Mac’s: Gone but not forgotten

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

To the Editor:

I, and hundreds of others, lost an old friend on Sunday, July 22. Mac’s Fish Camp died in the wee hours of the morning as the result of a fire, which destroyed not only the building, but the spirits of all who loved this unique place.

There will never be another restaurant quite like Mac’s. Originally operated by the McDowell family (“Mr. Mac”), the Fish Camp was a little gem nestled against the backdrop of the beautiful Alabama River.

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Rustic inside and out, it was a favorite spot for those who wanted the best catfish in the South and a “room with a view.”

Mac’s had a long list of loyal customers, many of them driving from as far away as Marion, Grove Hill, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham to dine and to experience Souther hospitality in its purest form.

I was dining at the Fish Camp one Saturday when a gentleman visiting from Fairhope came in for lunch because he heard that Mac’s had the finest catfish around. “This place has quite a reputation,” he told the cook. “I see why everyone loves it.”

The customers at Mac’s were treated like family, and the down-home atmosphere led to many lasting relationships. It wasn’t unusual for the employees to sit down at the table with diners and converse about the events of the week and life in general. Just recently, the lunch crowd was delighted to be served a batch of fried green tomatoes, an item that isn’t on the menu.

One of my former co-workers told me about his daughter who was serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa several years ago. When she learned that she would be returning home to Selma, she told her father, “The first place I want to go is Mac’s Fish Camp.”

When someone close to us dies, we pray for the soul to “rest in peace.”

Although I mourn the death of Mac’s Fish Camp, that is not my wish. I pray it will rise from the ashes and that it can be rebuilt as a gathering place for all those who value the uniqueness of our Southern heritage.

I hope there is a generous, caring person out there who shares my grief, and has the vision or the means to make this happen.

Janice C. Davis