By Mike Tenbusch | January 29, 2021

Way back in 1973, I remember eating at Buddy’s pizza in Detroit with my brother, my dad, and my dad’s best friend, Fr. Frank Canfield, S.J.  Because I was kind of a mischievous 4-year-old, I snuck a sip of my dad’s beer when he wasn’t looking.  Of course he saw me.  And because it was Detroit in the 1970’s, when life was much, much different, he and Fr. Frank decided to have some fun with it.  Pointing out the police officers sitting a couple of tables away, they convinced me that they would have to report me for drinking beer illegally.  They had no choice.  It was the law.  I might go to jail.  They scared me so bad I literally peed my pants.  I still get butterflies now just writing about it.

You might think that I would never return to Buddy’s again, but their pizza was just too good.  It became our family treat, our go-to place on birthdays and special occasions to this day.  

The restaurant looks and feels today just like it did in 1973.  But over time its unique pizza has inspired a “Detroit Style Pizza” that is now being sold at Pizza Huts nationwide, according to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Buddy’s success is encouraging to me.  They never stopped doing the thing they loved at their home on the corner of 6 Mile and Conant, despite how difficult conditions have been in the world that surrounds them.  And now, decades later, their influence can be felt across the nation. 

I think your investments in our scholarship students who are grinding out their education in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Nicaragua are going to pay off like Buddy’s.  Children growing up helping their parents work in the horrific conditions of unregulated garbage dumps are becoming teachers and writers, mechanics and accountants.  Nine in Nicaragua alone are on their way to becoming doctors.  How much better the world will be for the people in their care.

If you are stuck in the rut of the quarantine’s limitations, whether you’re a parent of a student trying to do kindergarten on Zoom, or a teacher or student bereft of the time in person together when we can actually see each other’s smile, know that our best days are still ahead of us.  Keep finding and doing things that you love.  Have some Detroit-style pizza this weekend.  Hold onto the fact that together we will get through this, and the impact of doing what you love every day is going to change the world over time.

P.S. Shout out to my cousin, Steve Walton, who retires today after 25 years with the Detroit Police Department.  We met at Buddy’s for lunch many times over the years, and he has served and protected this city with grace and compassion as a patrol officer, a homicide detective and as captain of the 6th and the 11th precincts.  Job well done, Captain.