Home Lifestyle RAMBLINGS: Lunch at Miss Lucy’s and a Southern gentleman

RAMBLINGS: Lunch at Miss Lucy’s and a Southern gentleman

For many people in Richmond County, paradise was torn down for a parking lot when Miss Lucy’s Boarding House closed its doors and was torn down for a parking lot next to Watson-King Funeral Home on East Franklin Street back in the ’70s.

When I first came to Rockingham in 1973, I soon discovered there was no other place certain people ate their weekday lunch meals other than Miss Lucy’s Boarding House. As a single gal, it was a perfect place for me to have a substantial mid-day meal and just have a snack before bedtime.

The era of people living in boarding houses was ending by then and there were very few boarders when I began my walks to Miss Lucy’s for lunch.

Lucy Smith, the daughter of the original owner, Lucy Shores, was always sitting in the foyer to collect money for the sumptuous meal. Despite losing boarders, Lucy Smith made the boarding house self-sustaining by the delicious meals served family style on a long dining table.

The fantastic cooks at Miss Lucy’s were a mother-daughter team, Frances and her daughter, Mary Frances. I later heard they became cooks for cafeterias in the county public school system.

The dining table was usually filled up by noon by the die-hard regulars. Most had their regular places. Latecomers usually rocked in rocking chairs on the front porch waiting for a place at the table.

There were several memorable characters who frequented Miss Lucy’s but perhaps the most memorable was an elderly gentleman who drove from Gibson everyday to eat at the boarding house.


Always dressed in a suit, Giles Yeomans Newton III shared with me aspects of a very interesting and colorful life. A native of Gibson who had retired to his home place there after attending Harvard Law School and serving as an officer in World War I. A huge baseball fan who could rattle off statistics without hesitation, he told me he went to Vero Beach, Florida, every spring to watch baseball spring training. He was also proud that only members of his family had owned the land on which he lived in Gibson except for Native Americans.

Will never forget on a rather hot day, Mr. Newton insisted on walking me back to the Journal office. Always the perfect gentleman, he also insisted on walking on the side closest to street. Up until that time, I never thought much about which side a gentleman should walk when escorting a lady. He was not a young man and I worried about his stamina to walk several blocks, but he did it with ease all the while making constant conversation.

Not too long ago, I googled Mr. Newton’s bio and discovered that he had run unsuccessfully as a Democrat three times for a U.S. House of Representatives seat and once for a U.S. Senate seat.

After Miss Lucy’s closed, I did not see Mr. Newton again. I have always considered it quite an honor this true Southern gentleman, WWI veteran, and humble man befriended me so many years ago at Miss Lucy’s Boarding House.

There were other interesting characters who regularly frequented Miss Lucy’s and I hope to describe them in my next Ramblings.

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.

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