Charles & Andrea Johnson
I enjoyed talking to and writing about my friend Barbara so much, I headed over to Aunny’s Restaurant on Front Street to talk with a couple more friends, Andrea and Charles Johnson, the owners and proprietors of Aunny’s. They have delicious country style meals on their menu - all homemade from scratch. When I want something tasty, nothing fancy, just down home cooking, I head over to Andrea’s.
We sat in one of the booths talking and talking. Once again, it was a conversation I really enjoyed having. I adore Andrea. She is a very beautiful woman both on the inside and out. I have joked with her in the past that she’s my sister from another mother. She’s the black version of me and me the white version of her. We’re both mouthy and tend to speak before we think.
Although Andrea was born in Georgetown, she grew up in New Jersey. She lived there from the age of seven until she was 25 then she eventually moved back to Georgetown. “I even went to the school that movie was made about,” she said of her experience of living in New Jersey.
“Which movie would that be?” I asked.
“You know the one, East Side High. The one with Joe Clark as the principal from the movie Lean on Me.” She leans forward on the table and folds her arms in front of her as she continues, “The school wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be in the story though. At least, I don’t recall it being that way.”
“How long did you go to East Side High?”
“I graduated from there. My last year in high school was Joe Clark’s first year as the principal and I don’t remember him being that abrasive either, you know, like movie portrayed him to be?”
We talked a little bit about her children, her son Christopher, he’s in the military (go Chris!). Her daughter Janema is still in high school and she helps out mom in the restaurant a good bit. Andrea’s mother, Jane, also works full time there. She makes homemade pies and cakes that are absolutely out of this world! I strongly recommend a visit to Aunny’s if only for the delicious and tempting deserts Jane makes.
While Andrea and I were talking, Charles came in, her husband of eight years. “Come over here so Michelle can talk to us,” she called out to him. “She wants to write something on her blog.”
After explaining what a blog was and what I was doing, Charles promptly took a seat and started talking. Charles, seven years older than his wife, talked about his mother, Sadie Johnson. She was a cake maker here in town. I vaguely remember Sadie from years past.
Charles also talked about going to school here in Georgetown. “I went to Howard High School. This was before it was ready for integration like it is now. We had Winyah High for the white people and all the blacks went to Howard.”
“My husband went to Howard,” I said. “He has told me before it was primarily blacks but he didn’t like going to Winyah which is why he ended up at Howard.”
Charles nodded his head, “Yup and now everyone goes to one school.”
When I, myself, first moved here to Georgetown, there was a fire at Winyah High School. Charles and I reminisced some about the fire and the effects it had on the town. We also discussed how Georgetown High School was born through that fire and how it ultimately united both schools: Howard and Winyah.
“Would you like to hear a funny story?” Charles offers.
I smile and answer, “Yes I would! Tell me a funny story, Charles.”
He begins by telling me how, like my friend Barbara, he too grew up in the “white section” of town - the far end of Front Street.
“We both did,” Andrea chimes in.
“As a matter of fact, we only lived two doors down from each other,” Charles says. “Aunny was just a little girl then. I remember always stopping and speaking to her on my way home from school and then one day, she just disappeared and I didn’t see her again for years and years.”
“I don’t know why he was looking for some little girl anyway,” Andrea spouts out rolling her eyes at her husband. “I was just a baby. He shouldn’t have been looking at me anyway.”
Charles smiles and continues, “Anyway, I asked around a good bit, for years actually, asking people if they saw that nappy headed little girl who lived two doors away. When I got older, I used to hang around with one of her cousins. I knew her grandmother too but didn’t know they were related.”
“They used to call my grandmother, Doggy,” Andrea said of her late grandparent. “She raised me until I went to live in New Jersey with my mother.”
“And you didn’t make the connection?” I asked Charles.
“No, I just thought she’d moved away. I thought of her off and on over the years, always wondering what happened to her. When she finally came back to Georgetown we ran into each other.”
Andrea took over from there, “When we did bump into each other he started telling me he’d been looking for me. I was thinking to myself, why would he be looking for a little kid? And then he asked me out on a date! Can you believe it? Like I’m going to go out with some pervert or something!”
Charles laughs, “Well, you did go out with me. And here we are years later.”
“Do you feel like it was God’s calling for the two of you to be together?” I asked both of them. After all, the odds of them meeting in their tender youths, being separated all those years, and then later colliding into each other’s lives and becoming one.
Both Andrea and Charles nodded their head, “Oh yes. It was definitely in God’s plan for us.”
Andrea nudges her husband and says, “Let me tell you a funny story now.” She turns to her husband as he’s about to say something else and instructs, “Now be quiet, Charles, it’s my turn; my story.”
“Okay, go ahead and tell your story,” he concedes.
“Michelle, have you ever met someone who has diabetes and eats cakes and pies all day long, then checks their blood sugar and when it’s high, like 400-500, says, ‘I don’t understand why my sugar is so high.’ Do you know anyone like that?”
“No, but I’m guessing you do,” I answer as I look over at a grinning Charles.
Andrea rolls her eyes at her husband again and points to him, “He does it all the time. It makes me so mad when he does that too.”
I sort of hung my head, “I kind of do that too when I come in here, Andrea. You know I can’t resist Jane’s millionaire pie.”
“Yeah, but you’re not doing it every single day like he does,” she exclaims exasperated with her husband who is sitting there giggling.
I could empathize with Charles though. There is no way I could work in that restaurant around all that good eating and Jane’s fabulous deserts and not have a bit of something every day. Andrea has always wanted to own her own restaurant. Charles has been very supportive of that dream, helping her build it, run it with her side-by-side, and keep it going. I think he deserves a slice of pound cake or pecan pie once in a while.
One my favorite things about Aunny’s is Thanksgiving. Every year they play host to hundreds of Georgetonians and offer a free Thanksgiving meal. It’s their way of giving back to the community and showing their appreciation for our patronage. They are the only restaurant in Georgetown to offer that and give thanks in their own special way.
Two of my brothers, Keith and Brian, came to visit one year for the holidays. I made it a point to stop in and introduce them to Andrea and Charles. We were on our way to my daughter’s for the holiday feast so we didn’t eat Thanksgiving at the restaurant but that didn’t stop us from having dessert first. Neither of us could resist a slice of sweet potato pie before heading out.
As we wrap up our hour-long conversation, I begin to mentally piece together the story I’m going to write. I leave them with feelings of gladness. I had so much fun talking with Charles and Andrea. I’m blessed to know these two. Like all friends, we may not see each other every day but we know the other is there. At least, I certainly know where to find them if I start to miss them. Speaking of which: Jane has promised me a delicious millionaire pie during the summer months. See you at Aunny’s!