Mama Dip took care of a mama-to-be when she really needed it

Mildred "Mama Dip" Council, the late owner of Mama Dip's Kitchen in Chapel Hill,  released the old-fashioned Southern cooking cookbook, "Mama Dip's Family Cookbook."
Mildred "Mama Dip" Council, the late owner of Mama Dip's Kitchen in Chapel Hill, released the old-fashioned Southern cooking cookbook, "Mama Dip's Family Cookbook." jleonard@newsobserver.com

Mama Dip never knew this, but I think she may be the reason why I had a healthy baby boy in 2001.

Early that year, I had a terrible case of morning sickness. I worked in our Chapel Hill office, which was a couple of blocks away from Mama Dip’s Kitchen on Rosemary Street.

It was a struggle every day for me to make it through the morning, with me and my co-workers sitting way too close to the bathroom. I couldn’t keep any food down, at least in the morning. (TMI, sorry).

Over time, I learned that I usually recovered after lunch. I figured that out after a couple of visits to Mama Dip's, where I had ordered a vegetable plate, with mashed potatoes (Lord, no gravy), okra, green beans, etc. Healthy stuff. (Although the barbecue and the fried chicken would have been excellent choices for anyone who was not pregnant.)

I started showing up daily at Mama Dip’s, dutifully, at noon for my medicine. Then at 11:45. Then 11:30. Soon I was eating lunch at the embarrassing hour of 11 a.m. I was practically the only person in the restaurant.

Each day, the vegetable plate. Months went by, and I managed to get over the queasiness.

In July of that year, I headed over toward Mama Dip’s, but I wasn’t going to the restaurant. I was on my way to my hairdresser next door. The baby was due in a few weeks, and gosh knows when I'd be able to get there for another haircut.

It was a really hot day when, walking through the parking lot, I managed to step in a pothole. For obvious reasons, I couldn't see the hazard down below. I went tumbling to the asphalt.

Disoriented, I managed to pick myself up and limp to my hairdresser's chair, where I plopped down and proceeded to black out.

Sheri, a fantastic hairdresser who also happened to be a paramedic, called 911. She got the world’s coldest Mountain Dew out of her fridge and made me take a few sips.

I mumbled to Sheri that I didn't want an ambulance. I just needed to sit still for a minute and pull myself together.

Sheri knew just what to do. She went next door to Mama and got me a plate — mashed potatoes, corn and squash casserole? I don't remember.

But I sat in the salon and slowly recovered with the help of good Southern cookin'. I didn't get the haircut, but as luck would have it, the next client who arrived happened to be the nurse for my OB. She thought maybe I needed to be checked out. So yet another client, a total stranger, strapped me into her car and drove me to the doctor's office, where the staff put me on a fetal monitor as a precaution.

The baby was fine. But the next day the X-rays revealed that I had a broken foot. So when I went to the hospital in labor a month later (in 100-degree heat), I was in a cast. It was not a pretty sight.

The beautiful boy was born just before midnight on Aug. 7.

I haven’t been to Mama Dip's lately, but I will always have a sweet memory of that place. And not just for the sublime strawberry shortcake.

Maybe it was the food that healed me. Or maybe it was the nice folks who brought me warm cornbread and cold iced tea. It was kinda like your mama taking care of you.

And she was.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill

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