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Street Talk

Chef Cycles To Combat Expanding Waist Line

By Mickey Howley

As luck would have it when I was a long haired obnoxious child in the 1960’s, Santa seemed to have a pretty good relationship with the Schwinn Bicycle Company. My dad, having started his police career as a motorcycle cop in the mid 1950’s, knew a few things about the rules of the road, the habits of automobile drivers and how a two wheeled rider relates to other traffic.  

He gave my brothers and me some intense lessons on the safe operation of the Christmas Schwinns. Automobiles drivers are looking for other automobiles (and bigger trucks) and if they don’t see a large man on a full dress Harley who is about to write them a traffic citation, they sure won’t see a skinny kid on a candy apple red banana seat bike.

Even though you may have the right of way in a given traffic situation, you might end up dead right. Always watch out for the other guy because he may not be watching for you. While electronic gizmos are now the big thing in Santa’s bag, I’m pretty sure there will still be some more Christmas bicycles coming soon and kids out on the street riding them. Please keep an eye open for them.

There is a former kid who has gone back to riding bicycles. John Tatum the owner, along with his wife Becky, of the White Star Kitchen on Main Street is on two wheels again.  He is riding a bike on the streets and sidewalks of Water Valley not because he can’t afford the diesel for his truck, but for health reasons. Working as chef and operating a busy downtown business puts on the pounds and piles on the stress. His tongue and belly are the quality control of the operation and so in an effort to keep those parts healthy, as well as the rest, John is out pedaling.

John and Becky have recently re-opened the dining room of the White Star for evening dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.  Expanding the business was a tough call in this tight economy, where one even thinks twice about spending money to keep up a car or house. Adding more employees and more hours and spending more on the menu is simply taking on more risk for their already large Main Street investment. But what they have done, and thankfully we also have El Charrito as a rock steady restaurant, is give Water Valley a second option for sit down evening dining downtown. And that is very important.

Mayor Jack Reed Jr. of Tupelo told me not so long ago that the single first main goal for starting the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association some 19 years ago was to bring one restaurant to downtown Tupelo. They had none. Not a single place where one could get a meal in the evening downtown.

Reed and others felt that if one restaurant could come in and make it, it would be the catalyst for the resurrection of downtown Tupelo. He was right, real right.  Tupelo today has a great downtown: an enticing streetscape, fully occupied buildings top and bottom, a solid business climate for economic and social activities day and night. All that took a lot of work, but the start was the simple desire to dine out and have a good meal in the heart of the city.  Jack Reed has a personal motto that I’m fond of, “God wants life to be a party; it’s just up to us to make sure everyone is invited.”

See for the continuing survey on holiday habits, the current leader is about cards, cookies, and mistletoe. That can’t be right.

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