Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK The world is lucky that folks will work to keep bizarre buildings in shape. Near Natchez, Mississippi, there’s a structure in the shape of a mammy, an outdated African-American caricature. Doris Kemp and her family run an restaurant here.
DORIS The building’s been here since 1940, designed for just what it does: to attract the traveler to stop. Look. And buy. And leave their money.
MARTIN It was built by Henry Gaude in 1940 or 1941 for his wife.
LINDA When my mother originally opened in the building, she was just gonna be a gift shop and dessert, you know, sort of like a little tea house, and everyone come in and say, Well, why don’t you serve something for lunch and…
MARTIN People came in and said, Can you make me a sandwich?
DORIS So I realized that if I wanted to stay here, we had to have food. And that’s how it became a restaurant.
LAURIE It’s what you’d expect at your grandmother’s kitchen actually, you know, if you went to Mamaw’s house, there’s you know the good delicious desserts and the homemade food.
SHIRLEY We eat here all the time. We love Doris to death. We think she’s the sweetest person.
JERRY It’s been one of the most successful restaurants in this part of the country.
MARTIN It started off as a Shell filling station.
LINDA And they built it to coincide with the Pilgrimage that’s here in Natchez.
RICK The Pilgrimage is a popular Springtime tour of old homes and plantations near here.
LISA We come here every time we come to the Pilgrimage. And we’ve been here three days, and this is our third day to eat here.
JERRY And she has fantastic desserts that you’d drive a hundred miles for.
JOHNNIE With Mammy sitting on top, it’s different.
JERRY It’s so incorrect politically but I guess back in the 30s and 40s, you could do that. But it seems to be accepted now.
DORIS There could still be some resentment, but we have not seen any.
JERRY Because it’s historic.
DORIS Part of our history, and we’re friends with everyone, so…
JERRY If she had the sane restaurant in a little, little flat building, she wouldn’t get the business.
DORIS It’s part of Natchez. Part of Mississippi. And part of the world now, so…