Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Myth" of the Blue Front Cafe Told in Letter

Dear Editor:

After receiving my October 25, 2003, issue of The Yazoo Herald, I feel I can no longer keep quiet about the myth that keeps being perpetuated in the paper about the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia.

I was born in 1936 and my earliest memories are of' my mother, Bell Jackson, (Jessie Bell 'Jackson) running that cafe. In fact, my nephew in St. Louis still has the sign that says, "Bell Jackson's Cafe." She sold fish and chitterlings along cold pop and beer.

I can remember, being about knee-high to a duck, walking around with a bottle of beer in my hand. My love of beer continues til this day. When we got sleepy, she had a cot over behind the counter where we could sleep until she closed around midnight, and we went home.

Skip James and Jack Owens (who happens to be my cousin, deceased) never came or played there but Roscoe Fox (husband of Hattie B. Fox, employee of the Barbour family) did come every Saturday to collect the money from the juke box and change the records. Consequently, we had a great collection of Blues records because he gave us the used ones.

Mr. Hamp Cox, the local lawman came by frequently for a cold Coca Cola, and beer was regularly delivered by Mr. Moses' beer company. (I remember going along with my mother to visit Mrs. Josephine Moses, who passed away not too long ago.)

Mr. Hancock owned the store next to the cafe and Mr. Causey Fears ran the ice house. I remember "Silas Green from New Orleans" and "Rabbit Foot" performing in a tent on the grounds where the gin stood next door. (Still there but defunct.)

My mother ran that cafe until she had some sort of falling out with the Mutual Aid Society over who owned the building and they allowed Mrs. Mary and Carey Holmes to take over the building. I didn't know Duck. He must be one of Mrs. Mary's younger kids, but I was good friends with his older sisters, Honey T. Bone, Buke and Lula.

I happened to be in Yazoo City Aug. 28 and 29 and stayed at the Best Western where those kids from New York, who were doing a documentary on "Main Street USA," were staying. I was also at my lawyer's office on Main Street as they were interviewing Wardell Leach.

I told them this story and they wanted to know if I would tell this story on national TV. At the time, I said, "No."

However, I feel I cannot keep quiet any longer while my mother's memory is being sullied about and she is not given some credit for the operation of that cafe.

Barbara Jackson Williams Oakland, Calif.

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