SAVANNAH -- The line went down the block Thursday at a book signing that provided Paula Deen's first public appearance in Savannah since late June after she admitted in a legal deposition to using a racial slur nearly three decades ago.
It was Jamie Deen’s first solo book signing at The Lady and Sons Restaurant, and the line wrapped around the block Thursday.
Eager folks with books in hand were ready to get their copies of “Jamie Deen’s Good Food” signed and hoping to get a glimpse of Paula Deen who played hostess for her son’s book-launch party.
The event marked Paula’s first publicized public appearance in Savannah since late June after she admitted in a legal deposition to using a racial slur nearly three decades ago.
Faithful fans were already lining up at 10 a.m. for the book signing that began at one o’clock.
Rayma Staser and her friend Judy Godfrey, from Seymour, Tenn., were standing in line near Barnard Street, hoping to get a book signed by the celebrity chef.
“We came down from Hilton Head for the day to eat lunch and got a nice surprise,” Staser said. The duo had not heard the news of Paula’s appearance until that morning.
“We’ve always been fans of Paula,” Staser said. “The news people shouldn’t have done that to her. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and this whole thing got out of hand.”
Godfrey shook her head in agreement.
“I want to tell Paula to keep on carrying on,” she said. “If she just keeps doing what she’s always done, then she’ll be great.”
The positive vibes continued to move down the line as strangers became what they called “line friends.”
Carol Calvert of Guyton said, “I like the Deen family, and I admire Paula.”
She got an “amen” from the watching crowd.
Her new line friends Don and Lynne Daniels, from Pittsburgh, agreed with Calvert’s statement.
The couple was vacationing in nearby Hilton Head, and Don said he agreed to give up a day of golf to bring his wife down to see Paula.
“It’s not my thing, but it’s important to her, so I brought her down,” he said, taking a break from reading his magazine.
A little before 1 p.m., the crowd began looking around anxiously, waiting for Paula to arrive.
Jamie came outside to greet the crowd and pose for pictures with fans on the sidewalk.
“Oh my goodness, you’re so handsome,” said one excited fan. Jamie laughed and gave her a hug.
Attention quickly turned to the street as a white Cadillac Escalade pulled up, and the crowd broke into screams and applause when the dark tinted windows rolled down to reveal Paula Deen in a back seat.
“Hey y’all,” Paula yelled after she exited the vehicle with husband Michael Groover. The celebrity chef didn’t pause long to pose for photos or talk but headed inside for the book signing.
Jamie followed her lead.
“I better get to signing books and get all these nice people who have been standing in line all morning out of the heat,” he said.
“She looks great,” said Gail Pyontek, from Houston. “I missed her when she was in Houston, and I was so bummed. I was in the store buying a souvenir for my daughter when I heard the noise and stepped out and saw Jamie.
"I got my photo with him. He’s real nice. I’m just so glad Paula’s better.”