Stacey Patton Wallace
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, marked the second time that Mike and I haven’t gone back to Long Cane Middle School in LaGrange, Georgia, to teach with the most amazing faculty and staff on the planet. As teachers, Mike and I were very blessed to work with people we considered family and not just co-workers. We loved and supported each other at all times.
In addition, Mike and I had the best administrators in Troup County: Mrs. Glisson, our principal, and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. McInvale and Mr. Placide, our assistant principals. In May 2020, during the darkest days of the pandemic, our four administrators drove to all their teachers’ homes to deliver goodie bags during Teacher Appreciation Week. They even came all the way to our home in Auburn, as well as other places like Opelika, Valley, Columbus, etc. That really touched our hearts. Mike and I both teared up when they left. No other administrator had ever gone to that much trouble for us.
Since we worked with and for people of that caliber, it feels a little sad when we don’t go back to school in August. Also, I taught for over half my life and Mike taught for exactly half of his. We are proud to have been a part of the teaching profession. In fact, I still have an old sweatshirt in my closet which says, “Teaching — the profession which creates all others.” Mike and I had a great 30-year run; however, our time is past. Now it’s time for another generation of young teachers to take our places.
On Aug. 3, Mike and I had a blast because we met some of our LCMS teaching family for lunch in downtown West Point, Georgia. We met them at Pokey’s 8th Street Grill. Mike and I hadn’t eaten there since we were teachers. We were really excited to see our teaching family. Also, I was happy to get to eat at Pokey’s because they make the best cheeseburger in Troup County, Georgia.
Pokey’s 8th Street Grill is a family owned and operated business and has been serving West Point since 2015. The restaurant is in a wonderful old building which used to be a furniture store in the 1960s, according to Mike, who is a West Point native. I love the restaurant’s original brick on one wall, Coca-Cola signs and an Old West Point Pepperell sign. The building is very similar to the restaurants I love in downtown Opelika.
When our friends arrived, it was so great to hug their necks and catch up with them. Preplanning days go by quickly, and we were touched that they took time out of their very busy schedule to visit with us.
For his lunch, Mike chose the Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich, which had Pepper Jack, Provolone and American cheeses on grilled toast; it came with a side of French fries. Jeannie picked the Oven Roasted Chicken Salad, which included chicken, Iceberg and Romaine Mix, tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons and cheddar cheese. Theresa, Joanie, Traviera and Sandy all ordered the Lil’ Poke, a 3.5-ounce burger with mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion (or however you like it) and a side of French fries. However, I chose the 7-ounce Pokey Burger with American cheese and fries. After all, it had been 17 months since I had eaten my favorite cheeseburger in Troup County, Georgia. All right, I see you grinning, so I’ll be honest. I ALWAYS pick the full-sized Pokey Burger with cheese.
As usual, my cheeseburger was indescribably delicious. Cheeseburgers made at Mom and Pop restaurants are always the best to me. Our friends’ Lil’ Pokes were also terrific, as were Mike’s grilled cheese sandwich and Jeannie’s chicken salad. Traviera also enjoyed her double chocolate chip cookie with cream in the middle. However, Traviera is young and in great shape. Since I’m neither, I passed on dessert, for once.
Besides incredible burgers, Pokey’s 8th Street Grill also offers a variety of sandwiches, tacos, catfish, chicken tenders, nachos and salads. The restaurant sells chicken salad, pimento cheese, broccoli salad and coleslaw by the half pound or pound if you are planning an event.
Pokey’s 8th Street Grill is open Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.; Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. (central time); closed on Sunday.
If you ever travel to Troup County, Georgia, believe me, you will want to eat at Pokey’s.
After lunch, I went to our car while Mike was still taking pictures of the restaurant for this review. As Mike crossed the street, a beautiful, young woman came up to him and said, “Mr. Wallace, is that you?”
It was Anica, a student whom we both taught 10 years ago. It was so wonderful to hug her neck and find out how she was doing. We were not at all surprised to hear that she was doing great. Anica told us that she is a rising senior at Ole Miss, pursuing a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Entrepreneurship. She has spent the summer in Washington, D.C., interning for a public policy and government affairs firm.
Someone once said that teaching is the only profession in which one doesn’t get to see the finished product; that’s usually true. Therefore, it was a special blessing to see a grown-up Anica. She said our meeting was, “a God thing.” I quite agree. Mike and I are so proud of Anica; we always knew that she would be very successful.
Our Long Cane Middle School Family, this review is for you. May God bless you with a safe, fun, productive school year. Mike and I love and miss you.
Pokey’s 8th Street Grill 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 firstname.lastname@example.org