By Stacey Patton Wallace
Editor’s Note: The Opelika Observer would like to note and apologize for an error made in last week’s Making the Grade printing. Sheila C’s Burger Barn was misspelled as ‘Shelia’. Our staff would like to apologize for any embarrassment or confusion resulting from the mistake.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I was born and raised in Alexander City, Alabama (“Eleck” City to the locals). I’m proud of my hometown and loved growing up there. However, social opportunities were scare there from 1962 to 1990, the year of my birth to the year I moved to LaGrange, Georgia, to begin my 30-year teaching career.
As I’ve previously mentioned, my two closest friends from Alex City are Amelia and Leigh Ann. We are proud members of the Benjamin Russell High School class of 1981.
Back in our high school days, Alex City had a Pizza Hut, Western Sizzlin, Cecil’s and a few fast food restaurants. Young people could roller skate at a local church’s gym, but by high school, that wasn’t cool.
The Strand, our local movie theater, only had one show, but it holds fond memories for me. For instance, when Amelia and I were in the 11th grade, we went to the Strand to see the original Friday the 13th. When the movie was about over (or so we thought), Amelia opened her purse to put up her glasses. Suddenly, a very scary scene surprised us all. Amelia’s purse flew up in the air, sending a shower of glasses, lipstick, a compact, etc. Searching in the dark for lost articles was quite a challenge. Also, the Strand’s floor made your feet stick to it, which was strange and disconcerting.
We really thought we were uptown in Alex City when the Playhouse Twin opened; it had TWO different movies playing. Later, a third screen was added, and we were beside ourselves. I laugh now when I think of the various gigantic movie houses which have 24 different screens.
Believe it or not, back then, many teenagers in Alex City amused themselves by driving up and down Cherokee Road or by talking in the parking lot of the Western Auto. I even remember one classmate telling me that on the past Saturday night, she and her friends drove up and down Cherokee Road with a full tank of gas to see how many times they could travel it before the tank was empty. Ah, small towns. Personally, I found The Love Boat and Fantasy Island to be more entertaining; I had a crush on Ricardo Montalban.
That said, I once again thank the Good Lord that I live in Lee County, the best place to wait until you get to Heaven. And obviously, we have numerous restaurants, many more movie choices and countless other entertainment possibilities than did my hometown.
Awhile back, Amelia, Leigh Ann and I went to Hamilton’s on Ogletree in Auburn. We were celebrating Leigh Ann’s birthday and wanted to dine somewhere special. Hamilton’s did not disappoint.
Gabe, our waiter, was fabulous, being helpful, kind and patient. We all ordered different salads. Leigh Ann chose the Classic House, which included iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, parmesan, wonton strips, with choice of dressing.
Amelia picked the Wedge, which had iceburg lettuce, bleu cheese crumbles, tomatoes, bacon and bleu cheese dressing. I ordered the Sensational Spinach Salad, which consisted of baby spinach, feta cheese, cranberries, pecans, strawberries, oranges, sunflower seeds and raspberry walnut vinaigrette. All our salads were delicious, and mine was well named because it was sensational.
For an entrée, Amelia chose the Catfish & Crawfish, which could be grilled or blackened catfish, cheese grits, sautéed spinach, fried crawfish tails and remoulade sauce. She said it was excellent.
Leigh Ann and I both ordered the Shrimp & Grits, which was listed as Hamilton’s specialty. It included shrimp sautéed with Capps’ sausage (Hamilton’s earns bonus points for using local sausage.), bell peppers, and crystal cream sauce cheese grits. Too. Delicious. To. Describe.
For dessert, we split an amazing bread pudding. Thankfully, Leigh Ann asked if the bread pudding had raisins or not; we’re not fond of raisins. Gabe, our sweet waiter, said that the bread pudding no longer had raisins. Instead, it was filled with melted milk and white chocolate chips. Oh, my two times. My compliments to Executive Chef Patrick Gallagher for an amazing meal. Run, do not walk to Hamilton’s on Ogletree. Amelia and Leigh Ann, this one was for you. Love y’all.
Hamilton’s is located at 1849 Ogletree Road in Auburn. The restaurant is open on Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Hamilton’s on Ogletree makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!
Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at email@example.com