|Above: My Aunt Myrtle Jackson Rouse, fishing off of the
pier at a friend's camp on the lake in Slidell.
Left: Left to right, my Grandma Jackson, cousin Reba and
me, in the parking lot of the White Kitchen.
|There were three White Kitchen restaurants and I believe the last one closed in the late 1950's-early
'60's. But long after the restaurant pictured above closed and the building had been demolished,
the sign familiar to so many, with the well-known image of the Native American cooking over a
campfire, stood sentinel at the edge of the parking lot. Who knows...possibly dreaming of the
restaurant's golden days, when tired and hungry travelers still raced along the old highway. And,
maybe even, waiting for the glimpse of an old Pontiac carrying a blue-eyed little girl with ribbons in
her hair...who always squealed with delight when the car turned into the parking lot.
|Melinda Tucker captured this image of an old White Kitchen sign along Highway 190 in 2003.
When she saw it again recently, post-Katrina, she noticed that it had taken quite a battering
and the lettering was no longer legible. With the letters may have gone the last remnants of
the once-popular restaurant. Many thanks to Melinda for sharing this with us.
Sometimes, on a Friday afternoon, my Aunt Myrtle would make the rounds in her trusty
Pontiac, picking up all the Jackson aunts, uncles and cousins who wanted to spend the
weekend at her house across the lake. She lived in the city most of the time, but she had
a little house just across the state line in Mississippi, and spent a lot of time there. It was
always a happy day when my mom agreed to let me go. If my mom wasn't going along,
before she would agree to let me go--since she was a strict disciplinarian (and my Aunt
Myrtle was not a disciplinarian at all)-- she felt the need to elicit all manner of solemn
promises from my aunt about what I would and would not be allowed to do. Aunt Myrtle
would nod enthusiastically and agree completely, but, by the time Chef Menteur Highway
had turned into Old Highway 190, going east toward Mississippi, my mom's rules had
pretty much gone right out of the open window of that old Pontiac.
About halfway between New Orleans and our destination was a traveler's landmark and
one of my all-time favorite places. The White Kitchen was a restaurant in Slidell, LA (one
of three White Kitchens). What a great place it was--especially for me! All the waitresses
knew my Aunt Myrtle and, since I was usually the only child in the group, that meant some
really neat perks for me. Did I want a whole pickle with my burger instead of slices? No
problem. Did I want 5 cherries on my sundae instead of one? No problem. Did I want to
play for an hour on The Claw, trying to win one of those little teddy bears, without ever
putting any coins in the machine? No problem.
I'll never know what it's like to be a celebrity who receives special treatment at one of
the trendy clubs in L.A. or N.Y., but I've been to the White Kitchen with my Aunt
Myrtle....and it can't be much better than that! Nancy