Marvin's delivers to Marvin this time

Thursday, June 21, 2012
About to pick up a GCB (garlic cheeseburger) from his plate, Marvin Long enjoys his lunch Wednesday at Autumn Glen during "Marvin's delivers to Marvin" day at the senior community.

In the 30-year tradition that is "Marvin's delivers anywhere," ubiquitous homemade banners and signs proclaiming the Greencastle eatery's propensity for publicity have popped up virtually everywhere.

They've been photographed at Graceland, unfurled at every tropical isle this side of Gilligan's, and even proudly misinterpreted as a political statement in Moscow's Red Square.

But never, until Wednesday in the dining room of Autumn Glen Senior Community on Greencastle's East Side, had Marvin's delivered to Marvin.

That's Marvin as in Marvin Long, the patriarch, namesake and founder of the ionic DePauw University campus restaurant he opened in 1971.

Now 88 and staying at Autumn Glen while he recovers from some health issues, Long was thrilled when the staff at the facility suggested a "Marvin's delivers to Marvin" lunch.

Marvin's delivered 22 GCBs (and five other sandwiches sans garlic and cheese for those with more tender tummies) Wednesday.

For several of the older diners, it was their first exposure to what has become a campus and Greencastle staple. Marvin's is now owned by Kevin Sullivan.

Mike Balka, the personable new site director at Autumn Glen, said the project was the brainchild of associate director Sue McCune.

McCune said the Autumn Glen staff has enjoyed talking with Long about his days at Marvin's and the fame of the garlic cheeseburgers (GCBs) that have become synonymous with his restaurant.

"We thought it would be fun for him to do a 'Marvin's Day,'" McCune said, noting that Long's relatives were contacted for their approval, and provided a resounding "he'd love it" response.

Long's family did ask for a photo they can include in an album they've compiled of "Marvin's delivers" pictures.

"Oh, we've had a lot of nice stories come out of it," Long said as he enjoyed a GCB at the guys' table alongside Chet Fornari Sr., Russell Allen, Pete Weickert, Merrill Church and Vernie Zeiner.

He can trace the origins of those Marvin's delivers photos that dot the walls of the campus hangout to a 1982 trip that Jeff Travis, a DePauw Sigma Chi he knew well, took with his father to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

"The interesting part about it," Long shared, "is that it was his dad who suggested it."

And by "it," Long means creating a homemade "Marvin's delivers" sign (which later evolved into posters, bed sheets and banners) and taking a picture of DePauw students, alumni, faculty and/or staff holding the same in front of some scenic or historic background.

Travis gave Long a small photo to commemorate the initial event and display at Marvin's.

"That started it," Long said. "It certainly caught on."

Easily the most memorable "Marvin's delivers" moment occurred in the fall of 1985 when four DePauw students held up signs that read "Marvin's delivers to Moscow" right in Red Square and ended up in a jail full of drunks for a couple hours.

Remember, this was still in the midst of the Cold War and the Soviets probably didn't know Marvin Long from Lee Marvin.

"They thought Marvin's was a missile," Sue McCune said, sharing a story Long had related earlier. "The Russians thought they (the students) were going to deliver a missile."

At the time, Long said he was flattered by such international attention and would consider opening a Red Square franchise.

Long enjoys sharing such memories with the Autumn Glen staff and residents, McCune assures.

"Some of his stories are just phenomenal to listen to," she said.

"We did have some wild stories," Long agreed. "I enjoyed every minute of it."

That included lending students money without fear of not being paid back and being called upon in the middle of the night to bail a student or two out of jail after an evening of too much partying.

"We always had a good relationship with the university," Long said. "DePauw was good to me. The administration was good to me, and of course, the kids have certainly been nice."

Through it all, Long offers a short, simple recipe for his success.

"Probably the one thing responsible for my success was knowing peoples' names," he reasoned. "I'm convinced if you know the people and treat them well, they'll come back.

"I admit otherwise I was a poor businessman really as far as good business practices go."

Long, who has been at Autumn Glen since March, is hopeful of returning to his Elm Street home with wife Kitty shortly as they face the possibility of selling the house they have lived in since 1962 and moving into senior living accommodations permanently.

"I came to town with the A & P in 1962," Long said, "and we've been here ever since in the same house."

Long was disappointed he wasn't able to attend any Alumni Weekend functions at DePauw this year.

"I missed that," he said. "That's been sort of the highlight of my year recently. A couple of kids did come out here to see me."

He also received a card and a note from Jeff Travis, the original "Marvin's delivers" guy, who had learned Long was under the weather.

"What I miss the most about it all," Long said, "is that when somebody would come in, and I'd know them by name."

That would usually bring a smile and a sale.

Legend has it at one point Long had nicknames for about 1,000 students.

"Oh, I doubt it was a thousand," he smiled. "But maybe 800."

Regardless of the number, it was Marvin delivering again.

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  • Marvin my adoptive dad who has helped so many people thr out his life, Thanks to Marvins for this !!

    -- Posted by NPmom66 on Thu, Jun 21, 2012, at 7:42 AM
  • What a charming story of a wonderful, generous, and caring man. Get well soon Marvin!

    -- Posted by dcsaiht on Thu, Jun 21, 2012, at 9:11 AM
  • Nice story about Marvin. He truly is an icon! I worked for him for 5 years in the 80's.Get well soon!

    -- Posted by fishersresident on Thu, Jun 21, 2012, at 10:13 AM
  • I worked for Marvin for several years when he first bought George's Pizza and later at Topper's. He was truly a great friend and mentor to me and to many others. Nice to know people are still looking out for him.

    -- Posted by Hal J on Thu, Jun 21, 2012, at 12:20 PM
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