When Mother bought Mary Mac's in the early sixties, Ponce de Leon was already an eclectic and colorful mix of businesses and homes. It was an interesting area to explore- though my exploring was limited to a block. Across the street was a laundry, nightclub and Landers Poultry.
I was fascinated by Landers. When you walked in, the floor was covered with saw dust and chicken cages filled the left wall. The right side of the store was the counter where you could get eggs, every chicken part imaginable and butter. In the back was where they did the chicken processing. It was one of the few places left in the city where you could get fresh chickens butchered to order.
The next block was taken up by the original Krispy Kreme location in Atlanta which is still in operation. My big treat was to get a nickel from Mom and walk across the street to get a chocolate covered doughnut topped with whipped creme and a cherry! In those days, I was allowed to go by myself at the age of 6. The ladies at the counter knew me and and would have my favorite doughnut ready for me if they saw me coming.
The most colorful neighbor though was Miss Bessy. She ran the local brothel which was located directly across the street at the corner of Ponce and Myrtle. The building still stands and is now Woodruff's Bed and Breakfast. Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to go into the building. At that time, the call board for the girls was still in the downstairs office/foyer.
I do not remember Miss Bessy just Mom's stories about Miss Bessy coming over for lunch during breaks to get a lunch for herself or the girls. And, the patrons having lunch themselves after their visits. Mom never shared names of the clientèle but it was always a who's who of local and state officials and business men.
Mom always had a cordial relationship with Miss Bessy- no judgments. She said Miss Bessy was providing a service just as she was. Mom always had a welcoming atmosphere for all of Atlanta's colorful characters. In her dining room, everyone had a place at her tables. It provided a great lesson for me in the years to come.