Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. He launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. You can follow People’s District on Twitter @PeoplesDistrict, and can read his previous columns here.
“I came to this country as a young man almost 50 years ago. When I came here, I knew nothing and had nothing. I arrived in Washington with 35 cents and didn’t speak any English. I had a job waiting for me at the Turkish Embassy, but didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi ride from the bus station to the embassy. The doorman at the Turkish Embassy paid it for me. I remember it was 95 cents and I eventually paid him back.
“After some time at the job, I started to make some money and learned the language. In my early days here, I met this girl who invited me on a date to go and see The Beatles play at the Uline Arena. I knew about The Beatles from Turkey, but just thought they were weird and had long, shaggy hair. We went to the concert, and remember, I couldn’t speak English, so this girl took my hand and let me around like a child.
“When The Beatles got on stage, the place went berserk. I never saw so many crazy people in my life. You couldn’t hear anything because of all of the screaming. All of those girls must have lost their voices during the show. The whole time, I am thinking, all of this for some weird guys with long hair?
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“I realize that those kids from Liverpool really gave a gift to the world by changing music. They not only created a beautiful gift in music, but they gave a gift of opportunity to people. To me, the most precious, wonderful thing that I learned from The Beatles is that the greatest gift you can give, is to let someone benefit from following your passion.
“For me, I have tried to do that with my different businesses by giving people work and opportunity. I did that when I ran my house painting business, and I do that now at my restaurant, the Perfect Pita.”
Atilla just opened his 12th Perfect Pita restaurant at 1200 1st St NE.