In October of 1993, I pulled up stakes and got the fuck out of Oregon. My father had died on Christmas Eve of 1990, and I really tried to soldier on up there, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Without going into too many details… Suffice it to say that once my long term girlfriend dumped me (we’d been dating for about 4 years, which was over 20% of my life up to that point) and I found myself homeless, jobless, aimless, and with a number of legal and fiscal issues pressing -and in a way that would likely have resulted in a fair amount of jail time- my feet were hot to move! All that is not even getting into the fact that my circle of friends were even more homeless, jobless, and aimless than me. So I hopped on a bus with GTFO as my only destination.
Once I got to sunny Arizona, I hammered out the legal and fiscal issues which had caused all the concerns. It took me several years to do so -since I was only earning minimum wage or a scrape above it- but I did ultimately get this all resolved paid off. The entire story is detailed in one of my pages linked to on the right, but it was written a hell of a long time ago, back when this was all fresh in my memory. I wouldn’t recommend reading it, but it’s there if you are bored and what to see what the writing of an angry and raging alcoholic looks like.
It was right around the year 1995 that I had paid all I could pay to make the issues go away. The Oregon courts no longer had any issue with me, but the Oregon DMV was still holding a grudge (I had my license revoked in Oregon at the age of 16 for driving without a license or insurance). They carried that grudge until about the year 2000. It was 2001 when I was finally able to get a legal, clean driver’s license again. Which, not-coincidentally, was the year I married my wife.
With a clean slate in Oregon since 2001, I’ve had a number of chances and reasons to go back for a visit. I never did. Like the battered woman that runs from the abusive husband, I just didn’t feel any need or desire to go back.
What was funny was that the things I thought I would miss: friends, family, and etc. were not an issue. I’m still in contact with the friends and family I care about through social media. The ones I don’t care about have faded to memory just like friends slowly faded from the memory of your parents without social media to keep them together.
The one thing I really, truly missed was … Abby’s Pizza.
The Abby’s pizza on Stephens street was such a huge part of my childhood that I literally don’t go a day without thinking about some aspect of it. You got to watch them make your pizza. You got free balloons. They had those old, thick wooden chairs that really hurt your ass. And the pizza was amazing! Growing up in Roseburg in the 70s, there weren’t any Dominos, or Pizza Huts, or Papa John’s. If you wanted Pizza, it was Abby’s or pretty much nothing. They did later open a Round Table pizza, which was pretty good. Also a Firehouse Pizza in the old firehouse, which was also pretty good. But, aside from those, it was Abby’s or nothing.
I didn’t realize just how much I missed Abby’s pizza until I started planning for my trip this week -in 2018. The first thing I did was book my flights, obviously. The second thing I did was book my hotel rooms, obviously. The third thing I did was to look up Abby’s pizza locations to make sure that I would be able to eat it again while I was up here.
My flight landed in Portland on Monday and I had to drive to Boardman, OR (no Abby’s). Tuesday I drove to Prosser, WA (no Abby’s). But today brought me to Yakima, WA where there is an Abby’s! I’ve been anticipating this pizza for 24 goddam years.
How was it? Well, the box is way different, but it has the same guy from the balloons of my youth smiling on it. The box was the wrong color, too. But it was familiar enough to recognize. I smiled when I saw the little guy on the box. Why? Nostalgia. 24 years later and he still looks enough like the original that I was able to immediately recognize him. It further reminded me of how I told Dad that I was looking for work every day when all I actually did was go to the Abby’s pizza in Winston every day to fill out another application and ask if they were hiring. Why? Because my uncle Randy had told me that employees got all the pizza for free -as much as they could eat. I ultimately got the job at the Abby’s in Winston (the pizza was not free for employees). It was my first job and I made it damn near a year. Pretty good for a sixteen-year-old whose father died during that period.
As for the pizza…
Long before I got to my hotel room I knew what the pizza was going to be: half Lunguicia, half Beef and Onion. My brothers, dad, mom, stepmom, and stepsister always had different ideas of their favorite pizza. That usually involved the “Abby’s special” which was a not-quite-eveerything-on-it version of an everything-on-it pizza. Or the “Skinny special” which was Canadian bacon and Tomatoes (for no damn reason other than that it was the favorite of one of the two founders). Other popular ones among my family were the “Taco pizza” and, of course, good old Pepperoni (back in the day, Abby’s piled that shit high. Don’t know if they still do, but it was impressive back in the 70s and early 80s).
None of those matched my personal taste and I was often outvoted. My favorites were Linguicia (to this day I don’t know exactly what this is. It is obviously a type of sausage and has a garlic flavor, but I’ve never seen it offered anywhere other than Abby’s) and Beef and Onion. The pizza I ordered today was half and half of those two. In my picture to the left, you’ll note that I immediately gobbled down one piece of each -well before I had made it to any flat surface on which to set the box to take a picture.
The verdict: It is still way better than the major chain pizza places. But, and it is a big but, this pizza cost me about thirty bucks delivered to my hotel (pizza, tax [I am in Washington, not Oregon tonight], delivery fee, and tip). The Linguicia tastes just as amazing as I remember, but the onions on the Beef and Onion were changed from white to purple at some point, which makes it taste a bit too onion-y. Still good, but the blander white onions really made this one taste good 25 years ago and I’m sad that they went away from that. The mixture of Mozzarella and Cheddar was still pretty amazing. I’m surprised other pizza joints have stolen this idea. Mozzarella is a very mild and nearly flavorless cheese. That bit of cheddar really makes the pizza pop.
So, 24 years later, I’ve done everything I intended to do when I got back to Oregon: ate an Abby’s pizza. Hopefully when I get back here -if current patterns hold, I will be 68 at the time- I’ll be able to taste some more of this amazing Linguicia!