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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Goodbye to a landmark

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  • A Bastrop landmark will soon be gone from its spot on "The Block" on East Madison.
    Bear's Construction began tearing down Jake's Cafe early Thursday morning after a partnership between Keep Morehouse Beautiful and the Jake Smith Estate deemed it necessary for demolition.
    The building holds many memories for those who grew up in the area, including Dr. William Alexander, Ivory and Lula Smith, Arthur Hamlin, Ada Smith and Reginald Smith, all whom gathered to reminisce about the Cafe.
    As a child, Lula Smith, who grew up in Mer Rouge, caught the Missouri-Pacific Bus each morning at 6 a.m. to come to Bastrop for school. Each day, owner Jake Smith would open the cafe for her to wait for school to start.
    "He was alway worried about me, saying I was so skinny," Lula said.
    But, that memory is just one that she had. Lula actually met her future husband, Ivory Smith at Jake's.
    "In 1956, I met Jake's son who took me to the cafe and while drinking a Orange Nehi, I met Lula," Ivory laughed.
    Hamlin remembers when Jake's was the only place young people could go to hang out and he too, has fond memories of the cafe as well as it's owner.
    "I would just sit at the front window and watch all the traffic go by," Hamlin said. "All I could afford was a hamburger but, I had a good friend whose daddy had made a deal with Jake and he could go in anytime and order whatever he wanted. Needless to say, I was a little jealous."
    Jake Smith ran the cafe for 40 years, until his death in 1965. He was known for his love of the community and church as well as his staunch belief in education, made visible by his sending all three of his children to college. He is said to have had the best chili and ice cream around and never turned anyone hungry away.
    "One day, this big guy came in and ordered lunch and then said it wasn't enough, so Jake gave him more," Dr. Alexander chuckled. "When it became time to pay for his meal, the guy stood up and said he didn't have any money and was ready to fight. But, Jake just let him go."
    The Cafe was also the Continental Trailways bus stop and a shoe shine stand was located out front.

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