The Day I Met… the Colonel

The Colonel with cheerleaders

Welcome to the latest entry in the The Day I Met… Competition. This time the story involves a colonel and some Irish coffee – a potentially dangerous combination.

The story is by Grannymar. But which colonel is she talking about?

Could it be the man in white? Is that a picture of their actual encounter?  Actually… No. It’s not him. But the precise identity of this powerful gent remains shadowy. Perhaps you can identify him from the details in the story?

So here’s Grannymar’s tale – adapted from her podcast Will You Have A Coffee – of…

The Day I Met… The Colonel

Back in a past life I spent some time working away from home on the US Air Force hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany.  The Orthopaedic department was the place I found myself for five days of each week.  The team consisted of 4 surgeons, 4 cast room technicians and 2 brace-shop technicians on another floor.  We worked closely with the neurosurgeons who had offices close by.  One of the orthopaedic surgeons and myself were the only civilian members of staff.

I quickly learned that fresh percolated coffee was available all day every day in the cast room.  The first member of staff to arrive in the morning filled the large coffee urn and set it running for the morning.  Being a team player I took my turn at making the coffee.  This usually led to teasing about having ‘Irish coffee’ that day.

I promised that one day I would make real Irish coffee.

Back then, any American dinner guests seemed to think I finished dinner every evening with Irish coffee.  One Thursday night three of my colleagues were coming to my place for dinner.  I was going away late on Friday for a long weekend in Austria.  The lads usually brought wine or a bottle of spirits to go along with my cooking.  On this particular occasion they brought 1 pint of cream & a bottle of Irish Mist for their after dinner drink.  Goodness there were only four of us for dinner and I already had sufficient cream and Irish whiskey at the ready.  What on earth was I going to do…

On Friday morning this here bag lady headed for work with my weekend bag, and another much larger one containing the unopened cream, a bottle of whiskey, brown sugar, my half dozen Irish coffee glasses, a hand held electric mixer and a bowl for the cream.  I was the first to arrive so I put the cream into the fridge and set the urn on to percolate.  Each Friday we finished at 4 pm and when the work of the day was done we often gathered in one of the offices for a drink and a wind down chat.  The staff on call for the evening were only allowed a non alcoholic drink and the rule was always strictly observed.  

As I was trying to find cupboard space to store my coffee making equipment, I was aware of a friendly shuffle of feet behind me.

“Whats in the bag?” asked Gary, the Head of Department, in his Texan drawl.

“I promised that one day I would make Irish Coffee, so today is the day,” I said. “Once we finish for the day, I will set things going.”

Gary beamed from ear to ear, so I moved off to set about my daily routine. 

Supplies grew like magic in the hours between lunchtime and 4 p.m.  These guys had no idea of proportions, or so I thought…

A fresh urn of coffee was set to percolate as soon as the last patient was ushered out the door.  I whipped the cream and set out my six Irish Coffee glasses.  The lads were very anxious to know how I would get the cream to float on the top and not run down into the coffee.  There is an art to it!

Just as I was ready to begin, the lads crowed around me to watch the action.  I was aware of the door opening at regular intervals and the clatter as coffee mugs were set on the counter.  My first effort worked like magic and the cream sat like a dream on top of the coffee.  A dozen hands were held out to me for this first glass.  The longest arm won and I continued with my task in hand, soon the glasses were all used up, so it was on to coffee mugs. This meant that I could speed the process as nobody could tell if the cream was sinking a little!

All the while, I was facing the wall as I worked. I heard the voices and banter but only saw a face when I held out a full cup of coffee.  I realised that the hands reaching out for coffee were from other departments in the hospital.  The coffee beakers were running out so I was handed a bundle of Styrofoam cups (sacrilege in my book) to fill with the next batch.  I slowed up, these were lighter and I didn’t want any accidents or wastage.  Once satisfied, I held out the first filled Styrofoam cup of Irish coffee.  

I had not turned round.  

This voice was unknown to me. The “Thank you Maam!” was warm, friendly and accompanied by the click of well polished heels!

Turning with a smile I noticed the Four Star Colonel insignia on the epaulets.  I bowed my head slightly as I said “You are welcome Sir!”

It was an hour before I learned that the Four Star Colonel was the new big chief for the hospital who had only taken up his duties that day!

At least he got a warm Irish CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE!

I’m surprised Grannymar didn’t have a job for life considering she was keeping what sounds like the whole base happy, all the way up to the colonel.

But the mystery remains. Has anyone any ideas as to the identity of this colonel? And what happened to him afterwards? The events took about 1971 – so that’s a clue.

Thanks for your story Grannymar and the lesson in getting the weekend started with a swing.

For her glittering prize Grannymar has chosen a copy of … I don’t know yet. Still waiting to hear.

You too can enter the The Day I Met… competition. The rules are here. Basically it’s a story of when you met a celeb of some sort – if it was a funny or calamitous encounter all the better. You can read past entries by clicking on the links below:

There’ll be another The Day I Met… next Wednesday, and other things in the meantime, so drop back then or before. And get in touch – I’d like to hear your own story of a celeb encounter. Just email me at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com

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16 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, The Day I Met... Competition

16 responses to “The Day I Met… the Colonel

  1. Ursula

    Irish Coffee will never taste the same again. Brigadier General John Mayo Talbot, June 1971. What happend to him afterwards? Who knows. With GM’s coffee cruising through his veins he retired in 1973. Now he is dead.

    U

    • blackwatertown

      It took you no time at all to track him down. I was hoping someone would, but didn’t expect it to be so fast. I am impressed.

  2. Spent an hour at a luncheon for 150 with Nixon and heard his speech and got an autograph. It was at a mini off election year convention at the Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach in 1965. I shook hands with him again in the rope line at Tampa airport in 1968 and at the rope line at Miami airport in 1972. In ’73 I wrote him asking to be appointed as Secretary of the Treasury. The rotten creep never answered my letter. So much for being good ol’ friends, eh?

  3. Paul, thank you for allowing me to take part. As the first comment proves, there is no hiding place on the internet! All ‘hidden’ identities can be blown out of the water.

    • Grannymar, there is no hiding place anywhere. Never was. Before the internet it was just more time consuming to find out whatever takes your fancy. My father was an investigative journalist/reporter in his twenties – for one of the most notorious magazines to “uncover” the undesirable; undesirable mostly to politicians, the country’s history. In those days it was legwork, wit, charm, no doubt some cunning and baksheesh to get you the info. But get it you did.

      Anyway, to my shame, considering that I only live an hour’s flight away, I have not yet made it to Ireland. When I will I’ll let you know – maybe you will froth up some Irish Coffee for me (I’ll bring the ingredients). May I say that whilst I miss your “craft day” – was it Tuesdays? I enjoy the continuing tour round Ireland you give your readers. It’s one thing to read a guide book, another to get the personal touch.

      No doubt you will know the odious quote on Irish Coffee and its four ingredients. If not: Google is but a click away.

      U

    • blackwatertown

      Thanks for the story. And yes, Ursula has just given us an object lesson.

  4. Thank you Grannymar, for a titillating story. A “friendly thank you, click of the heels” from a Four Star General — word o’ mouth spread fast about your great Irish coffee.

  5. I Would the Recipe For Your Drink!

  6. Grannymar, that sure was a great story and you told it so well, I could practically smell and taste it!

  7. Irish Coffeeeeeeeeeeee — oh, I just loved reading your story Grannymar!

  8. Bob

    Awesome.
    Thanks.

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