Road trip with Lillian Galloway is a ride down memory lane — with great food

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

This week’s installment is more like a two-for-one : two “Lunches” on a road trip to south Louisiana with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Lillian (Galloway) Cobb . The adventure began on Friday with a delicious lunch at Herby-K’s and ended the next day with a nostalgic meal at Lea’s Lunchroom in Lecompte.

When we were young, we’d talk about growing up and living next door to each other in houses separated by a white picket fence. We’d reenact the movie Grease, singing each song from the soundtrack word-for-word.

Most of our youth, however, was spent on the tennis courts at Pierremont Oaks putting in endless hours of practice and then traveling to tournaments all over Louisiana (and beyond). Through tennis, we made – and have maintained – many valuable friendships.

One of those friendships was the impetus for this recent adventure.

The purpose of the road trip was to attend the Louisiana Tennis Association Hall of Fame Banquet at Bocage Racquet Club in Baton Rouge to see the induction of Lauren Cotter Wilson.

As soon as Lillian picked me up, we headed for Herby-K’s – where we enjoyed a delicious lunch that included marinated crab claws, a Baby Shrimp Buster, and a catfish platter. Lillian hasn’t lived here since she left all those years ago to play tennis at The University of Oklahoma, so lunch at the famous Shreveport restaurant was like a trip back in time.

“I can’t remember the last time I ate here,” she said.

Other than sporadic visits, Lillian doesn’t get to her hometown very often. The last time I saw her was in the spring when she came to play in the “Love for Lancey” tournament at Pierremont Oaks – a fundraiser to help defray the health care costs of Lance Dreyer.

It’s interesting – and bittersweet — how things happen: the “Love for Lancey” tournament would receive the LTA award that evening for Special Tennis Event of the Year. Three days later, Dreyer passed away after his battle with Alzheimer’s.

Serving as emcee for the banquet – and introducing Wilson for the Hall of Fame – was Jerry Montgomery, who coached all three of us in junior tennis.

Lillian and I would reminisce during the trip – talking about certain tennis tournaments and trying to recall all the people from junior development – but first we had to catch up. Lillian and Steve, who met at OU, have been married almost 40 years. After living in Midland, Texas, for 15 years and raising their three children, they moved to Fort Worth.

Catherine, the oldest, lives just outside Fort Worth with her husband Dan and their three kids; Steven and wife have one child and live in Dallas; and Julia lives in Houston with her husband Travis.

While I haven’t picked up a tennis racket in years, Lillian still plays “better now than I ever have” and teaches the game. (After this trip, I think I’ve almost got her talked into taking up golf.)

As soon as we got caught up on the present, we spent the rest of the drive talking about the past and bringing up as many names as we could from the old tennis days: Chris Harbuck, Lacy Williams, Lianne Berry, Doodle and Mary Boggs, Robert Dunkelman, Mary Arnie, Julia Sippel and Jean Hundley, Stephanie Fess, Susu Palmer, Kathryn and Terese Boustany, Kate McCall, Carol Boston, Kay McDaniel, Reese and Robin Baker, all the Harrisons, Grady Wilson, Jose Lambert, Gordon Traylor, Linda and Jennifer Tuero . . . so many I can’t think of them all.

We talked about the many trips we took to play in tournaments, some where we stayed in hotels and some where we were housed with families in certain towns. While listening to the songs on a playlist Lillian had made of our favorite songs, we laughed until we cried.

We got to Baton Rouge, checked into the hotel and headed for Bocage Racquet Club – where we had played many years ago.

When Lillian and I started the trip back to Shreveport, we thought it would be fun to go back the way we did before there was an I-49 – a drive on Highway 71 that would take us through all the small towns we remembered lo those many years ago.

A drive that would take us to another “Lunch” from the past.

Things started looking familiar as we approached Lecompte and found Lea’s Lunchroom – where we used to pass (and stop to eat) on every trip to south Louisiana tournaments.

There used to be a bound book with yellow-stained pages on a table by the door where visitors would sign their names and put their addresses. In its place is a newer paper-bound book so we stopped and signed in before taking our place in a booth by the front window.

The ham sandwiches tasted just like they used to and the pie was, as always, incredible. For the rest of the drive home, we talked about how much fun the trip was and how we should see each other more often.

Lillian dropped me off at my house and headed back to Fort Worth. Unfortunately, we don’t live next door to each other like we thought we would. We don’t have that white picket fence.

But we do have some incredible memories.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

MEMORY LANE: A trip to south Louisiana wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Lea’s Lunchroom in Lecompte.