Happy Birthday, Betty Jo

Pictured, from left to right, Lexi Stallings, Heather Stallings, Norma Stallings, Alex Browder, Zac Stallings, Leann Stallings, Jonah Browder, Billy Stallings, and center, Betty Jo Whitaker, with her family Christmas 2018. 

On the behalf of the Times-Journal, I would like to wish Mrs. Betty Jo Whitaker a happy belated birthday. Betty Jo turned 82 Wednesday and celebrated her special day with her family.

The Ider native is known in her hometown as one of the original owners of the Cabbage Bowl. Here at the Times-Journal, she is known as Zac and Leann Stallings’ grandmother, which makes her family to the rest of us as well. You all may remember the front page article titled “Small town comfort food,” which ran two weekends ago. The article was about Ider’s crown jewel restaurant and its many transformations over the decades.

Betty Jo was my point of contact for the article and it was such an honor to get to hear all about the familiar restaurant from the lady herself who helped build its small town legacy. Like most everyone in the community, I had an opportunity to make many fond memories inside the walls of that building when I was growing up. During our interview, I mentioned to her how the Cabbage Bowl was mom’s father, Dale Hendricks’, favorite place to eat when he was alive.

Of course, Betty Jo remembered him and she went on to tell me how much he helped out at the restaurant during its years of operation under the Cabbage Bowl name. My Papaw Hendricks owned his own central heating and air business, and he would work on anything that needed fixing at the restaurant for free. In exchange for his reliable service, his meals at the Cabbage Bowl were always on the house. She said, “He was good to us, so we were good to him.”

I told Betty Jo that one of my favorite memories of him at the restaurant was after church one day when the family had arrived for the Sunday buffet. My papaw, being the man he was, wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and leave full and satisfied. I remember we had all finished our meals around the same time and we were looking forward to dessert. Since one person could only manage to carry a few desserts at a time, my pawpaw decided to get everyone’s slice of cake in one trip. He said, “Here, now, there’s no need in all of us going up there.” He got up, walked to the end of the buffet and picked up one of the dessert trays at the end of the bar. I remember turning to look at what he was doing up there and that was when I saw him walking back through the restaurant with a tray full of square slices of strawberry cake. He was smiling from ear to ear when he handed everyone at the table their slice. When everyone had a piece of cake in front of them, he took the remaining ones on the tray back to the end of the bar and set them down for the next person to grab. I said, “You know, Betty Jo, I think that memory stands out to me because of how comfortable he was at that restaurant,” I said. “He just made himself at home.” She laughed over the phone and said, “Honey, he was at home. When Dale walked through those doors, he was home.”

Thank you for resurrecting all of those fond Cabbage Bowl memories for me during that interview, Betty Jo, and thank you for being such a loyal subscriber to the Times-Journal. We all hope 82 is the best year yet.

Love,

the Times-Journal crew

— Kayla Beaty is the managing editor of the Times-Journal. She can be reached at kbeaty@times-journal.com.

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