Jeff Turner, a member of GFW Writers, is a IP project manager and this little story is from one of his upcoming books on memories of his children's childhood.
By Jeff Turner
How many kids have asked the proprietor of a pizza place to autograph a pizza box for them? My son, Roger, did one day atCharlie’s Pizza.
Charlie’s Pizza was a neighborhood institution on the east side of Fort Worth where we once lived. For over 30 years Charlie and his family owned the restaurant and produced New York style pizza for Texans obsessed with BBQ and Mexican food. His pizza was always delicious, topped with fresh ingredients and a good thin crust. We ate there frequently as did many others who lived on that side of town. In fact, one year Charlie’s pizza was voted as “best pizza” in Fort Worth.
Over time, Roger was old enough to realize what Charlie’s Pizza was and asked for it. He also knew Charlie and his excitement was evident when we announced we were eating there. He always ate his share of each pizza pie. Like us, it was one of his favorite eating places and remained so over the years.
However, the most memorable experience was the time Roger decided he wanted Charlie to autograph one of the pizza boxes. Roger was very insistent about this, so one day I asked Charlie to sign a box containing a large pizza we’d ordered. Charlie looked at me a little funny and I explained why I was doing this. He cracked a real big smile, whipped out a pen, and ascribed his John Henry on the top of the box. I took the pie home in its box and presented it to Roger. The look on Roger’s face was that of an adoring fan. He loved that box and kept it, sauce stains and all, in his closet for years. It was a valued treasure in his little boy eyes even though it started as a plain pizza box.
Over the years, the box disappeared in house moves, but the act was not forgotten. A couple of years ago, I was in the restaurant and Charlie, now grey headed, was behind the counter making pies. As I paid for my order, I saw the stacks of empty pizza boxes behind him and asked if he remembered signing a pizza box years ago. He paused briefly and, with a big grin on his face, and said he did recall doing that. I refreshed his memory about how happy it made my son. He laughed and said no one had ever asked him to autograph a box as long as he had been in business. Sadly, he has sold his restaurant.
So a plain, ordinary pizza box, just one of billions like it, was signed and treasured by Roger like an autograph penned by a famous movie star or athlete. That small act of kindness by Charlie Langdon shows that the star on life’s stage is not always someone well known and famous, but instead can be a person who rises above average when he makes a difference in someone’s life. Charlie was an average person who became very important in the big, bright eyes of a little boy who liked his pizza.