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Food and Memories

In the past few months, because of deaths, two local iconic eating establishments in Hattiesburg either closed their doors or were reborn in the hands of a new generation. Each of the deceased principals had the gift of making the most casual customer feel welcomed and special.

Every such establishment needs its own métier to set it apart; of course, the food has to be good.


For me, other than the hot dogs, the call of the Coney Island Café was the trains just down the hill. I can remember sitting there on a stool in the 1950’s, watching the trains glow like sheet metal in sunlight, listening to the whistles, and writing postcards home in my mind from imaginary places at the end of the tracks. When I left for boot camp in San Diego at 17, my choice would have been a train, but the Navy put me on a bus.


John, at the C’est la Vie French Bakery, truly a gentle soul, was always good for a French language question that usually turned into a free lesson. We even shared a favorite sandwich: a sliced hard-boiled egg, with salt and pepper, inside a fresh, buttered baguette. He had his first one in Poland; mine was on the streets of Toulon, France, where my ship was in dry dock for a year.

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