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(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Spice of Life: Borden’s Lady still serving up smiles to all she meets

Last Modified: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 6:44 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Lots of laughs and memories fill Jesse Doolan’s home on Kirkman Street.

The 91-year-old, affectionately known as the “Borden’s Lady,” is not shy about talking about her career.

For two decades she served ice cream, shakes, floats, and all other things good and sweet at the Borden’s Creamery that was located at the corner of Ryan and Park streets until it closed in 1985.

“Well, we had fun with people who would come in and make us laugh. I made sure to smile and treat everyone right,” she said.

Doolan is living a dream not many residents get to experience. Last weekend, her birthday was celebrated with a twist.

Local officials and friends surprised her at Piccadilly Cafeteria at the Prien Lake Mall and showered her with affection.

Ward 3 City Marshal Joey Alcede gave Doolan a plaque that read “In appreciation for the many smiles put on thousands of faces, both young and old.”

The mayor’s office designated her birthday as “Jessie Doolan Day.”

Her daughter, Jessie Koonce, said her mother was taken aback by the special treatment.

While telling me about her work life, Doolan traveled back in her memory and explained that service was her specialty.

“Everybody is equal. A lot of people would come in and they always wanted me to wait on them,” she said. “It gives you a good feeling that people recognize you. They know I was good to them.”

The pomp and circumstance displayed for Doolan is not the only time she has been acknowledged.

On a trip to England, while standing near Stonehenge, some young women approached Doolan and exclaimed “you’re the Borden’s Lady,” Koonce said.

Meanwhile, on a trip to San Antonio, Doolan was walking with a group when U.S. Senator John McCain approached.

“He talked to my mom. Some kind of way he remembered her from Borden’s,” Koonce said.

As she listens to the stories, Doolan laughs with joy.

She also giggles about the notion that many former customers are interested in her present condition.

“Oh, they call every now and then and want to know if I’m still living,” she said.

Once the obvious concerns are addressed, the customers move on to their own childhood memories about her.

“A lot of them come up to her and tell her they miss her malts and shakes,” Koonce said.

As I walk out of Doolan’s home she tells me something that makes my mouth water, too.

“I’m going to get a machine and make some shakes the next time you come,” she said.

If she does or does not, its OK, because I know she means it and wants to make me happy like all the other folks she served.

• • •

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

Posted By: Anna On: 4/24/2013

Title: The Southern Boudin Trail

Boy you have brought back fond memories! I used to work at Papania's when I was 19. I remember Eddie the bar tend. Elsie and John and the crasy dish washer lol! And that poor dude I spilled spaghetti sauce on in the white suit. Thought he'd eat me alive hhahhaha. Of course Frank and Louise and their little boy. And Lucas and his roosters. It was great food and a fantastic place to work in those days. Then I worked for Paw Paw's for a spell. Those were great ol days!
Thanks for reminding me.

Posted By: Elaine Mason On: 4/10/2013

Title: Awesome Lady

I remember many chocolate malts there. We lived behind Bordens and it was always a good time to go get something sweet. Ms Doolan was always smiling and making us smile too.

Posted By: Keith On: 4/10/2013

Title: A great story

I haven't lived in Lake Charles for 40 years, but I still recall this lady and the other Borden's ladies. She was a treasure then and still is today. Good to see her getting the recognition she deserves.

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