Lenora “Peachy” Dixon is by far the most interesting person I know. She’s a writer, a waitress, a stockholder in a major company, a mother, a grandmother, a music lover, a former business owner, and a proud Catholic. I helped edit her first memoir “A Peachy Life,” published by City Lit Press in 2011 and her forthcoming sequel “A Peachy Business.” (A third book is also in the works!) Patrick calls Peachy “Baltimore’s smart and beautiful version of Forrest Gump.” In her almost 74 years of life, Peachy has found herself standing beside some of the greatest people to ever set foot in Baltimore, from her old boss Johnny Unitas to her Sabatino’s customer Frank Sinatra. But Peachy’s favorite memories are being in the presence of St. John Paul II and Mother Teresa, right here in Baltimore.
On Thursday September 24th, 2015, Peachy will be in Philadelphia to celebrate with Pope Francis. She will be checking in with us afterwards! But, first I asked her to share her story of encountering then Pope John Paul II on October 8, 1995.
Peachy didn’t think that she would ever get to see the Pope in her lifetime because the Pope lived in Italy, the land of her ancestors, and she was just getting by as a waitress in Baltimore. When she heard that Pope John Paul II was going to be visiting Baltimore in 1995, she arranged to partake in the festivities with her friends Mary and Cindy from Sabatino’s.
Even though they had worked until 3 o’clock in the morning, the three ladies woke up extra early on that beautiful October morning, headed to Royal Farms, bought disposable cameras and coffee and headed downtown to scope out a good spot to see the Pope John Paul II.
They settled in at the intersection of Pratt and Charles Streets and watched Pope John Paul II say Mass in Camden Yards as it was broadcast on a huge TV screen right before them. Peachy’s Aunt Mary and Aunt Lena attended the Mass, while Father Lou Esposito from her parish, Our Lady of Pompei, assisted Pope John Paul II.
Peachy was wearing blue, the color of the Blessed Mother, because her Aunt Mary said the Pope would look her way. But, when Peachy looked around, she realized that Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were lined up across from her, and for sure, the Pope would see them first. When he drove by in the Popemobile, Pope John Paul heard the chants “Papa! Papa!” from the Hispanic people surrounding Peachy and her friends and turned to them and waved.
Moments later, iconic Baltimore reporter Michael Olesker and his wife Susie came by to interview everyone about the experience. Peachy said, “The thing that is special about Pope John Paul is he radiates holiness; you can feel the rays of holiness coming from him.” Peachy went on to explain that by being near Pope John Paul II, she could receive some of those rays.
Peachy, Mary, and Cindy chased the Popemobile as far as they could. “It was like chasing a rock star,” she said. “Except in this case, the rock is Jesus.”