there lived a poor little kid named Johnny. He was a true blue Baltimorean who had a natural ability to turn a buck…
Business was taking off and it wasn’t long before his son, John Jr. was drawn behind the counter. Johnny’s son, now in his early teens loved the excitement of the store but like most family businesses found it hard to work with his father. After several year of bickering, young John offered to pay his father’s salary for a year to stay away. Still the opportunist, Johnny the Polock accepted the challenge, confident he would be able to pick up the pieces if things didn’t work out. The year flew and the checks came like clockwork. Johnny Sr. was enjoying the steady income and freedom but was anxious to return to work. When the year was up, his son was standing at the front door beaming with pride. John Jr. hand cleaned the place up, installed a new tile floor and countertop. Plus he bought some newer pinball machines. Johnny Sr. sold the business to his son on a gentleman’s handshake. As we entered the early sixties, J.F.K (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) becomes U.S.A’s President.. J.F.K (John Francis Kafka) becomes P.J.’s president. John had already begun a family. He had three children then and was excited to take over the business.
However in the mid sixties, J.F.K. was shot and we were still at war in Vietnam. The in 1968, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, and the country simply exploded in anger. John watched in horror as the riots came down Baltimore Street like wild locusts. All he could do was pray for God’s mercy on his family business. Miraculously the destruction stopped between Calvert and Holliday Streets, less than two blocks from Polock Johnny’s. The next day, Johnny called Lexington Market to open a second location. He always wanted to support his family, which now had another mouth to feed. John was still dumbfounded at the power of his childlike prayer to protect his family business. John’s special brand of humor was often heard on the radio throughout the seventies with Tom Davis (WCBM) roaring hysterically. The favorite was the “taste test” when the second taste tester says…”Someone took a bite from this Polish…”and Polock Johnny replies, “Try the other end lady, this is radio,” and Tom Davis explodes with laughter. Polock Johnny took current events and advertising slogans and adapted it with his humor to the business.
John had annual Polish Sausage eating contests that got media attention locally. In the mid 1970’s National Geographic carried the story and it went around the world. (That’s why we’re world famous.) Well, with all this media hoopla and the opening of the third store on Howard Street, Polock Johnny's was becoming a household name in Baltimore. John had been successful in all his endeavors. In the mid 1970’s John began receiving phone calls inquiring about franchise opportunities. (A chance for investors to buy the Polock Johnny concept and open a store of their own). At the time it sounded like a win/win, so seemingly Polock Johnny’s were opening up everywhere in Baltimore. John decided to open a meat factory so he could insure the quality of the polish sausage in his company stores and franchises. He hired a specialist from Germany, Pete Mueller, to create his sausage. They became good friends as did their wives. Pete was calm through all the problems they faced getting the new factory opened, then in developing the sausage. Pete was determined and focused, not easily disturbed by the delays and failures. One night, when John arrived home his wife was anxious to share with him the gospel of John 3:16, explaining that was why Pete’s family was so content with the challenges of life. They trusted Jesus in all things.
that point on, John began living his life putting Jesus first. While driving home from work on I-83 one day, he felt the presence of Jesus in his car. The Lord was telling him to remove the lottery machines from the stores. Confused John replied, “I donate money from the lottery profits, Lord.” Unimpressed God told him, “I don’t need that money and by the way, get rid of those cigarette machines too.” John did as he was told the next day and whenever someone asked why he took them out he said, “God told me to.” John used his time and money to serve Jesus and the people of Baltimore. He could not thank God enough for blessing him with good parents, a loving wife, four healthy children, and for answering his childlike prayer to have mercy on his family business in the sixties. He lived humbly and quietly serving Christ until he was called home to Heaven to live happily ever after. (That’s the only way a story can ever end – happy! The rest are fairy tales.) And this isn’t a fairy tale!