This time, at least, the Bulldogs came out on top. Actually, they came out way over the top. So much so that I can already see how the sarcastic bumper stickers are likely to read: “Culture 0, Agriculture 45”.
As I watched the game, I reflected on my own various trips to these two schools and their respective stadiums over the years. Samford Stadium and Bobby Dodd stadium are at once uniquely different and somewhat similar.
In Athens at U.G.A., the defining feature is surely the hedges, between which the game is played. In Atlanta at Ga. Tech, it is likely the city’s skyline looming up and over the field of play in every direction.
One thing they have in common is their respective proximity to a world famous restaurant known as “The Varsity”. The latter now has multiple locations all over the metropolitan Atlanta area. But its principle location has always been directly across the street from Georgia Tech. Not surprisingly, its first expansion was to open in Athens, Georgia, not far from the University of Georgia’s campus.
Billed as the largest drive-in restaurant in the world, the original downtown Atlanta location takes up two entire city blocks, and can accommodate up to 500 cars in the parking lot and 800 indoor diners simultaneously. Known principally for its chili dogs and fries/onion rings, as well as it frozen Orange drinks, it can serve as many as 30,000 hungry customers in a single day!
According to its website (https://thevarsity.com/):
“The original Varsity was opened in 1928 on a 70' X 120' lot with a white picket fence by a man named Frank Gordy; a man with a $2000 nest egg and "million dollar taste buds." Through his dedication to freshness, superior quality, advanced technology and serving the best food fast, he gained a reputation that is known worldwide.”
A pastor I know, who grew up in Atlanta and attended the now defunct O'Keefe Junior High School, the property of which has since been subsumed by Georgia Tech, once told the following story about how the Varsity Restaurant was founded.
He related the story of how a sharp young man once flunked out of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon his expulsion, the young man was purportedly told by the Dean of Students that he would never amount to anything. Thereupon, he promptly went across the street and opened up a restaurant, known as The Varsity, determined to prove the Dean wrong. That he soon did!
I have searched the internet and have been unable to verify this story. It seems that after graduating from Reinhardt University, a certain Frank Gordy did indeed go on to enroll in the Georgia Institute of Technology.
For whatever reason though, in 1925, he left and started his now famous restaurant in 1928. One website says he decided that Tech “was not for him”. Yet, Ga. Tech’s own alumni page proudly proclaims that he came back to Tech and graduated in 1929.
It is obvious, therefore, that after ninety plus years, the intricacies of these various transitions in Gordy’s life are ambiguous to say the least. Why exactly he left Georgia Tech and then went back is not clear.
And yet, none of this, takes away from the power of the story I first heard some forty years ago and related above.
How many times has someone with a vision had that dream all but squelched by nay-sayers? How many times have visionaries been told that they would never succeed?
Praise God, therefore, for people who have vision. But praise God even more so for people with both vision and passion!!! After all, it is one thing to have a vision. It is another thing altogether to hang in there and see that vision through to fruition.
Frank Gordy seems to have known all of this. He seems to have known in his heart that his restaurant would succeed, and, for this reason, he worked with all his might to make this happen. On his very first day in business in 1928, he served 300 people. To put this in perspective, when hot dogs were selling for a nickel a piece, he brought in a whopping $47.30.
A year later, on the very day that the stock market crashed, he posted $68.30 in receipts. What is more, by the end of the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the bleakest economy in U.S. history, he had already made his first million dollars!
Let's apply this.
Do you have a dream? Do you have a vision? If so, then don’t surrender it in the face of nay-sayers! Instead, have a passion as big as your vision! Then, just plan your work and work your plan. In due time, who knows? You may well see the reward for your efforts! Frank Gordy certainly did.
So did a young man named Joseph in the Old Testament. He had great dreams about his future. And he dared to share those dreams with others, who then chose to frown on them. Yet, he believed, he persisted, and in due time, he triumphed. You can read more about him and his journey in the Old Testament Book of Genesis, chapters 37 and following.
To this very day, if you enter a Varsity restaurant and approach the counter, you will hear someone say, “What’ll ya have… What’ll ya have?” I close this post with the same question. What will you have out of life? What will you have today, tomorrow, and on into your future?
Perhaps the best answer to this question is, “I’ll have my chosen vision with a side of passion!” Trust me. That selection should both fill you up and sustain you for quite some time!