Favorite

Showdown at the City Cafe 

When Big Six confronts Bubba, the skillets start flying.

click to enlarge THE RED SCARF
  • THE RED SCARF

The following is an excerpt from “The Red Scarf,” Richard Mason's novel loosely based on his own childhood in Union County. It's published by August House. Ernest Dumas, another son of Union County, comments about this story:

“My cousin Bobby in Texas, who is about 75, remembers sitting in the car in front of Peg's Pool Hall one day when he was small and there was a big brawl involving the constable, Wing, and some roughnecks. One of them took the constable's gun and was about to shoot him but someone came to Wing's aid and subdued the fellow.”

Friday, November 24th, 1944

Norphlet is only about 650 people, but it was a whole bunch bigger during the oil boom of the 1920s. It ain't much of a town now. Most of the buildings are vacant, and me and my friends have a lot of fun playing war games in them. Of course, in a little, dinky town like Norphlet I know everybody by their first name, and they sure as heck know me, 'cause I'm their paperboy.

I passed the pool hall, which we call Peg's Place, the Red Star Drug Store, the Post Office, and there, right next to the Post Office, is the City Cafe. Old Mrs. Martin owns and runs the Cafe, which serves up a great blue-plate special usually featuring catfish or buffalo fish caught out of the Ouachita River. Me and Daddy go by there at least once a week to eat catfish. ... Well, I'll admit the City Cafe could use a little fixing up 'cause old Mrs. Martin can't see very good and she lets the Cafe get a little messy. Heck, it's more than a little messy, and Momma just shakes her head when Daddy tells her we're going to eat there. Momma ain't about to eat there.

Mrs. Martin is a really old widow woman of about 50, a kinda large woman who wears her gray hair in a big bun on the back of her head and never wears no lipstick or nothing. Her old blue checked dress that she wears most every day comes down to her ankles, and she wears rolled-up hose. She has a voice like a foghorn, and when she yells an order from out in the Cafe to Bubba, who is a-cooking back in the kitchen, he can hear her clear as a bell. Momma said Mrs. Martin's Pentecostal, and they don't allow no makeup or nothing like that. However, she does dip snuff and carries a little cup around to spit in, but I guess that's all right with the Pentecostals. Of course the snuff, stale beer and Bubba frying catfish in the kitchen without no fan makes the Cafe smell to high heaven, but, heck, nobody gives a durn 'cause the food's so good.

I smiled and almost laughed out loud as I looked at the plywood Mrs. Martin had nailed in the windows after the big fight last week. Heck, that brawl — I'm telling you it was one of the most exciting things Norphlet has seen in a heck of a long time. Dang, I wish I could've been there instead of just hearing about it. ...

You might know it was some of them sorry oilfield roughnecks that started it. ... This past week three of them roughnecks, who work on Mr. Crotty's drilling rig out near Snow Hill, came a-walking into the Cafe right before it closed. ...

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Paul Peterson

  • That’s the spirit

    ‘Simple Christmas’ sticks it to critics.
    • Jan 14, 2010
  • Holiday blend

    take equal parts arena rock and classical, fuse with Christmas carols and serve rock opera style. Then sprinkle with violins, 14 vocalists, two narrators, state-of-the-art pyro and lasers and you've about got the essence of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
    • Dec 19, 2009
  • Holiday blend

    Take equal parts arena rock and classical, fuse with Christmas carols and serve rock opera style. Then sprinkle with violins, 14 vocalists, two narrators, state-of-the-art pyro and lasers and you've about got it.
    • Dec 18, 2009
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation