I'm standing where some Shell gas pumps once stood.
The famous photographer Edward Weston shot this photo of Mammy's in 1941, one year after she was built. You can see her original skin color was much darker and the Shell gas pumps that were out front. You can buy this and more great Weston photos from this website.
There are eccentric roadside attractions, and then there are "Oh my God, I can't believe I'm seeing what I'm seeing" eccentric roadside attractions. Mammy's Cupboard of Natchez, Mississippi fits squarely in the latter category...so much so that I believe from now on I'll be saying "well, sure, it was eccentric, but it was no Mammy's Cupboard." As a life-long fan of programmic archetecture, those cartoonish roadside buildings and sculptures constructed in the forms of characters, animals and household objects, I've loved visiting buildings in the shapes of giant elephants, picnic baskets and donuts. But never in my wildest eccentric fever dreams did I imagine I'd be in the presence of a 70-year old, 28-foot racial stereotype. When it was built in 1940, Mammy's was a gas station and the deep south was a lot different than it is today. Over the years, she's served as a few different businesses, and since the 90s she's been a cafe, serving southern specialties to locals and tourists. The very fact that she still stands today boggles the mind. A mammy? Really? Somewhere along the way, her original dark skin color got painted a lighter, peachier hue. Her bandana, earrings and folk art facial features have stayed the same, though, giving her the look of a giant Art Clokey-Gumby character. The place gets good reviews as an eatery (I didn't get to eat there), and many of the locals have fond memories of Mammy from their childhoods. They've got a Facebook page, and one fellow commented that Mammy's was even a polling place! And while I was knocked out by the shear, unbelievable-on-many-levels audacity of the place, I have to admit I felt queasily guilty for enjoying what could easily be considered an ethnic slur.