Remember Pizza-Aroma? The Bible book store? Corner of Second street and Adams.
I grew up at 531 second street. Pizza-aroma was 3 houses down from us. On the left hand side the Hoffman’s lived there. Royalty and by my standards, super duper rich. John Stanley Sr. and his wife were very nice people. On our right side of our house lived Frank and Trixie. Frank the mean mafia guy and Trixie LaMae the Vegas dancer and Actress. All in their old age by the time the 70’s had rolled around. Trixie’s mom had fallen in the snow covered street during the blizzard of 77’/78′. Buzz went out and picked her up out of the street. She died right after that. Not sure the fall killed her but she was a frail tiny old woman..
I remember my brother and I had the occasionally excitement of hearing Pops say “you want a Pea’za” tonite? He never pronounced it right. We thought us little boys were big time when got to use the telephone to call it in. We rarely were allowed to use the phone. Kids in grade school these days have cellphones. Go figure…Times sure have changed. Back then we really thought we were doing something when we got to run down to the corner in the dark all by ourselves to pick it up! I know in this “modern” fast paced world two little boys in the mid 70’s getting to run down to the corner to pick up a pizza means nothing. I remember David hollering hurry and we would run as fast as we could. We would swing open that door that had swinging bells on it, run up to the counter, put the money up there and then take turns carrying the paper wrapped pizza home. But to me, its a great memory of the little corner restaurant. Times were different. Years later I would help Jack Fambrough wire up ceiling fans in that building for the Bible bookstore but lets reminiscence..
My neighborhood, or should I say the neighborhood that I grew up in. I didn’t own the block. The block I spent most of my time growing up on. First on the 2nd street side and years later the 3rd street side of the same block. Pizza-aroma was the place to meet. We caught the bus there on the corner. The bus driver was a pretty cool to us. We would be the first kids she picked up. We could drink cokes on the bus and sit in the back and smoke cigarettes if we opened the bus windows. She didn’t mind. I also remember the bus being cold as hell in the winter time. It took forever for the old bus heaters to warm it up. As we got older and went to County most times we would walk to school. We got to cool for buses by then. Like every other kid of that age for all ages, we all had the world by the balls but never knew it.
Some of the memories I have surrounding that building I would like to share.
One of the earliest memories I have is of Joe Coffee. He was an elderly man that lived in the neighborhood. He used to walk all the time. I remember coming home from school one day and being told someone had beaten up and robbed nice “ole Joe’ right there by the pizza building. I think I remember seeing him maybe once after that but maybe I didn’t. But I can’t believe someone would rob an old man but they did. I have always heard if you mention someone’s name that has long since died then they aren’t’ forgotten and they get a smile on their face in Heaven. Well Joe, its been a good 45 years or so but I haven’t forgotten you.
Another thing Pizza Aroma did for awhile. They had a lunch buffet. Man summertime! We would burn that pizza up! Seems it was $2.15 or #$2.75 for all you could eat. We were young and could put away the pizza! I remember eating there several times with the other neighborhood kids. They used to have a TV on the self in the right hand corner of the counter. It was the first time I saw on the news the now iconic footage of the Vietcong murder in the street. I know it was several years old by the time I saw it in the Pizza-aroma but it shocked me and it still stays with me. My Uncle was in Vietnam but the war for the most part was hidden to us. A world away and by the time I was made aware if it, over. Saigon had fell.
I loved art. I took art in school every year it was available to me. It didn’t mean I was any good at it but I sure enjoyed it. Now bare with me as I jump around in time…Around 1981 we had moved from 805 Second street to 536 3rd street. Same block we started on. By this time the Pizza place was gone and a new book store was coming in. I remember seeing someone painting a mural on the side of the building. I walked down there and struck up a conversation and watched the artist as he worked his magic. I had no idea who the artist was or what he was painting. I do believe he was wearing red clothes though and was kind of eccentric..lol. When he had finished, it was a Shepherd with sheep. Years later I would become friends with him at church. He was still a little artsy and eccentric but a very talented great guy.
I got to know the owners of the Pizza Aroma fairly well. I used to get to go down there and hang out. I couldn’t have been no more than 10 or 11 years old. They let me answer the phone and occasionally help make a pizza. It was my first time ever seeing anchovies. They smelled really bad and were hairy. I also got hired to cut the yard around back. It wasn’t a very big area. The house next door had a huge mulberry tree that hung over on the property but more about the tree later. The owner (I think his name was Chris) would pay me two dollars to mow the back yard and rake the leaves. Not bad money for the time it took. It didn’t take 30 minutes or so to do it. I remember him showing me how to rake leaves because I had no clue on how rake them.
In behind the Pizza-aroma was a block storage building. It used to have a fire place in it. Pizza-aroma and the Bible book store stored their extra supplies and other stuff in there. Every time I was in it was just piled up with junk. We had bad storm one year while the Pizza Aroma was still there and the chimney blew off the roof of that building. I remember watching a guy tearing the rest of it down. Once again, naive kid here. Maybe 10 years old. Well, the guy had a large stack of bricks piled up around by where he had torn the rest of chimney down. He said he was going to lunch and if I wanted to make some money I could carry the bricks around to the curb while he was gone. He said he would pay me a penny a brick. So I said I would do it. He left and I started carrying the old red bricks around to the curb. Funny how after all this time I can still remember this but I do. I carried right at 700 bricks around to the curb. I thought I had did a good job and thought that the guy would like it and I would make 7 dollars. It took a couple of hours for me to carry all those brick… The guy showed back up, after I was finished. He asked me how many brick were there. I said 700. He said “No way, there might be 200 brick there” and with that he didn’t hand me my money, he threw 2 dollars on the ground and walked off. The guy, I don’t know who you are but you are still an asshole to me…after all these years. You are an “ASSHOLE”.
