March 9, 2011

Meet Me at Mildreds!

Was it the creamy mashed potatoes speckled with chives, or was it the sweet onion in the squash casserole? It was quite possibly the crispy fried chicken, cornbread and the "tastes like Mom's" meatloaf slices. Oh yes, and her banana pudding that brought back memories of Sunday dinner at Grandmother's house.

 I would say that discovering Mildred's felt like time stood still in the deep south...a more gracious and gentler time!

Noel Baxter Dowling built a home in Dothan, Alabama, in 1901 at 401 North Alice Street, which eventually became the home of his daughter Cora Lee Dowling and her husband, Richard Hawthorne Ramsey.  Mr. Dowling died, and his wife, Lizze Wells Dowling preferred to live at the family's house in Pinkard, Alabama.

 Richard Hawthorne Ramsey came to Pinckard for work on the Midland Railroad.  His father, David Wardlaw Ramsey was a veteran of the Civil War who trained at Tulane University as a doctor after the War and then became a Baptist minister.  The church at which he preached was on the property that was once part of a large plantation owned by Joseph Richard Hawthorne, his wife’s father.

Cora and Richard Hawthorne Ramsey raised their four children, Richard Hayward, Joseph Robert, Cassie and Francis, in this house. Their son, Robert Ramsey remembered driving the cow from his parent’s house in the 400 block of North Alice Street to his grandparent’s farm in Pinckard .

 Cassie Ramsey lived in this house until the 1960's and retained ownership until a few years before her death. She had sold the home to her nephew, Richard H. Ramsey, III. Richard renovated the home in 1988 and converted it to his law office. Mildred purchased the house in June of 1996. The home on 401 North Alice is now Mildred's Restaurant.

Mildred's uses the original room layout of the home which provides several cozy dining areas, each with its own personality and decor. Julie's room is light and bright with a whimsically decorated fireplace mantle. Gene's room was previously the law library and is more masculine with mahogany paneling and dining tables. Lena's room  glows with light reflected from its warm wallpaper and two walls lined from floor to ceiling with Mildred's extensive collections of tea sets, china and other porcelain collectibles.

A Maine House Mosaic

Estelle's Southern Tea Cakes
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Dough should be soft. Roll dough out onto a floured surface until approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into desired shapes and bake on a slightly greased sheet for 10 to 12 minutes

"I am a writer who sings a song of the South.
My heart beats in unison with its people;
my soul is soothed by the sighs of the wind
as it drifts through the needles of the arrow straight pines
 standing sentinal against the back drop of a cerulean sky."
Sharman Burson Ramsey

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