Besides my dad, the other great
I did some of my growing up in Soulard but never really knew any of the adults until I worked at the Broadway Oyster Bar.
Johnny made a point of introducing himself to me. He was a poker buddy of my dad. I really began to appreciate my dad’s cultural diversity through his poker buddies. They would range from military generals to drag queens.
My dad gave me a U.N. flag from the U.N. building he had stolen with a military buddy. I gave it to Patti Thomas’ daughter for her 16th birthday. She still has it.
Johnny was famous for roasting a whole pig in a hole they dug in the dirt of the Downstreet Cafe’s beer garden. This went on for years even after the bar closed. I saw Trader Bob give Bob Burkhardt a tattoo there.
Johnny used to throw poker parties at his house. I would play at the safe table. It had a .50 limit. Johnny was always at the $5.00 table. This table was serious business and noone looked like they were having a good time.
One day I was tending bar in the beer garden at the Oyster Bar. Someone had given me a brownie that I didn’t know was laced with dope. Johnny came in with his girlfriend Nondis. We fell in love with each other.
Johnny made his living scavenging. When Steve and I were living on
After the Downstreet closed Johnny still lived there. One night after partying with him all night my girlfriend Lisa and I walked out into the winter cold. I saw a glow coming from the top floor of the 1860s Saloon. The restaurant addition was still years off. I could tell it was a fire. I yelled at Lisa to call the fire department and went to investigate.
Later Richard, the owner would extend free drinks to her for saving the building but would never even acknowledge my existence.
Johnny was always somewhere between local character and cultural icon in my heart and mind. I hope I get a lot of comments about him because I really don’t know enough about him.
The photo is from the inside of a Soulard Blues Band CD. It was shot at the Grizzly Bear before the rehab.