For decades, diners invited to "Eat A Meal With Old Fred Long"


This advertisement appeared in the “The Colored Directory 1929.” Accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library.

MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

Fred Long was a tall and stout man of color who lived out his most of his lifetime in Hannibal, Mo. He was born in June 1874, to Sam Long and Julia Long, both of Monroe County, Mo. As a small boy, he lived with the Jno. D. McCann family in Jackson Township, Monroe County, where his mother was working as a servant in 1880.

In April 1908 he married Dollie Johnson. In 1910 he was working for T.B. Parks’ livery barn at 105-123 South Fourth Street. The census showed him living with his wife, Dollie, his mother, Julia (Long) Kelly, and his step-father, Sam Kelly, at 110 Lally Street in Hannibal.

Fred Long’s monument, right, Old Baptist Cemetery. Photo/Gary Maize.

By the time the draft board caught up with Long in 1918, he and his wife Dollie were living and working at 112 Bird St., where they operated the Savoy Restaurant. About that same time, the reputation of the 100 block of Bird had become rather seedy, with a newly opened bawdy house operated by Sarah Smith directly across the street.

An incident that drew negative attention to the neighborhood took place in April 1919, and was reported by the Quincy Daily Whig.

“Two soldiers wearing overseas stripes indicating that they spent at least six months apiece in France and who gave their names as Harold Reynolds and Robert Truman, were the cause of considerable excitement on East Bird Street early Saturday morning with the result that the men were arrested and locked up.”

The men were accused of being intoxicated, “and when refused admittance to a house on East Bird street started to kick down the door.”

Charged were two men who gave their names as Harold Reynolds and Robert Truman.

Prepares to move

In October 1919 Fred and Dollie Long took leap of faith, investing in the three-story building (still standing, now occupied by Becky’s Ice Cream Parlor) at 318 North Main Street. The building had previously been occupied by a saloon operated by George J. Koch, who lived with his family upstairs.

The real estate agency of George D. Clayton and Son facilitated the sale. Mr. Long said he intended to open a hotel in the building, as well as a restaurant.

The following March the Savoy restaurant moved to its new location. The name of the eating establishment was changed to Dollie’s, in honor of Fred’s long-time wife. Fred and Dollie moved in upstairs over the restaurant, and also offered rooms to rent. Tragically, just a year after moving into their new building, Dollie lost a battle with cancer of the stomach, dying March 11, 1921. She was only 44.

Fred continued as a landlord and restaurant operator after his wife’s death. Renters in 1922 included James Long, an employee of Fred Long; Al Davis, an employee of the White Star Laundry; and Minor Stone, a porter at the Windsor Hotel. Renters in 1930 included Everett Taylor, 35; Al Davis, 35; Luellen Bedford, 42; and Charleston Williams, 45.

“The Colored Directory 1929” lists Long’s restaurant as The Texas Café. “It is the oldest (of Hannibal’s five cafes and tea rooms) and is well known from coast to coast. There is a fifteen room hotel in connection and is furnished the finest in the middle west.”

Death calls

Fred Long was living on Spruce Street at the time of his death in October 1932. He was 58. He was buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery.

North Main Street, facing north. On the west side of North Main Street is the Planters Hotel at 319. Directly across the street, at 318, Fred Long, a long-time Hannibal businessman, operated a restaurant on the first floor beginning around 1920, and rented rooms on the second and third stories. He died in 1932. PHOTO/STEVE CHOU COLLECTION

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