Straight up nice: Friends come together to celebrate Troy Lindsey’s birthday

Published 9:59 pm Sunday, June 9, 2024

Troy Lindsey is a top shelf kind of guy. Kind, quiet, unassuming, and always willing to help out, which is how he found himself bartending when he was just a teen.

Nearly 60 years later, Troy has continued to bartend — part time — after he began working for Fordice Construction Company in the 1970s. But on March 15, the tables were turned for Troy. Instead of him pouring drinks for others, he was honored with a surprise party at the Duff Green Mansion where friends and family raised their glasses in honor of his 75th birthday.

Troy’s bartending days began at the Old Southern Tea Room, a renowned restaurant that was located in downtown Vicksburg.

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It had been the early 60’s, Troy said, when he moved to the River City. Being new to town, he wasn’t working. So, when a fella asked him if he would be interested in helping clean up the Tea Room after the customers left for the night, Troy said yes.

Troy continued helping at night for a week, he said, but the following week he was approached by the owner of the restaurant, Warren Asher.

“The dishwasher had not come to work,” Troy said, “So he asked me, ‘Do you want to work on the day?’ So I said, ‘Well I don’t mind.’”

And dish washing he did.

“I probably washed dishes from 6 that morning until 11:30 (a.m.)  and I thought to myself, what kind of place is this with all these dishes?” Troy said.

The dish washing resumed after a 30-minute break, he said, “And then you would go back at 12 (p.m.) washing dishes again.”

When a bus boy didn’t show up for work, Troy laid down his dish rag and began bussing tables. Like his prior two jobs at the restaurant, when the bartender didn’t show — you guessed it — he was asked to bartend.

“Mr. Asher was having a party upstairs, the place (Tea Room) had two sections, so he said, ‘The bartender didn’t show up, so you go up there and mix drinks.’ And I thought to myself, I don’t know how to mix drinks.”

Asher assured Troy the guests at the party would tell him what they wanted.

“And that’s how I first started mixing drinks from there (Old Southern Tea Room),” he said.

Troy wouldn’t admit to how old he was when he served his first drink — he wasn’t legal he said — but legend has it that he was 14 or 15 years old.

Troy graduated from Temple High School, and he then attended Utica Junior College and Alcorn State University.

He met his wife, Velma, while working at the Old Southern Tea Room. Velma said she wasn’t interested in Troy initially, but that didn’t keep him from trying to get her attention.

“She was a waitress, and I would help her with her table,” Troy said, which included making sure she didn’t get stiffed out of her tips.

“We had one of those bus boys who would steal your tips,” Velma said. “So, Troy would put all my tips in his pocket and all the other girls’ tips, and at the end of the shift he would give everybody their tips back.”

And because he was looking out for them, all the waitresses would give Troy a tip, but not Velma.

“They would tell me, ‘Give him a tip. You have to tip him.’ I told them, ‘Oh, no, I work for that,’ and I would never tip him,” she said. “They were always tipping, but I wouldn’t tip him.”

Velma said she and Troy began dating in high school and have now been married for 51 years.

Troy started at Fordice Construction Company in the mid-1970s and retired from his full-time position at the company after working for five generations of the family.

“Troy was a dedicated worker,” owner Dan Fordice said. “He has worked on the mat field for us forever. And it’s a challenging environment and he does real well with his people. It’s a big crew.”

Velma recalled how the Fordice family had always been kind to she and Troy.

When Troy was in the hospital for surgery, First Lady Pat Fordice had called, Velma said, to check in on Troy.


After his beginnings at the Old Southern Tea Room, Troy began bartending at the Rivertown Club, a private club initiated by Alex Brunini.

“He (Brunini) developed a club at the top of the Downtowner and that’s when I met a lot of people,” Troy said.

The Rivertown Club was housed on the upper level of The Downtowner Motor Inn, which was located at 1315 Walnut St. The Old Southern Tea Room, Troy said, was also located at the Downtowner. It was housed on the lower level of the hotel and provided all the food for the private club.

Both the private club and Tea Room were popular spots for locals. That gave Troy the opportunity to meet a lot of people, which is one of the reasons he said he still enjoys bartending.

“And you learn a little of what goes on in Vicksburg,” he said.

Troy said he wasn’t willing to tell all, but he did share the ingredients to a signature cocktail the ladies liked.

“When I worked at the Rivertown Club we came up with a drink called the Delta Velvet,” Troy said. “It’s vanilla ice cream and crème de coca light and dark, and then you put it in a blender and mix it up. But what I would do is put a little amaretto on top and it would make it real good. The ladies around Vicksburg like it.”

Troy’s bartending days have continued. He said he will work a couple of weekends in a month, but it isn’t like it used to be. Locals are just not hosting as many formal affairs.

Velma said she thinks COVID played some role in the slowdown. But when the River City was in it’s party prime, Troy said, he knew just what to pour.

“I used to know just about what every person drank around Vicksburg,” he said.

Being a part-time bartender has kept Troy busy. Velma said if he had a party, he would come running in from work at 5 p.m., take a bath and grab a shirt.

“And he would come back he would go to sleep, so we didn’t have any talk time,” she said.

But Velma devised a way, she said, to make up for Troy being away from her.

“So, when this happens, he has to give me half of his whatever he gets paid for bartending,” she said.

Troy laughed as Velma divulged their business agreement.

75th birthday party

The Duff Green Mansion was nearly wall to wall with partygoers, all there to wish Troy a happy birthday. The ruse to get him to his own party was naturally to hire him out as a bartender.

“I was really shocked. I never thought anybody was going to give me a party,” Troy said. “I also couldn’t believe they had kept it a secret in Vicksburg.”

Paul Ingram was instrumental in setting the celebration in motion.

“I conceived of this after running into Troy at the house I grew up in, now owned by William Furlong and Cody McElwain,” Ingram said. Troy had bartended there for my parents when I was in high school. I’m 70 now,” he said.

Ingram said the response he received in wanting to honor Troy was “universal excitement.”

“Many Vicksburgers who have known Troy for decades were anxious to co-host. Harley (Caldwell) made Duff Green available, and William (Furlong) agreed to do the food,” he said.

Nathan Fordice helped get the word out to Troy’s co-workers at Fordice Construction about the party and Arvell Bunch provided Ingram with phone numbers for his old food and beverage co-workers.

Fordice also found out some of Troy’s favorites, which included fried fish and German Chocolate Cake, which Gary Thomas with Goldie’s Express and Chris Rutherford at Walnut Hills provided, respectively.

Balloon decorations were provided by Debbie Peacock with Big Fun Balloons, and Jeri Landers kept a great bar, Ingram said.

“There was a lot of positive energy at the party,” Ingram said. “The only thing that would have made it better would have been if we had open mic night to tell Troy stories because they’re a lot of them.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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