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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

John Davis


The Horseshoe Cafe

Perry Jane Davis Lambert was a natural-born entrepreneur. She grew up on a farm in Sanford, North Carolina. She earned her nursing degree and moved to Suffolk, Virginia, where she opened a hair salon in her home and taught piano lessons.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, The Horseshoe Café on East Washington Street in Suffolk was owned and operated by a Japanese man named Tsujiro Miyazaki. Yock was on the menu. Hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was taken away to an internment camp in Arkansas. His son and wife never heard from him again.

Perry Jane purchased the Horseshoe in 1945 from Tsujiro’s son, Raymond Harold Boone. The story goes that he taught her how to make the same yock his father made. Along with items like fried chicken, neck bones, pork chops, and steaks, Perry Jane also served yock at the Horsehoe, and it became a popular dish among her customers.

Her son, John Davis, remembers the crowds the restaurant drew, workers from factories and peanut plants nearby. Growing up, John worked behind the counter, which was shaped like a horseshoe, but eventually left Suffolk to join the military. He retired from the Secret Service in the late 1980s.

Perry Jane passed away in 1999, and the Horseshoe closed for good in 2002. The electric sign still hangs over the door of the empty restaurant, and the yock recipe lives on through Bernice “Florida” Cofield.

For twenty-five years, Bernice worked at the Horseshoe and learned to make yock from Perry Jane. Today Bernice fixes that same yock for fundraisers at Tabernacle Christian Church in Suffolk.

Date of interview:
2014-07-23

Interviewer:
Sara Wood

Photographer:
Sara Wood

Download Transcript

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