would be great!

    1. Mr. Thomas,

      I am researching 108 Main Street for my Historic Preservation class and I was wondering if you had found any information about the Downtowner. Please e-mail me at please, I would love to know anything you can tell me about it.

      Thank you,
      Brandon Daake

    1. “Toll Gate” hill was the hill on S Sprigg St ( 1200 or 1300 block, just north of “Smelterville”. Larry Yarbro’s gas station was near the bottom across from the start of Hwy 74. At the beginning of the paving project I understand there was a “Toll Booth” there to charge to travel up Sprigg Street.

  2. I couldn’t help but think of the Chick Fil A controversy. Decades from not people will think back and wonder how we could have discriminated against marriage for people who were born gay. Progress is uneven, we we tend to eventually do the right thing.

  3. So glad you’re a genius. This book is a treasure.
    I thought there was a Coney Island stand–ahah, but no one seemed to remember it. Like Matlock, we liked hotdogs.

    Cape was home sweet home, but as was so much of the country, discrimination and predjudice was the norm.

  4. the first house i remember living in was on south frederick..507.there was a little black church on the opposite corner. the street was very mixed.but as you went further down frederick it became more black families. the thing that i remember as far as race involved was i was playing with some black friends..can’t think of their family name. when the father came home he threw a fit that this white kid was in his house…and i had to leave..wasn’t in school i must have been 5?
    as far as the black memorabilia. i had black nurses i worked with at the veterans hospital here that would ask me if i ran across any of it and wasn’t too expendsive to buy it for them. they collected it.there is a phrase in AA..that says we shut the door on the past or wish to forget it. we are to learn from it.

  5. im not a hundred percent sure.but i think the downtowner was on goodhope st.back then downtown was in that area.if it is the same place.they had very good style,did have a bar in it.i think it closed some time in the late 60’s…? when that part of town started to get rough.please correct me if i have it mixed up with another restaurant.

  6. Hi Jane Neumeyer,

    Just remember that serial killers may be born that way. Rapists may be born that way. Pedophiles MAY be born that way too. The Aurora theater shooter may have been born that way.

    Tim McVey who blew up the Oklahoma federal building killing over 100 children and adults may have been born that way. That doesn’t mean that we should legalize them just because they were born that way.

    Homosexuality has been punishable by death worldwide for thousands of years! What happened in the last thirty to suddenly make it acceptable and just as proper as heterosexual relationships? It’s still the same stinky deal.

    1. Not sure how you’re comparing a lunatic shooting children to people of the same sex wanting attracted to each other? And I can’t believe this is allowed on this Web site?

  7. Not only is it strongly condemned in several places in the King James Original Bible. It is also about the same percentage, 2%, in the lower animal species, and in most nonwhite societies around the world today it is still tolerated at best, and some countries, such as Nigeria, and Iran, still help them to assume room temperature if they are caught.

    Once that Pandora’s box of perversion is opened, it is difficult to shut it again. Homosexuality today, pedophilia legalized in 20 years or less, then bestiality. People are pushing right now to legalize those.

    Read this article from scientists, psychologists, and others. Then you will know how they managed to turn our society upside down so quickly.

    Homosexuality facts and fiction:

  8. As far as African American restaurants go, my Great Great Aunt Eva Benson, and her Husband George Bollinger owned a cafe on Good Hope. I haven’t been able to find the name of it yet though.

  9. CL..when i clicked on your name i got a regional outreach program site?..the only african american restraurant i remembered on good hope was peoples? it was closer to the river. i remember al’s midtown lounge..great fried catfish.then on morgan oak was the southern?

  10. Hi Stephen,

    I only found out about this restaurant when someone sent me the name of Eva Benson. She went to St James AME church back in the 1920’s and thirties. So it was probably before our time. I have run into a few people who knew my folks personally, but they joined their ancestors a few years back. They say they sold a lot of fried fish. Do you remember the American Legion across the street from Peoples? Then down on Water street near the train tracks, there were several Black taverns, Johnny Young owned one, Miss Mary and Ben Edwards owned another one. I think they were related to me as well. Then in Smelterville there was a juke joint. 🙂 That was way back when Cape had three bus lines, three or four cab companies, a bustling airport, city bus servive, and a street car running down Broadway.

  11. CL, i grew up on south frederick. my older brothers and sisters attended maye greene school.that was mid to late 50’s. there was and still is a small black i think baptist church on the corner of frederick..i can’t think of the cross streeet. when someone mention watermelon stealing i think those melons were stolen from cauble and field produce.they would have trucks full of them. i do remember a black bar named the “black and tan”? that was in between good hope and morgan was next to the old school bus parking terminal. there several cab companies one was small rate..the other was yellow cab. i rode a city bus from downtown cape home. i think i was in the 3rd grade.story was the cab companies combined..then bought out the bus line

  12. Heck Stephen you know more about that part of town than I do. 🙂 Are you related to my old buddy David Cotner?

    The cross street was Jefferson. I went to Jefferson school for a few months before they integrated the schools in nineteen fifty four. I saw Mrs Martin, my teacher fall down the steps from an upper floor chasing Sammy Gilbert. I remember we all went home crying right after that.

    I stayed out in Marble city heights where I knew who I could whoop and who would make me the whoopee! The two people there I stayed away from was Frankie Baker and Rocky Bierschwal. Forrest Bierschwal was a good kid. Rocky would just as soon knock your peeder string loose as look as you. So I accepted my place in the pecking order and learned to get along with them.

