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TO RECOGNIZE AND COMMEND THE LIFE AND WORK OF SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVE SYLVIA WOODS, AND TO CONGRATULATE HER ON HER INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS THAT GREW FROM THE COURAGEOUS AND HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF THE NOW FAMOUS SYLVIA'S RESTAURANT IN HARLEM, NEW YORK.
Whereas, born in Hemingway, South Carolina, in 1926, Sylvia Woods learned early from her mother and grandmother, the two widows who raised her, the importance of preparing and offering savory meals; and
Whereas, she met Herbert Woods, her childhood sweetheart, who attended the same church and school as she did, when she was eleven years old and they were both working in the bean fields of South Carolina; and
Whereas, he became her beloved husband when they married in 1944, and they enjoyed some sixty years of marriage before his death. In 1946, they moved to New York City, where they raised a close-knit family of four children in their five-room apartment that also became a temporary home to many relatives desiring to move to the Big Apple; and
Whereas, Sylvia worked as a waitress in a café know as Johnson's Lunch until the owner relocated and she operated it herself, until Sylvia finally made a daring move: she borrowed money from her mother, who mortgaged the South Carolina farm, so that she could buy the small establishment of six stools and four booths; and
Whereas, a year later in 1963, she renamed the café to "Sylvia's," and five years later her success enabled her to move to its present location; however, her perseverance had yet to pay the large dividends that she would realize eventually; and
Whereas, in 1979, famous food critic Gael Greene entered the tiny restaurant in Harlem and emerged to write a rave review of Sylvia's Southern "soul food" in New York magazine, and since then the New York Times has described her as "the Queen of Soul Food," and the restaurant has become internationally known; and
Whereas, the growing publicity coupled with the aggressive leadership of Sylvia's oldest son, Van Woods, enabled the restaurant to expand in the early 1980s until it consumed the entire city block, now seating four hundred fifty people and including a banquet hall and a jazz and blues club; and
Whereas, in 1992, Van launched a line of nationally distributed products known as Sylvia's Soulfood, among which are her world famous sauces, preseasoned vegetables, spices, syrup, cornbread, and pancake mixes, and in the same year William Morrow Company published the first of her two cookbooks; and
Whereas, a children's book about Sylvia called Growing Up Sylvia was written by Brenda Woods and was published in 2000. Recently, the family launched a line of hair and skin care products under two brand names; and
Whereas, her four children and eighteen grandchildren have all worked in the restaurant and continue to frequent the family table where Sylvia still dishes up healthy portions of family advice to them about the secrets to success: love of God, love of family, love of friends, love of customers, and love of work; and
Whereas, in these words and in her life, she has taught her family what the wise king of Israel rightly stated in Proverbs 13:11, "He that gathereth by labour shall increase"; and
Whereas, her homemade food, based on the recipes of her mother and grandmother, have showcased her love of cooking and have given an international popularity to Southern cuisine, which caused Orangeburg County to set aside December 22, 2007, as Sylvia Woods Day. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:
That the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, recognize and commend the life and work of South Carolina native Sylvia Woods, and congratulate her on her international success that grew from the courageous and humble beginnings of the now famous Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem, New York.
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Sylvia Woods.
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