OK, good memory visit this time. Once again time jumping. The house next door to the building, an older lady lived there. My friend Jack Fambrough was in to “blessing people”. He had a good heart. He may go to Purples Pool hall and run the pool tables on you but he would tell you about Jesus in the process of taking your money from you. He was really good at playing pool. He was a pool shark… But anyway, back to this old lady. She lived by herself and owned that stucco sided house next door to Pizza-aroma. It was a shot gun style house with a nice porch and that mulberry tree I am still waiting to bring up later. Anyway, I might have been 18 or so at the time. Jack was always coming around. He played guitar and always wanted me to play here or there etc. So he had told this old lady he would paint her house for 300 bucks. The entire house outside. Come to think it about, it might have been for just 100 bucks. I am really leaning toward the 100 bucks, he may read this and confirm. So I was roped into helping him. By this time I was trying to write music, record etc to mark my place in this big world. My friend Dennis Duncan was a drummer turned singer and he wasn’t doing anything so we got together on a project. We called it “Deception”. Dennis used to come over while I was painting that house and he would sit in the grass with a notebook and we would bounce song ideas off each other as I painted away. We eventually recorded 3 of them at Wasson Studies in Boonville and released a 3 song Cassette tape. The songs were called “Party in 204”, “Holding on Tight”, and one more that currently escapes me. We shot the photos for the cover at Purples Pool Hall.
Our block was bustling with kids. We were fortunately to have many friends that lived within the 2 block radius. There were enough of us all around the same age that we would play football and basketball together. We attended scout meetings together. Road motorcycles in the trails by the railroad tracks. It was a good time to be alive. We used to play “S.W.A.T.” too. That was a popular TV at the time. We would choose up sides and we all had those plastic machine guns and we would run from yard to yard in search of the “bad guys”. The front half on the block facing 2nd street, all the houses had sheds in the yard or single car garages. They were so close we could climb up on a fence and climb on top of one of the buildings and we could run and jump from building rooftop to building rooftop. I spent some nights on one of the buildings just looking up at the stars too.
Well, every neighborhood including ours will have a couple of older bullies. You know the kind. A little older and tougher guys. They seem to run in two’s.We had them. Fortunately for us they only orbited our way occasionally. They really didn’t show up much until Jr. High. They lived a few streets over so it was good for us. In fact, one of them I was either his friend one day or he was whooping my ass the next day and it all depended on what mood he was in. Once again. I was naive. I lived in a small bubble and had no idea that people were mean just for the hell of it. I snuck down to the pizza aroma one night and I peaked in the window to see who was there. There where the bad guys. They turned and saw me and I took off and ran home. The next day when I got off the bus they were waiting on me. And as usual, it was my day to get my ass kicked. One of the them said I had flipped them off. Which I didn’t do. But to these two clowns, it was just an excuse to pick on somebody. These guys did this all the time. One day I was a friend of them and the next day one of them was quoting Billy Jack, “I am going to take my right foot and put it on the left side of your face and there is nothing you can do about it”. I ran into one of these guys later on in life. He said “Do you remember me?” I said “I have both good and bad memories of you” and he said that ain’t no good. He never apologized for being a bully. I wish back then I would have fought back but in a way I am glad I didn’t. He spent most of his adult life in prison and unfortunately passed away a few years ago. I may not have liked him but you never ever gloat that you outlived someone. Someone or something made him the way he was.
The mulberry tree. That thing was huge! We used to climb up in it. I enjoyed climbing trees. We had a nice tall pear tree in our back yard. It was great for having fresh pears when they were in season. They were also good to pick and throw at each other when they were overripe or even worse when the pears where just budding out and where hard as a rock.Once during a rummage sale we where having I climbed up in the top of it and fell out of backwards onto a brick sidewalk. I might have been 8 or 9? Its OK folks, I couldn’t walk without back spasms for years but all is well. I just don’t stand up the straightest because of it. back to the mull berry tree, we used to pick the berry’s by the cup full and eat those tarty things. That is until someone told us to soak the berry’s in salt water first. When the worms crawled out of every one of them my mulberry eating days were over in an instant!
I have more stories to share but for now…it’s closing time on this one.
Always missed the old block and the friends we ran around with. Some we still keep in contact with. Lots of memories there.I miss being young and the days lasted all day long. I have watched the Catholic church over the years slowly and methodically consume like fire every house on the front side of 2nd street and all the houses on the 3rd street side on both blocks. The yards and building we hid behind and jumped across are gone. The pear tree I fell out of is now a distant memory under some asphalt. The pope needs the parking spaces I guess. It happens. Things change but the memories remain. The building is gone. I suspect in the next 50 years the church will own many parking lot blocks. Not hating on the church. Its called progress? But growing up then was a blast. My friends help make it that way.