On Dec. 20, Erby Walker, 68, will have worked at the Varsity for 53 years. He retired in 2002, but works three days a week now.
How'd you get your start?
At 15, I swept the floors. Now I'm a "jack of all trades."
You work the counter inside, right?
In the early '60s before integration, I worked curbside. I couldn't wait on folks inside, no white folks. The morning after Selma, I worked the counter, but I couldn't wait on white women. The manager would run back and forth to wait on them. Finally, he said, "You do just as good as I can."
Do you eat here every day?
Yes. I used to eat 12 hot dogs a day but when my health started failing, my doctor said I'd have to cut down to six a day and walk more.
You raised a family working here.
A wife and 12 kids. Four went to college. Sometimes I worked 80 hours a week.
Have you gotten any gifts for your seniority and service, like a watch?
I took two trips to Disney World and Busch Gardens with my whole family and $750 in spending money. I got a watch at 30 years, I think.
What's the most unusual thing you've seen on the job?
We used to sell beer. On Fridays, it was high school games, and on Saturdays, college games. One guy -- he must have weighed 260 pounds -- got drunk and passed out. We had to haul him out on a float.
You've waited on some famous folks.
President Bush (the old man), a bunch of athletes, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Carter, President Clinton.
What did Clinton order?
Two all the way dogs, onion rings and coffee. I said he needed a frosted orange, but it was winter and he said it was too cold. I thought later, when he got in trouble, he should have had that frosted orange. It would have cooled him off.
The Varsity, 61 North Ave. 404-881-1706.
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