Simpson: The Dairy Queen diaries

Published 8:46 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

By Rich Simpson
Simpson is a former LaGrange resident, and LHS graduate, who spent 40 years in radio.

I have been recounting my 70 years on God’s green earth. This is my latest installment. Former LaGrange resident, and high school classmate, Cleve Tidwell recently looked back at the loss of his friend and former classmate Mitchell White. Back in the 60’s, Cleve and Mitchell joined the Marines, together.

Then, I started picturing Mitchell.

Big smile, great to be around. Laughed a lot. Great guy. In my mind, I can still see him laughing and I can still hear him laughing.

At every opportunity, Sen. William Fulbright would embrace getting in front of the press and talking down the Vietnam War effort. He would say enough negative things to where the North Vietnamese would maintain the resolve to keep fighting. Our government representatives can never, and will never learn to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Our brave young men fought gallantly. They were not allowed to claim victory because of blow hards in Washington like William Fulbright. And brave young men, like Mitchell White, were not allowed to return home to happy homecomings. 

After decades, she remembered my name.

I took my family to the LaGrange Dairy Queen 25 years after moving away. I walked up to the counter and said to a lady who I remembered working there in the 60’s: “Didn’t you work here in the 60s?” I was shocked when she replied “Yes, and I know who you are, Rich Simpson.” She remembered my name after 25 years. I’m still surprised she even knew my name. That’s what I like about small towns.

The lady was one of two sisters who worked at Horace Carter’s Dairy Queen, for years. Their names, Rachel (Bowles) Garrett and Tommie Nell (Bowles) Pitts. 

These ladies are two of the many reasons LaGrange will remain a special place in my heart. They made you feel welcome.They were always smiling.

Dairy Queen owner Horace Carter had a great sense of humor

Jenny Smith: “One (of the sisters) sent me a condolence card when my mother died. I ate there all the time. I loved those char broiled. Mr. Carter would scare me to death. Once I brought my KFC shrimp box and purchased a drink from DQ. They had the outside picnic table to the left newly made. He called me over PA system about bringing food from elsewhere but laughed when I started getting my stuff up to leave!”

Another Dairy Queen customer said: “He always looked after “his teenagers. No rif-raf allowed around his kids.”

Ellen Richter Griffin said: “We would go there on Sunday nights after church. Mr. Carter would send us home when it got too late. He knew all of our names and threatened to tell our parents if we were too rowdy.”

Steve Garrett remembers “the football team stopping at the DQ headed to an out of town game. We each got a bag with a burger and fries. In 71-72 timeframe.”

Carl Lockman: “Just a shame that most of us never realized at the time just how “lucky” we were to grow up in LaGrange….”

Lyn Gendusa: “I knew I was blessed when I moved to LaGrange at 15 … Still so glad to be a part of the family of LHS.” 

Janette Geter Wilkerson: “Those memories are precious. I feel so blessed to be in touch with all those friends from LHS who still own a spot in my heart. FB is wonderful. We were indeed blessed to grow up in that era in that place.

Patricia Langford: “I remember sitting on those steps before school with classmates and watching the students that were lucky enough to have cars and trucks drive by to the parking lot around the corner.  Lucky to have grown up there.”

Dairy Queen/New Franklin Road fact: At the time it opened, Oct. 1 or 2, 1962, Johnny Carson began hosting The Tonight Show.

I call it “The Spirit of LaGrange.” 

From the rousing pep rallies in the LaGrange High auditorium, to the Friday nights at Callaway Stadium, Mr. Deal’s LHS Marching Band’s light was always shining bright. I can still hear it. I can still feel it.

I’ve been gone for decades, but my spirit still walks the halls of LHS.