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“I have a place to go” : Independent 97 year old Veteran is a regular at local coffee shop

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:14 PM EDT
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BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A regular at the Table Coffee House in Middlesboro has a story to tell.

For Head Cook Teresa Brown, James Charles Southerland was first a stranger.

“I didn’t know him when I first started working here…but then I noticed he was in every morning and then afternoon,” she said.

It was not long before Mr. Southerland, who lives next door, made his presence known.

“He’s 97 years old. He still drives himself whenever he wants to go. He doesn’t have to come over here and eat,” she said. “I think he comes over for the company but if he doesn’t want to, he’ll stay over there and fix himself something to eat and just be as happy.”

Southerland is a World War II Veteran who was drafted to serve in the Air Force at a young age.

“I was a flight engineer…up on top of the plane. I was standing over the top of the pilot and co-pilot,” he said.

Thankful for his independence, he is also happy to find a place he feels welcome.

“Usually people … older people like myself … when they retire and get over with, they have no place to go. I have for some reason a place to go…I go here and so forth. So I’ve been here for a good purpose … a perfect time,” he said.

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