    I enjoyed being friends with Cecil Nunley, John Etti Williams, Curtis, but I found out quickly I couldn’t whip them. I enjoyed boxing around and wrestling around with Cecil.

    However when he got tired, he would put something on me fast, and I knew it was time to go back to class before he put a hurtin on me.

    John and Curtis were real mellow, but I found out I couldn’t handle them either. So I quickly deduced the fact that if I wanted to keep all those pretty teeth that Dr V.Paul Grisham taught me how to have, I had had better learn to negotiate instead of fight. And they weren’t the roughest boys on Good Hope. 🙂 They were all good kids though. I still think about them a lot. The church you are referring to was the old Second Baptist church. Estelena, Paul, Joyce, and others whom I don’t remember went to that church. The Wilson Family, my family,The MiddleBrooks, The Mitchells, The Daniels, the Slaughters, all went to St James Methodist which is on North street.

  13. I don’t know what to say about those postcards except that it show there is still a majority of people in Cape who subscribe to these critically mentally ill ideas about the different ethnic groups in America.

    I’ll say this scientists have said for decades that ALL Human, originated in Ethiopia from a Black Adam and Black Eve.

    The Holy Bible is the true history of the Black man and woman on planet Earth. No where in the Bible is the word Blond, Blue, or White mentioned except in Numbers and “The Song of Songs. The bible took place in Africa; not Europe. All the famous people from Moses to Jesus are described as being Brown, or Black people.

    White skin is a genetic mutation. Similar to Albinism. Those people do not have melanin in their skins. Melanin protects us from Sunburn and Skin cancer. Caucasians do not have that protection. They ignore their doctors warnings and spend billions of dollars a year roasting themselves in the Sun, and catching skin cancer. 🙂 We have the one thing they want desperately, but not even Bill Gates can have and that is beautiful, natural, Brown, and Black skin and woolly hair like Jesus had. Maybe that is why they are still so angry at us?

  14. CL,david is my oldest brother.when we lived on south frederick,there was pauline .virginia,charlotte,judy,david,debbie,me.vicki and john.pauline,virginia,charlotte,and john have passed.our father moved us from south ferderick to north ellis was a cape version on “the jeffersons” cuz we was movin on up..LOL that didn’t last long..LOL
    i moved to st.louis to attend nursing school.went to work for the veterans and stayed there 30 of my closest friends was from cape sandra side. sandy graduated in 1965 from central. moved here to attend nursing school at city hospital. st.louis had city hospital number one it was was the “white” number two was homer g phillips in orth city for blacks. after intergration homer g stayed mostly black.the city swore up and down they would not close it..well it closed in early 80’s city number one closed mid 80’s.

  15. Wow! Stephen you have had an interesting and diverse life. Sandy joined her ancestors last year. She worked as an RN at John Cochrane VA in St Louis for many decades. That is where I go to get all of my medical treatment. I went to Poplar bluff VA for about ten years and then I just grew bored going there. I thought just drive 30 miles more each way, and when you finish with the doctors appointment I could drive around the big city and see my friends and family. I could also stop at my favorite restaurants and get Pig Ear sandwiches, Chitlins, Pig Feets, and all the other Haute cuisine I grew up on. 🙂 St Louis is not far away, but it is like living on another planet from Cape. Every time I come back when I get around Ste Genevieve and the St Louis R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop stations fade out, I get teary eyed. I know I’m going back to the boonies. 🙂 Cape is a good place to retire, but there is still no social life here for me. After eight years in Northern Italy, I’m used to night clubs like Whiskey a Go-go, Champagne A G0-Go, Moulin Rouge, in Paris, Studio 51 in New York, 64 West in St. Louis, or Docs Disco in Scott City. Juke joints have never been my thing. 🙂 I still get the desire to party like that, but I usually just stay home, drink some fine wine and listen to YouTube. Safer that way.

  16. Harold, the church you are referring to is the church where I was baptized. It is on North Street near Middle. That chuch is named St. James A.M.E. That stands for African Methodist Episcopal.

    OK Stephen I have your information. Wilco

  17. I remember the Orpheum movie theater on Goodhope. Blacks on one side , whites on the other. Southern Cafe on Morgan Oak had a sign in front that said, “Blacks in rear” and an arrow pointed to the back door so they could order food “to go”. I was a soda jerk at Womacks Drug Store on South Sprigg. I made .35 per hour and use to deliver a product to homes that was called, Grand Ma’s Cocktail. It was Terpin Hydrate of Codeine”. Mr. Womack uos to fill small bottles out of a brown gallon jug. Lastly, I remember the Choo Chew Grill on Good Hope. Yo ordered food and it was delivered to you by a little train on tracks which lined the counter.

  18. I lived on the same block of Frederick as the church. We’d sit outside after a walk to the Dairy Bell and listening to some of the best gospel singing ever! Our block was a mix of black & white and everyone got along fine. I have always had friends of all races. It just seems natural to me. It wasn’t until Jr High I started to experience racial tension and I had a hard time understanding why. I still do.
    On another note I have lived away from Cape for 30 yrs and this FB page and the information that we are so blessed to have on it is wonderful. Thanks to everyone for all they add to it!

  19. I have so enjoyed reading all of the comments. I was actually looking for info on St. James African Methodist Church. I was told it was our family church. My Katherine Perkins and her sister Marcella Perkins Grant lived there with their father Louis Perkins’s mother Abbie Perkins from 1931 to 1938 when their grandmother passed. They had cousins named Virginia, Lucille, and Albert Daniels Jr. I have found history of my family in cape since the 1830’s.

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