Grandma Elli Lou was the head cook at The Rendezvous Restaurant, located in Little ("Lil") Washington, North Carolina. (Side-Bar: Bath was the first town incorporated in North Carolina - in 1705. Two-hundred and sixty years later, on March 7, 1965 at 7:00 p.m., The Historic Bath Commission held a dinner meeting at that Restaurant.
The purpose of the meeting was to "bring back the glory of Bath" and its remarkable history). Grandma Elli Lou worked at the Rendezvous from 1959 - 1985. It's a strong possibility that she prepared the food for this meeting.
Grandma Elli Lou was a wise, humble, hard-working southerner, with good old-fashioned spiritual values. She worked Monday - Saturday, the afternoon shift. Once in a while on Sunday - never complained and never asked for a raise. Sometime around the early 1980's that historic restaurant closed down. Grandma Elli Lou was one of the best cooks in Beaufort County, Lil Washington.
Why did the owner close the restaurant. Why didn't he sell it to her? He could have partnered with her and made millions. I often wondered about that.
"Ms. Elli Lou, you're are a great cook, one of the best. I'll pay you to cook for me!" A well respected doctor in town, who appreciated her craft made this request. This was a wonderful opportunity for her. She turned him down. Modesty, loyalty to the Rendezvous, and a possible fear of success got in her way. WHY didn't she take that opportunity? I wondered about that as well.
Give her a pot of water, flour and a few onions and she'd whip up a meal. One that will have you salivating, licking your fingers and talking about for days.
Everyone in her presence felt her warmth. Grandma's hands held the switch for discipline, as well as the embrace of love. If you ever had the privilege of speaking with her or spent a brief moment in her presence, you felt that love. When you left her presence you were educated, encouraged, and uplifted by her words of wisdom.
I loved visiting my Grandma Elli Lou for the summer. On my return trips, I unpacked suitcases of fond memories during my youth. These were life lessons that I still treasure and smile about today.
Those deep black eyes told the story. Her dish panned hands would form a hooked finger, that shook in front of you as she emphasized each word as she spoke. She meant business. Nodding her head up and down with that "Lil Washington droll, she shared today's lesson - "Being Nice."
"Baby, you ought to be nice to everyone you meet, cause you never know who'll be the one to give you a glass of water one day!" - Grandma Elli Lou
What life lessons did your grandparent(s) teach you? Please share your experiences. I'd love to hear them.