Davis Auto owner shares ‘fellowship’ with the community to say ‘Thank you’

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, November 28, 2019

Picnic tables replaced broken cars at Davis Auto Wednesday and the folks filling the seats were thankful they were gone.

It allowed for more elbow room.

They were also thankful for their full plates and for Larry Davis, who orchestrates the pre-Thanksgiving lunch at his garage each year on the day before the holiday.

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“I do this as a thank you to the city of Brookhaven for supporting me during the year,” Davis said as he weaved in and out of the line of hungry visitors to his shop. Some were first-time diners who caught wind of Davis’ free lunch and headed over. Some were repeat visitors who come for the fellowship just as much as the food.

The line stretched outside the front doors through the garage to the covered tables in the back that were filled with large trays of food and smiling volunteers dishing it out.

People filled their take-out covered plates with a selection of meat, potato salad, dressing, baked beans, corn and biscuits. Fitting dessert in took a second trip.

Some took theirs to go while others grabbed a seat at one of the tables and made conversation with whoever joined them.

“You’ve heard of junkyard dogs. This is the junkyard eating,” Davis said.

He’s been putting this lunch together for 15 years. It started small and grows each year. His family and friends volunteer to help and his suppliers let him buy the meat at wholesale prices.

This year he’s serving 60 turkeys, 30 hams, 300 pounds of pulled pork, 200 pounds of sausage and lots of deep fried bacon.

Jimmy Harris was picking meat off the smoked turkeys just as quick as his helpers could put a pan of it in front of him. He’s been cooking the turkey and ham for Davis for the past six years. He smoked some of the turkeys and deep fried the others.

“It’s a wonderful thing that he does,” he said of Davis.

Davis’ father, Larry Sr., started an auto garage in 1966. Davis has been in the towing business for 30 years. He has spent his life at the corner of Industrial Road and North Jackson Street and believes he’ll probably die there someday. But Wednesday wasn’t a day to think about that. There were too many people to hug and hands to shake.

“I enjoy it every year. The bigger the line is the more I like it,” he said, stopping to throw his arms around someone. It might have been someone he knew, but more than likely it was not.

“That’s all it is, is fellowship. If you think of it as anything but fellowship, don’t come. It’s friends. It’s good folks.”

About 900 people came through the line Wednesday.

L.J. Green received a hearty handshake and a pat on the back as he was standing in line to get a foam container filled with meat and dressing. He said more people need to follow Davis’ example.

“I think it’s good, real good,” he said.

Davis moved from one station to the other, stopping to make sure there was enough ice, enough drinks, enough dressing. He surveyed the crowd steadily coming through the door.

“I don’t care if you’re poor or if you’re rich. I don’t care if you’re on a bicycle or if you’re in a Lexus,” he said.

District 3 Supervisors Nolan Williamson was joined by some friends as he waited in the double bay of the garage.

“Larry Davis is known three or four counties wide. He’s a good guy,” Williamson said. “Larry does a good thing. He does this every year.”

Roger Scarbrough lives in the neighborhood and heard there was good food at the garage. He came on over.

Arlene Brooks was back for a second year and turned around in the line when she heard Scarbrough say it was his first time there.

“It’s delicious,” she said. “The food is delicious but it’s the smiling people. Seeing everybody else and meeting different people and seeing that they’re happy. They appreciate it.”

Grady Case and his two buddies from S&S Service took their plates and sodas and sat in the back of a pickup in the lot across the street from the garage. This is Case’s second year to take advantage of the Thanksgiving meal.

“I think it’s a great thing to give back,” he said.

Dinky and Jimmy Davis brought the entire crew from Dude’s Biscuits to help serve and also supplied pans of biscuits for the spread.

It used to be another Davis who was in charge of the bread. Jewel Davis used to make her giant fluffy biscuits for her son’s community lunch. She died in 2017, but the memory of her cooking lives on.

“For years, his mama made the biscuits,” said Ken Powell of R.B. Wall Oil Co. “She made these big ol’ cathead biscuits. She was so proud and he was so proud to see her proud. I don’t know how many dozen she would make every year but it was dozens and dozens of cathead biscuits.”

Powell played football with Davis at Brookhaven Academy a few decades ago. The two are still friends and Powell came through the line to see his buddy.

“He’s a good, good fellow,” Powell said. “And he loved his mama dearly.”