When Jack Dyson bussed his first table at Charles Vergos' Rendezvous, Lyndon Johnson was president of the United States, William Ingram was mayor of Memphis, and Vergos was king of ribs.
"We called him Big Daddy," Dyson said. "Everybody thought he was mean, but he was good to us. He was a good man. He'd tell us all the time, 'We're family. We see each other more than we see our own families.'"
"Big Jack" Dyson started as a busboy for his friend Robert Stewart in 1965, quickly advanced to waiter, and this week, probably Friday, he is calling it quits. His regular customers are invited to a going-away party at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the restaurant to say goodbye to Dyson, a 77-year-old Korean War veteran who worked two jobs for many years.
"When Jack passes on, there are going to be people in his backyard with ditch-digging equipment, looking for where he buried all his money," joked John Vergos, co-owner of the Rendezvous.
His hard work put three of his four children through college, and earned him mention by U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen on the House floor on Tuesday (watch the video below). Dyson and his wife, Bobbie Ann, take it in stride. She has plans for the two of them now that the children are long grown and her husband is going to have free time.
"I think we're going to travel a bit," she said. "We're in good shape, our minds are good. We'll go somewhere, come back and check on the house, and maybe go some place else.
Congressman Steve Cohen honoring Jack on the House floor: