Zodie and the Pogo Stick

9 04 2013

About 18 years ago, I was asked to teach a 30-hour class in OSHA compliance at the largest employer in Perry, Florida. A former co-worker, Ed, who was new to our company, came along to learn and assist with the training. Perry is, in at least one regard, similar to Carrolton, Kentucky (See Tina’s Barbecue, posted April 1, 2011) in that there isn’t an abundance of really good places to eat. Yes, there are some decent places but you will not find a Ruth’s Chris, a P.F. Chang or Carrabbas within a 50 mile radius. Perry is a typical small town in which you ask the locals where to go to get a good steak and they all tell you Golden Corral.

In this case, the locals suggested a local seafood restaurant called Roy Deal’s. So, that evening, Ed and I went to Roy Deal’s, just a couple of miles outside of Perry. I remember only two things from that first visit to Roy Deal’s-one; the food was so-so at best and two, the live entertainment.

The waitress, a young woman named Zodie, took our order and then returned table-side with some type of musical contraption I would later

Zodie and the Pogo Stick

Zodie and the Pogo Stick

learn is called a pogo stick. The pogo stick was a stick much like a broom handle with a cymbal on top and another cymbal about halfway down from the top. Below that cymbal … oh heck, just look at the picture. She began rhythmically banging the rubber foot on the floor and alternately banging the top cymbal and drum head with a drum stick while singing along to her own beat. She appeared to play the pogo stick more out of duty than desire. After she finished her performance, I asked her, jokingly, how long it took her to learn to play the pogo stick. She paused and said, “About three months.”

I have been back to Perry many times since that initial visit but until recently, have not returned to Roy Deal’s. But recently, I was back in Perry, again to teach the same OSHA class. I was asking class participants about Zodie, who has become a local icon, and was told that she bought the restaurant. It is now Deal’s Famous Oyster House and operates out of the same building.

I decided to go back and give it another try. It was a hole in the wall then and remains a hole in the wall today but I have learned over the years and millions of miles traveled, never judge a restaurant by its exterior appearance. I walked in the door and although I did not recognize her, Zodie stood by the register right at the door. She said, “Some of the finest people in the world come through that door.” Then I noticed, coming in or going out, any employee standing in the general vicinity of the door said that anytime the door opened, a-la Waffle House. I guess that and the pogo stick have become the Deal’s trademark.

The food has improved. I enjoyed dinner, especially the crab cake. As I stood by the register to pay for my meal, I noticed a picture of Zodie and the pogo stick taken in 1993. I told Zodie about my first Deal’s experience and she said I could not leave before she played the pogo stick. She switched the music from the Christian music which had been playing, to Cotton-eyed Joe. She then played the pogo stick for me and went to every table in the place. There was no doubt this time; Zodie loved playing the pogo stick. I enjoyed it and saw some skills that I don’t remember her showing back during that first visit. In fact, her talent was evident. My only regret is not shooting some video.

So, if you are ever passing through Perry, Florida, be sure to stop at Deal’s Famous Oyster House. Even if you don’t care to eat, stop by and ask Zodie to play the pogo stick. You’ll enjoy the experience almost as much as she will.

Deal's Famous Oyster House

Deal’s Famous Oyster House

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