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The Green Parrot Tea Shop

Charles E. McNair

(Dedicated to the memory of my mother, Leone B. McNair)

I would like to begin by thanking Polly Shank for helping me with dates and locations of the restaurant, since I wasn't born when my mother first opened her restaurant.

I can remember my mother saying she took a correspondence course at The Lewis Hotel & Restaurant Training School in Washington, DC. This is where she got the idea of the "The Green Parrot' and the slogan 'It Speaks for Itself". Hence, the beginning of the Green Parrot Tea Shop in Emmitsburg, MD.

Leone McNair opened her restaurant around 1930 and it was located on the square, where Houck's Clothing Store also once was located. The waitresses were Polly Shank and Ann Rodering. Some of the other ladies who worked there were Ruth Eyler, Maude Harbaugh, Pauline Baker and Lou Bushman.

Polly Shank reminisced with me about some of the regular customers like Dr. Dixon (Chief surgeon at Gettysburg Hospital) who would ask for a "cup of tea weak enough to die', or another customer who would ask for a "glass of calf's delight" when asking for a glass of milk.

Polly remembers how kindly she and the others were treated by my mother. She would let her staff eat anything they wanted. Also, she would say something like, "you must be tired, stop and rest for a while".

Around 1936, the Green Parrot was then moved from the Houck's location to across the street where the VFW building is today. I can remember during World War II the endless convoys of Army trucks that would come through Emmitsburg. There was always a road guard. If he could be relieved, my mother would ask him to come in for a meal. If he couldn't, she would send food out to him. These same soldiers would correspond with my mother when they were stationed overseas. One soldier wrote my mother and said, 'This war wouldn't be so bad if only I had a piece of your delicious apple pie".

(During World War II, butter was very hard to get. I can remember the first time I saw oleo. My mother would put it in a big bowl and mix it with yellow food coloring to make it look more like butter.)

The Green Parrot located on the square closed its doors around 1946. In 1952, Leone McNair built her new restaurant adjacent to the home place at 325 East Main Street. This was very convenient for my mother being directly across from our house, but at the same time, it never gave her a chance for a moment's rest.

People came from near and far to eat at the Green Parrot. It was well known for its homemade cakes and pies made on the premises by my mother. Where else could you get pan fried chicken, home made soups and delicious turkey salad, to just mention a few of her specialties.

Leone McNair had many regulars that ate at her restaurant, especially from Baltimore. It was not uncommon for me to run into someone that had ate at the Green Parrot when I was working in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Green Patriot Tea Room ~ 1951

My mother was a very generous person. She delivered many a meal to the sick and needy in town. Sadly, when Leone was no longer able to operate the Tea Room, she was forced to sell the building. It has changed hands several times since then, and it is now called The Harrington Repair Shop.


Do you have your own stories about the Green Parrot?
 If so, send them to us at History@emmitsburg.net