I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t a brightly lit Ferrell’s on Main Street across from the Cayce-Yost Department Store. Of course, I was only 2 years old when it opened in 1936. Little did we know that it was going to have an international reputation with its hamburgers and breakfast — and a menu that never changed.
Gossip has it that, at one time, Ferrell’s hamburgers were even sent to the crown heads of England.
Mrs. Cecil Ferrell, who died Monday at the age of 96, was able to share the stage with President George W. Bush when he came to Hopkinsville in 2005. She always loved the yellow dress she chose for that day, and she wore it for many occasions.
I seem to remember the first time when I visited Ferrell’s. I was very young and I think my uncle, Houston Morris, saw me coming. With arms wide open, he picked me up and whirled me, then set me on the sidewalk wall outside the restaurant and bought me a Coke.
Then I remember the hunters who came in the early morning to eat before they went out to hunt. I remember the policemen coming at all hours, and maybe at 2 in the morning they would ate cheeseburgers and chili before going home to bed. They must have had iron guts.
And I remember the morning group. When I was at WHOP, I walked all over town and left Shell-a-grams with the top news of the day. Ferrell’s was one of the restaurants I went to.
There was always the morning group there, and there still is — those that gather early to share the news of the day and eat breakfast. I’m thinking of people like Skip Aldridge, who has been going there since he was a kid, and Willie Renshaw and others who go almost every morning.
When daughter Lee Ellen and I would go, Mrs. Ferrell particularly liked Lee, and Lee liked her. We always sat in the back and watched Mrs. Ferrell count money. We also watched Dave Ferrell, her husband, who died several years ago, make little balls of hamburger meat. He had a pyramid of them in a big bowl. We were always fascinated that if one was too big, he knew and took a little pinch of meat off of it.
We liked to go in the back door and sit at a bench back there. Lee Ellen like Mrs. Ferrell’s pretty rings. It seems that she was always counting the money. She knew the value of a nickel or dime.
The lights were always on at Ferrell’s, even when it closed on Sunday.
The Ferrell’s restaurant will carry on, but it will never be the same without Mrs. Ferrell there counting the money. She lived for the family and the business and the customers, who she said made her day.
MARY D. FERGUSON is a New Era columnist. This column was transcribed for her by Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown. Reach Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send mail to her at 4345 Pembroke Road, Hopkinsville, KY 42240.