Johnson knows all about chickens, life
by Marguerite Cline
August 14, 2014 09:24 PM | 2928 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At 80 years old, Bob Johnson may be the healthiest person I know. Weekdays, he is the first to arrive at his very successful Hickory Flat business, Cherokee Tire Service. He turns on machinery before making his way to R&M Sandwich Shop in Canton to meet friends for coffee.

There, Bob, James Rogers, Albert Cagle, John Land, John Wilson, Andy Roach, Judge Marion Pope, Dr. Carl Edge, Richard Sims and other equally qualified folks attack the problems of the world. They call the sandwich shop The House of Knowledge.

Bob attributes his good health to being an active person. One of his favorite things to do is go dancing. He grew up in a dancing family. His parents would invite the neighbors over and roll up the rug.

After the death of his wife, he found himself lonely and depressed. He did not want to live that way, so he decided to start dancing again.

One night, Bob drove to Holly Springs to the Cherokee Shrine Club building to their weekly dance. He stayed in the car and watched people going in. Without going in he went back home.

Three weeks later, he tried again. That time he got up his nerve. Almost immediately, a lady came over and asked him to dance. After the ladies saw he was a good dancer, he never got a chance to rest.

Bob points out that the strongest thing to drink at the dances are coffee and tea. Older than they used to be, people like Bill Darby and Horace Darby are regulars.

Bob got a new lease on life. At the dance was where he met his now best friend. I will call her “Peaches” since Bob does. She likes to dance as much as he does.

Bob Johnson has had an interesting life. Most of the time, he worked in sales. For 17 years, he was regional manager for a company in Decatur, Ala.. For a while he sold insurance with Pink Swink and Carroll Reid. At Fred Haley Farms, he sold hatching eggs, chicks and hogs.

It was when he was working there that a call came from Washington D.C. The need was for hatching eggs for making the first flu vaccine. At the time it was a live virus. Bob took a flu shot and got the flu.

He said when he was working with Fred Haley he learned there was a use for every part of a chicken or hog except the cackle and the squeal.

Bob decided to go into business on his own. With his house as collateral, Etowah Bank President Pierce Neese loaned him $50,000. Both County Commission Chairman Trammell Carmichael and Bob’s dad warned him he could not pay it back.

The first year after he open the tire company he paid only the interest on the loan. The second year he paid the interest and some of the principal. By the fifth year the loan had been repaid and the business was thriving.

Clinton and Myrtle Johnson and their only child, Bob, moved to Cherokee County when he was a teenager. T.B. Bradshaw, a giant in the poultry industry, convinced them they should sell their farm in McDuffie County and move to Cherokee where the poultry industry was booming.

McDuffie County is near Fort Gordon. During World War II German prisoners were held there. When Bob and his dad drove by they could see the prisoners through the fencing.

While Bob was in Norwood Elementary School in Warren County, the school principal was arrested by the FBI. He was a German spy.

During his time serving his country, Bob was stationed in Alaska before it became a state. On the day he left for there, the temperature was 70 degrees. In Alaska, it was below zero.

He also had assignments in France, Germany and Spain.

Bob and Juanita Henderson met on a blind date. They wed two months later and were married for 58 years.

They had four children. Their son, Mark, and his wife, Wava, both work with Bob. Marcia married Dr. John Freeman and Lisa married Phil Adams. Lance, a well-known preacher, married Lisa Godfrey. Bob has five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one on the way.

Bob will not remember this, but decades ago he did something for me that was an act of kindness. I was the coach of the marching squad at Hickory Flat Elementary and his daughter, Marcia, was a member. Bob and I barely knew one another.

It was a below-freezing night. When I came off the field, he handed me a cup of hot chocolate. To this day I remember how cold I was and how warm that hot chocolate was.

There is one thing Bob Johnson asked me to be sure to include in this column. Whatever he has gained throughout his life was given to him through his faith in Jesus Christ.

Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.

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