People: Kay Brown

January 26, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

Kay Brown has spent most of her 54 years feeding hungry customers and keeping an eye on the goings on in downtown Liberty.

Her view was from Sandy's Grill on the Courthouse Square.

She was actually raised in the business she managed for 20 years before she retired and closed the doors Dec. 31. Prior to that she worked with her parents, Tom and Beltha True, who bought C.B.'s Restaurant in 1948. Brown bought the grill in February 1993. The grill got its name from W.J. Sandusky, a partner with True.

"I grew up in the restaurant," said Brown as she relaxed in her home on Brookside Drive. "After closing the restaurant, part of my life was gone."

When she goes downtown, people still tell her she had the best hamburgers in town. That makes the 16-hour days worth it, she said.


"When people told me that before, I though they were just being nice; they were serious." People liked her hotdogs, homemade biscuits and gravy, too.

There were times when she cooked breakfast and lunch at the same time. All the meals were cooked in the restaurant and people liked the country cooking.

"Over the years, Mother made homemade chili and hotdog sauce and we made our biscuits and gravy from scratch."

That kept the same customers coming back. Brown said some of the same people would stop by for breakfast, then return for lunch and sometimes dinner.

They also played pool in an adjacent room. In past years, a dance hall, skating rink, bowling alley and movie theatre were on the row of businesses in the brick buildings on the east side of the Square.

Before True bought the building, it was the old Allen Theatre, said Brown. She said you can see where the floor sloped down toward the front from the basement.

"We had more to do here in the 50s and 60s than we do now," said Brown. "A lot of time, it was standing room only in the poolroom while people were waiting for a table."

However, the pool room was off limits to the young Brown and other females.

"When I was growing up, girls were not allowed to play pool," she said. "Sometimes we could play after the poolroom closed, but women were not allowed there when men were playing. Women were not allowed to smoke then either. Neither were the females allowed to get a soft drink from the machine in the pool hall during business hours."

About all the girls could do in the bowling alley was set up the pins manually. "I did that," she said.

"Sometimes they would throw the balls before we could get the heavy wooden pins back in place," Brown said, adding it could be dangerous at times.

Later, when Brown managed the restaurant, she and her father were partners. She would come in early and work all day, then her father would work late for the people in the poolroom. Her former husband ran the pool hall during the day.

She had three helpers during the day and two at night.

"After Daddy died in May 2003, and I had to do all the work, it got to be too much," said Brown. "I had been thinking about selling out for a while and decide to live a little."

She has a sister, Gerri Threatt in North Carolina, and a 2-year-old granddaughter, Savannah, and daughter, Shawna Sharp, in Moreland, she likes to spend time with.

She had not had time to travel or visit her family because the work was too confining.

Her sister, Gerri, and aunt Jean Johnston, were on hand last week to encourage Brown to take life easy.

Although she enjoys not being at work, she especially misses the customers in the winter, the busiest time at the grill. "I got a lot of call-in orders (from people who worked downtown)."

Brown tried to get her daughter to run the restaurant, but that did not happen.

After battling with three bouts of cancer, Brown said she just couldn't work anymore.

But now that she does not have to get up at 5 a.m. everyday, she finds she misses seeing the morning crowd.

"They would tease and cut up a lot," said Brown. "Some would do about anything to get a laugh."

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