The Kind John LewisPosted: July 24, 2020
I’m late to the arena to post my memories of John Lewis. I am sad for our country to lose such a great and kind leader during these troubling times. I say kind from my personal interactions with him.
In the late eighties when I had a side business as a caterer in DC where I catered for Congressman Lewis. I got the job because I cook cook “southern” in a time when hauté cuisine was the thing.
I met Lewis’ AA during my one year in the junior league. She was the only African American in my small group and she and I became friends as we were very different from most of the much younger women whose only ambitions appeared to be to marry and have babies. One evening I brought some peach bars to our small group meeting and she told me her boss would love them, so I let her take the leftovers from the meeting. I did not know at the time her boss was the esteemed Congressman.
Later she called me and asked if I could cater a stand up reception for her boss. Back then Congress had a rule that they could not do sit down fundraisers and all food had to be finger food. It was then I realized I was being asked to cater for a Congressman.
In Washington there are A, B and C list congressmen. Most are C list, people no one knows or recognizes outside their home districts. Not that they might not do good work, but they were not recognizable to me. John Lewis was, even back then, an A list a congressman. I remember the first time I met him he said, “You are the famous Peach bar baker.” I could not believe he connected me to the leftovers. Thankfully that night I had made pecan bars which he loved more than the peach ones and requested them at each reception I worked for him after that.
As a caterer you are just “the help.” Hardly anyone seeks you out to spend time with you at events. Your job is to feed people good food and make sure everything runs smoothly. I could really tell the difference in people’s character by how they treated me and my staff. At jobs I did for John Lewis I often was just dropping food off and not running the party so I was not always there for the entire event. So it meant even more that he would come out of his office and thank me and tell me what he really enjoyed that I last cooked for him. If you look up the definition of kind in the dictionary his picture is next to it.
When Carter went on her seventh grade school trip to Washington DC she knew of my fondness for John Lewis. While at the Capital she spotted him and since he was walking nearby she ran over to him and shook his hand. I was so happy she had the gumption to do that. She knew my stories about working for him 25 years before and knew he would treat her with respect.
He really was a towering man when it came to treating people right. I am sorry that we did not have cameras phones back then. I never got a photo with him and I wish I had, but I will always remember him fondly.