Soul Food For Everyone

Jon Corzine, Chris Christie and Chris Daggett CBS/AP

From time to time, CBS Correspondent Steve Hartman uses the random toss of a dart and a map of the United States to guide him in his quest to prove that "Everybody Has A Story." In Camden, S.C., Suzanne Lee told hers, back in 1999. Hartman recently revisited her to check how she was doing.


"They call me Miss Lee, Mama Lee, Susie Lee," she says.

Lee is 68 and has the hair to show for it. Although there's really nothing gray about her. "I'm a sunny person," she admits.

She lives in a bright yellow house, where she and her husband Monroe raised four equally bright children. As she puts it, "I meant what I said, and I said I wasn't going to have any dummies in my house."

Thanks to that subtle prompting, all of her kids graduated from college. To help pay tuition, Lee spent 28 years managing the local cafeteria, retiring in 1991. But she admits, "I never got it out of my system."

Today, her den is full of fold-up tables that never fold and guests that never seem to leave. Does she ever think about charging? "Naw. Everyone is coming!" she exclaims.

She has an insatiable need to feed, and has three refrigerators full of food, "'cause you never know who's coming by. Hello, everyone!"

She feeds her friends. She feeds her former co-workers. She even feeds the man who owns the local diner. And it can be like this a couple times a week.

"I invite the whole congregation," Lee says.

Everybody in church comes over for dinner, she says, adding, "We don't have but 70 members."

Lee obviously has a gift for giving. When asked where she got that, she says to really know what Miss Suzanne Lee was all about, take her home to Horatio, S.C.

Her entire family history fits right in that tiny little town. It's where her father, the son of a former slave, bought the family's very first piece of land, a 100-acre tract that Lee still proudly owns.

Somebody wanted to buy it from her, but she says, "I told him the breeze and the leaves and the birds and the butterfly was worth more than he was offering me for that property."

And even though she needs this property like she needs another frozen rump roast, Lee plans to keep that land forever, as a symbol of the struggle that provided all this bounty.

It's been five years since Hartman first told her story

Lee says, "For the past five years, I have cooked and cooked and cooked again."

She says partly because her church has grown, and partly, because she added a kid's table, dinners now are bigger than ever.

Lee says, "We'd rather have too much than not enough."

She's got Monroe peeling 35 pounds of potatoes, the hard way.

She says, "He's peeling them and I'm cubing them."

And this is just the beginning.

She says, "The menu for the day is: barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, fried chicken… and a squash casserole...."

Cracker Barrel has a smaller menu. Cracker Barrel doesn't have this many options.

"And we'd love to have you over for dinner," she continues.

That is you and a guest army. She now serves up to 100 people per sitting. And still all she asks is that you come hungry -check your Atkins diet at the door and keep the line moving.

Unfortunately, here's where Hartman's story ends. Not because there isn't more to see - but because Lee insisted the cameraman, Les Rose, sit down and eat.

Lee says, "Tell Les come on - he's hard-headed, come get some food."
  • Tatiana Morales

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