Woe is us…
and all the other devoted patrons of Mac’s Fish Camp.
On a recent Saturday night, my family pampered our palates with this river restaurant’s southern-fried cuisine, not knowing it was our last Mac’s meal.
Then, here I was Monday morning…writing a post about local catfish restaurants when Mr. G (my husband) called from work with the news.
Our favorite all-you-can-eat catfish place was gone! It burned just hours after we left. So what kind of jinxes are we? Or for that matter—a couple of neighbors, friends from across the river and the probate judge— who were also there that evening?
Mac’s Fish Camp was a local landmark. It had owners who greeted you, patrons who welcomed you and a delightfully laid-back décor that could never be achieved by a professional designer.
Take a concrete-block building. Add some Plain-Jane lunchroom chairs, red-and-white checked tablecloths, and a bunch of hunting and fishing mounts. Place the menus, condiments and roll of paper towels in Bon Secour oyster buckets. Install big windows for a view of the river, and embellish with trees draped in Spanish moss. That was the blueprint for the most popular fish camp on our side of the Alabama River.
As my oldest son lamented, “It’s the only place I’ve ever been that had an alligator gar hanging on the wall!”
In recent news articles, photos show the devastation, but most of the mounts appear to be hanging on— deer, wild turkey, owl, largemouth bass —to name a few.
As for clientele, the place had universal appeal.
Everybody fit in. It was pretty much a come-as-you-are spot, even if you trolled in off the river. It was the place where we introduced our children to eating out. The reverberation of a conversational crowd kept the Sound of Un-Silent Kids to background level!
Several years ago, it was the choice for my father-in-law’s birthday party, and it’s been the choice for Sunday School get-togethers and political fundraisers. I’m told that country music singer Hank Williams Jr. even ate there.
To further expound upon the Mac’s memories of my son, he said the pond-raised catfish “never tasted fishy,” and “the hush puppies were the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere.” A bowl of coleslaw came first, and “all-you-can-eat” specials were delivered with the fish, hush puppies and French fries all in an oblong pan. You just passed it around and kept your plate full.
Yesterday, I tuned the radio to Selma’s Dixie 100 and heard a Mac’s ad. But, instead of hearing an upbeat fish duet inviting me to come on down, they thanked their supporters and said they would either have to take a long vacation or early retirement.
So, hear my plea.
We feel as if we’ve lost a good friend!
Mac’s Fish Camp, won’t you please come back?
PHOTO: Last Meal at Mac's Fish Camp