Notes from Jan

Life After Pizza

February 7, 2019

I love pizza. True, there are healthier things to eat or, I suppose, you could eat just one slice with a generous serving of kale on the side.

My love affair goes back to a hole-in-the-wall place called, Freddie’s,  in the town of Wheaton, Illinois. It sat just down the street from the dorm Jud called home for his first two years at Wheaton College.

Jud and I’d met working in the college kitchen during our Freshman year. Neither of us came from money, unless spare change counts. So, in our Sophomore year, Freddie’s was where he took me for our first date, unless you count going to a Billy Graham meeting together, a couple of weeks earlier. (Did some of you just roll your eyes?)

Growing up in the South, I knew a lot about friend chicken, grits, okra, country ham and sweet tea but nothing about pizza. I’d never had veal cutlets before, either, which we served too often in the cafeteria. Most of them could’ve been fired as weapons.

Freddie’s felt just right for a first date. No need to wear my hairnet or apron, requirements when working behind the college cafeteria line, nor study up on proper manners. I knew the basics.

Jud and I had a lot in common as two preacher’s kids. We both needed to work, were the eldest in our families and practiced at being responsible for more than just ourselves.

When the pizza showed up, we clinked our cokes together, then wrestled free our first slice of pepperoni pizza, still my favorite. As Jud bit down, I heard another clink. We both looked down to discover a tooth on his plate. It turned out to be his front left tooth.

Jud shrugged, calmly picked up the tooth, dropped it into his pocket like some regular mealtime occurrence, then flashed me one of those smiles that kept me coming back for more than pizza for another fifty-five years.

Over pizza, I learned he’d broken the tooth in eighth grade while playing hockey and crack -the -whip. Jud’d put up with the stub until his folks could afford to get a replacement a few years later. The capped tooth held until Freddie’s pizza loosened it and sent it free-falling along with my heart.

OK, so those last four words read like the ending of a Hallmark movie, which I sometimes crave over reality. Then again, I never dreamed my happily- ever- after would show up with a dose of reality one night at Freddie’s, when a young man dared to laugh at himself, after plunking down more than cash, then smile at me with one tooth missing, but nothing else that really mattered.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Karen A Knezevic Gold February 7, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I love this story about you and Jud! Happy Valentines Day to two forever Valentines!

  • Reply Priscilla Young February 7, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    This is just lovely, Jan! Nothing else really mattered. Hugs to you!

  • Reply diane blake February 7, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Oh yes, those dreaded breaded veal cutlets. We had them at Gordon as well; I’d also never had them before and thought veal was inedible–until I had wienerschnitzel in Austria–as they were meant to be cooked.

  • Reply Niffy February 7, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Absolutely loved hearing this story about you both! I can truly picture his toothless smile and that gleam in his eyes!

  • Reply Sue Andringa February 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Soooo sweet! Love this Jan …❤️

  • Reply Jill MacCully February 7, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Sweetest story, Jan!! Your husband was a cutie, for sure. I was saying to my hubby yesterday while we were eating pizza that I couldn’t understand how anyone could not like pizza! It was unfathomable! I think I’d even request it as a last meal on earth,. Your story made me smile, so thank you. Keep ‘em coming.

  • Reply Dale Lefever February 7, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    It is good to have some stories to tell. Perhaps, this is something spouses should discuss in advance- sort of a prenuptial secret code. I never saw him without the tooth or, more importantly, without the smile. I have to say, however, the smile sometimes seemed a bit devilish!

    Love to you dear friend, Dale

  • Reply Valerie McCoy February 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Oh how yummy…mine with extra cheese….well done please.

    One evening as I pulled into our driveway there was, lining both sides, pizza delivery advertisements taped to the fence on one side, and on the bushes of the other side. I closed the car door, knowing that I was to guess their meaning. I looked up at the back door when I heard, “do you have any idea what we should have for dinner?”
    I love this man!!!

    P.S. Tonight on ‘Chronicle’ they are focusing on “the best places for delicious pizza in MA”.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate February 7, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Oh, Jan. Think of all the people smiling at the thought of Jud’s marvelous grin…with or without that front tooth! What a great memory you’ve shared.

  • Reply Nancy Mering February 8, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Pizza—and a haggle-tooth Jud—garnered a large response to this post, didn’ it! Jud even made a cameo appearance in my dream last night. In addition to reading this post yesterday, I had commented to David last night that Senator Blumenthal from CT—whom we saw on the news—sounds like Jud.

  • Reply Maggie February 8, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    What a wonderful love story, Jan! Ours began as Wheaton students as well, though out at the South Dakota campus.

    I want to go out right now into my NC yard and carve JUD + JAN on a tree somewhere in your honor. His too. So glad you were our Adam’s “Gordon parents”!

  • Reply Raquel February 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Dearest MamaJan,
    What a precious story! I could see all of it happening right in front of my eyes. I was a witness of the deep love you always felt for each other: so inspiring, so beautiful, so true. I miss you both…What a gifted writer you are! What a GIFT you are for all of us to have the privilege of knowing you!
    I am sure when we all reunite in heaven with Dr. C we will laugh and make jokes about this event. His smile will be ever brighter.
    We love you!
    P.S. I have such wonderful memories from our Bertucci’s pizza ‘escapades’ with you! We had a lot of fun, didn’t we! Bless you always!

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold February 11, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    This story made my day. Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment, Jan.

  • Reply Wendy Lane February 12, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Ditto to all the comments already made. Fabulous! In so many ways. <3

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