The Russell H. Leonard Memorial Cafeteria

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          The Russell H. Leonard Memorial Cafeteria
located at the Pepperell (Alabama) Division of the Pepperell Manufacturing Company  was a modern efficiently equipped Cafeteria, built and operated for the convenience of the Pepperell employees and their families. - It was a favorite eating place for two decades and was also used for banquets for the Opelika and Peperell schools during the 1940's and 1950's. It was closed to the public in the early 1960's. 


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Serving line at the Pepperell Cafeteria - c. 1954
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Photo provided by Barbara Clark Koester Class of '55

Cafeteria employees in the picture are L to R - Sara Fields Simpkins, Nola B. Sweatman, Velma Van Patten, Herman Koester, Food Service Director, Clarence Koester, District Manager for Slater Food Service and  Leta 'Smitty' Smitherman, Assistant Director.

Slater Food Service came to Pepperell on September 7, 1954 to manage the food service at the cafeteria.  Miss White who was the previous Director retired at this time and the food service took over the management of the cafeteria until the cafeteria closed in 1961.  At that time Coca Cola, managed by Lewis Cooper was awarded the vending service contract to provide the mill workers with a cart service in the mill.  Herman Koester stayed to set up and manage the vending operation for six months.  He returned to Slater Food Service in February, 1961.  Mr. Cooper continued to run the vending service for a number of years.  The cafeteria was opened sometime during the 1940's and was in operation until the early 1960's.  - This information and picture was furnished by Barbara Clark Koester.....a resident in the village at the time.

Note:  When Herman Koester came to Pepperell to manage the cafeteria Barbara Clark was a senior at Clift High School.  When she finished high school she and Herman dated and later married.  Herman and Barbara Clark Koester have been married 56 years. - August 2011

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Notice the bronze plaque hanging on the wall.  This is the one currently displayed outside the East Alabama Museum in Opelika honoring those who lived in Pepperell and served in World War II