My wife and I were in Pawhuska today for the funeral of a friend’s father. Before leaving this tiny, historic Oklahoma town, I mentioned to Michelle we should stop for lunch at Sally’s Café. I met owner Sally Carroll a couple of years ago when I was in town to do a few stories about Pawhuska and its people.
Sally, now 95 years old, made an impression on me then (Small Town America: Home of the Pioneer Woman and Sally’s Cafe), so I wanted Michelle to meet her. Here’s a portion of what I wrote about her in November 2010:
94-year-old Sally Carroll has been cooking breakfast for the town of Pawhuska since 1950. 60 years! Every morning, hunched over a hot griddle, she makes her eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and chili (her favorite), for her extended family. While Sally isn’t famous outside of Pawhuska, this small, stooped shouldered woman is larger than life here.
As we sat down at the counter for lunch today, I wondered how many people had sat on the same stool over the past 60 years, and how many burgers and sandwiches Sally had made and served in those six decades. With bent fingers, Sally was carefully slicing up a piece of her banana cream pie for the customer next to me, and slowly pouring her famous chili into styrofoam cups for a take-out order. Turns out she’s worked over the grill a lot longer than half a century. Sally told me she started restaurant work when she was 13. She made five dollars a week!
82 years later she makes a little more than five bucks a week, but her cafe is still open at least five days a week. She’s supposed to be closed on Saturdays. She says that’s her time to clean up the place. But inevitably, people will see her inside, walk in and ask her to cook up something. And she usually does.
Michelle and I ordered two cheeseburgers, two Pepsi’s, two packages of chips and two slices of pie (to take home) …. for less than 13 dollars. Good food, great prices, meeting a Pawhuska legend …. priceless!