The Rose of Savannah On Parade : Southeastern Bound

The Rose of Savannah On Parade

by James Byous on 12/30/10

Hey Y'all!  Watch out Pasadena!  Savannah's own Paula Deen is the Grand Marshal in this year's Tournament of Roses Parade.  Those of you who are not versed in Deendome, Miss Paula is a local legend that went from bag-lunch-lady to mega-star on the Food Network in short order.  She is without a doubt one of the greatest ambassadors that Savannah has produced over the years, working out of Lady and Sons Restaurant on the corner of Congress and Whitaker Street 

 Personally Paula Deen wouldn't know me if I ran my muscle car through the front gate of her Wilmington Island home.  But, I have met her.... Nice lady.  Seems many of my friends and acquaintances know her.  Years ago, in the old Lady and Sons one could see her talking with diners in the packed-tight, belly-to-bumper, standing-room-only eatery that had only, as I remember, about ten tables.  Then one day someone from Hollywood wrapped his or her lips around a piece of Paula's famous fried chicken or peach cobbler....  Well, the rest is history. 

Now she and the boys, Jamie and Bobby, have three floors and a basement just down Congress Street that immediately gained the same standing-room-only state.  My wife Becky and I have brides that insist on having their wedding receptions in the brick-lined basement just downstairs from the bustle and hum in the street level dining room.  It's for small groups only and in a photographer's opinion, dark as hell, but one taste of the collard greens and green beans and the ambience matters not.

Paula Deen and me backstage at the Lucus Theater. 

Miss Paula did have her picture made with me once.  It was backstage at the Lucas Theater during a fundraiser for a local women's shelter.  She and local dynamo-talent Kim Michael Polote were the main event for the show that drew in folks from as far away as San Diego, California.  Pretty good draw for a girl from Albany, GA. Looking back at the photo I realize that I resemble a re-enactment of the P.W. Herman's bellhop character in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  Becky had her photo made with her too.  She looks pretty good as does Miss Paula - Two Southern belles.  Nay, Southern babes. 

Becky with Paula Deen.  Two Southern Belles.

 Another Savannah legend, Ice Cream entrepreneur and movie producer, Statton Leopold, will honor Paula with a fundraiser on New Years Day.  His shop on Broughton Street will donate the proceeds from sales of their Rose Petal ice cream - that's right... Rose Petal ice cream - to the Summer Reading Program of Savannah's Live Oak Public Libraries.  Becky and I discovered the flavor a few years ago on Valentines Day.  The Beckster asked for a sample, which was quickly delivered by my friend Joe Ryan. 

"What," I asked," is the Rose Petal Ice Cream made of."

Rose PETALS," Joe quipped with a bright-eyed smile. 

Yep, real roses, real petals.  As 60's wild-food icon, Euell Gibbons would say, "They are edible."  And I will add, quite tasty when spooned up on a sugar cone.

Joe was filling in temporarily as manager for the establishment back then.  He had the experience because in the 1950's he had worked as a young soda jerk at the old store on Habersham and Gwinnett Streets.  There he served up Tutti-Frutti to most folks from the city including a famous lyricist-gone-Hollywood, Johnny Mercer, who lived just down the block.  But, that's another story that is coming to this site in the near future.

So, New Year's Day is set; wake up in the morning, three tablespoons of Tabasco sauce, one egg - raw, four teaspoons of mustard, mix well in -ounce glass of skim milk, drink quickly.  It won't help the hangover but after you watch the Rose Parade and drop by Leopold's it will make Rose Petal ice cream taste fantastic.  Tell them that I sent you.  In fact, I may see you there.

- Jim

Kim Michael Polote cuts a rug with Stratton and Mary Leopold.

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