The Just Holler Lady… and other stories

Luby's Cafeteria
October07/ 2023

Blame today’s BL Golden Oldie on a dear dear lady named “MaryLynn” who just celebrated the Big 9-0.  She celebrated by upping her daily output of crazy right-winger e-mails by a dozen.  Bringing her daily output up to give/take 30 to every address in her Contact List… regardless of persuasion.  … 🙂

MaryLynn has been a faithful BobLee Babe since Day One, over 2,000 columns ago.  She’s missed a few because, like Albert, she uses Wite-Out on her monitor to correct misspellings.   She complains if she goes a week without getting a new column.  The first question I ask is “are you using that Wite-Out again?”  She sandblasts her screen and there are the missing columns.  Everything is OK for a few weeks.

How tough is “MaryLynn”?  For over 80+ years her family had four seats on Row R on the 45 in Kenan on the Hotter Than Hell (North) Side and she missed very very few games over that half century plus.  When the Rams Club ticket nazis tried to move her a few years ago, she told’em to “stick it where the sun don’t shine”.   She took her “Sweet Jim” Lalanne autographed pennant and ain’t been back.

When she asked me to repost her “personal favorite column” I wasn’t about to argue.  Would you?


A BobLee Classic originally posted about ten years ago….

The “Just Holler Lady” and Other Stories….

I don’t know why I have ignored this warm and comfortable hideaway from the rampant silliness and damn foolishness that seems to be engulfing society.  Like so many of the “why Gods?” that lead us to open certain doors …..  this time  The Angel of Providence led me passed a WAFFLE HOU*E to Piccadilly Cafeteria.  I am a better man for the experience.

The BobLee Traveling Road Show is in Stockbridge Georgia for a few days.  On an I-75 exit festooned with every possible national and regional dining option, the sea of neon and asphalt parted and a star shone bright above Piccadilly Cafeteria.

If you have never dined at “a cafeteria” you really have no business whatsoever being on this website.  I am not talking about a “school cafeteria”.  I mean a public cafeteria.  I forgive the handful of you who have yet to visit a WAFFLE HOUSE, but if you truly have never had “supper” at “a cafeteria” … please just go away now.  You don’t belong here.Cafeterias

OK, you could have “dinner” at a cafeteria but it would be the mid-day meal.  If you ate an “evening meal” at a cafeteria … it was “supper”.

Growing up, when  our family “went out for supper” it was most likely to Creech’s Cafeteria “downtown” next to The Court House.  The entire Creech Family worked there in some capacity.  The menu choices were always the same … many to be sure, but the variety of choices were always the same.   There is some Universal Law of Cafeterias … ALL Cafeterias, even in 2006, still offer the same variety of choices ….. and in that sameness I take incredible comfort.

Piccadilly Cafeteria had computerized cash registers and I noticed a touch-tone telephone … other than that I fully expected to see Mr and Mrs Creech working the line and all the little Creeches busing tables.  It was a step back through time to the mid 60s.

The #1 food item in a cafeteria is still “that” as in “I’d like some of that, please.”

One still uses one’s index finger to indicate which “that” one is requesting.  A veteran line employee can tell if you are pointing to the butterbeans, string beans or fried okra … it’s like they tap into your brain waves.

I suspect that Mr Piccadilly employs some workers of Hispanic origin who may be short in English communication, but he knows better than to put them “on the line”.  Can one even say “do you want gravy on those mashed potatoes” in Spanish?  I KNOW you can’t say it in Farsi.

If I ever go into the cafeteria bizness, I am going to buy the very largest trays I can find.  Every cafeteria diner KNOWS you HAVE to fill up your tray … ever how many little bowls, plates, big bowls, little plates, and glasses it takes … there cannot be any tray showing when you reach the tally lady at the end of the line.  A veteran cafeteria aficionado can gauge the length of the line versus available choices left.  There is always the “pie on top” option.

You have piled up a dozen or so little bowls of vegetables, some sort of pot roast, the mandatory brick of fish with the lemon slice on top, and at least one “I have no idea” entrée that simply looked to good to pass up.  You reach the “pie section” and there’s no tray space left.   It’s OK to put the 8” high wedge of lemon meringue or coconut crème pie ON TOP of something else.  On top of the little plate holding the piece of garlic toast is a favorite way to solve the dilemma.

I cannot leave “the line” without paying tribute to butta beans and stewed tomatoes.  I am not sure Cafeteriasany other restaurants on earth ALWAYS serves them.  EVERY cafeteria has butta beans and stewed tomatoes.

… The “tally-up lady” is another “must have” at every cafeteria.  You do not “pay” the tally-up lady silly.  She simply tallies up your meal cost and gives you a little receipt.  You pay the register lady over by the exit.  What is preventing you from skipping out without paying?  The same little voice that tells you not to eat boogers.  No one in their right mind would skip out of “a cafeteria” without paying.

The penalty for doing so should be “spend six months as Michelle Obama’s personal proctologist”.

As you tote your heavily-laden tray to a beckoning table or booth you face your next choice … (1) leave all the little bowls and plates on the tray or (2) set them individually on the table and set the now empty tray on the empty tray stand.

It’s really not a choice.  Everybody I know takes the bowls and plates off the tray.  It’s the civilized way.

Most “cafeteria patrons” pause at this juncture to “return thanks”.  It is a very high %.  When the rapture comes, a cafeteria might be a very good place to be.

As you spread your napkin in your lap and begin to establish a “consuming order” for the various edibles, you meet my favorite cafeteria employee … the “just holler lady”.  She is at least 45 and may be older than Methuselah’s mamma … she is never taller than 5’2” … she wears a polyester shirt and a name tag.  Her name is one of the 9 accredited Southern names for short little wimmen in a cafeteria.  She asks if she can get you anything and when you say “no ma’m, I’m fine thank you” she hits you with that killer line

“if you need anything, JUST HOLLER!”

Even Gladys at WAFFLE HOUSE doesn’t get to use that line.  I dare you to go into a Ruth’s Chris or Wolfgang Puck’s or anywhere but a cafeteria and have a dear little lady say:

“JUST HOLLER if you need anything” … AND MEAN IT.

Epilogue:  There are still a few genuine cafeterias around.  A close approximation is Golden Corral.  I visit a GC just up the hill from Golden Corral’s World HQ… so you know their staff is SHARP.   Occasionally GC will have stewed tomatoes on the line.  A REAL Cafeteria ALWAYS has stewed tomatoes on their line.


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