Friday, December 6, 2013

Another Blast From My Past

So I was in the restroom at work tonight and turned around to see the wife of a guy I worked for back in the eighties for fourteen years at a little pizza joint called Johnny's Pizza.  When I started with them they had two tiny stores in metro Atlanta, they now have stores in eight states.

When I started working for them they were located in a small strip mall. Next door was the original Starship, another blast from the past. Back then we just called it a Head Shop but had the coolest tee shirts, all kinds of trinkets and great posters too.
 Johnny's was on the end of  the strip, Starship was next, then a printing company. Next  to that was a locksmith then on the other end a tailor shop. I remember it like it was yesterday.

My former boss was in tonight with his wife and their daughter, who I haven't seen in over seventeen years. She looked exactly the same, if I had run into her on the street  would have immediately known who she was.

Oh, the eighties! I had a good run with Johnny's. I grew up while working there and developed the work ethic I still have today from working for Scott. (although everyone who didn't know him always called him Johnny)

I actually met my husband there. He used  to come in after work with his buddies for pizza and beer. It was a local watering hole and neighborhood hangout for the locals and airport workers. There was an older black guy we called Shine...he shined shoes at  the airport and liked his chilled Burgundy  wine in a paper cup. This was back when they had Sky Caps at Hartsfield, usually always black men who helped  you unload your luggage at  the curb (for a tip) way back when you could park curbside to unload before a flight.

They all came into Johnny's to eat or drink. Ramp workers, sky caps, shoe shiners, flight attendants, even leads and management. We were right down  the street from the Eastern hangar. It was a cool place to work and an even cooler place to hang out. It was housed in an old Huddle House. It had maybe ten swivel stools at  the counter and six booths. They built three longer booths at  the back of the store for larger parties. There was a group of guys from Ethiopia who played soccer together and came in regularly after games and always drained the Heineken supply... dang  those men could drink.

It was a laid back place to work without many rules. One guy used to come in to eat and drink with his buddies, sit at one of the back long booths and bring his pet hawk on his arm covered with a thick heavy leather glove. You don't see THAT every day.

Back in the eighties professional wrestling was getting big again. The gas station next door to us and across the bridge let wrestler's park their cars in their lots when they flew out to other cities for a match. I waited on Andre the Giant many times, he was a freak of nature but a nice enough guy. Rick Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and even The Assassins (I and II) came in.

The great  thing  about Johnny's was it was a neighborhood pizzeria . I am still FB friends with many many peeps who used to frequent the store. My own Diddy used to come in with his church buds every week after visitation for a sub or pizza.

It was an unpretentious and all welcoming place  to be and work. The Ethiopian dudes used to sideline as parking attendants at  The Omni and got us many free  tickets  to shows. To name a few, Bob Seger, Cyndi Lauper,  and Eddie  Money. Yep it was the eighties and they were some hot groups to see.

Don't get me started about Spondivit's, the bar that opened next  door to the the gas station that "Spencer" owned. I feel like I lived my own Woodstock when I look back on it.

I miss those days.

It was great seeing my old boss again. He was always a stand up guy  and taught me how to be a grownup at the age of twenty two. He was my first mentor.

Came home tonight and thought about how wonderful those times were. We were children of the eighties  and lived life on the edge but somehow, someway survived to tell the story.

Life seems to go in cycles  and tonight I cycled back to 1982.

Johnny's Pizza at 1241 Virginia Ave was a great place to be. Ask any airport worker or resident of East Point, College Park or Hapeville.

And to think I've LIVED to tell the story!

Til next time...COTTON

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