About Coffee

I was sharing some memories with Kate recently, and once again she said, “You need to  write about that!”  So, here we go again, wandering through the dark recesses of my memory corridors, peering into pigeonholes. The subject was coffee, and I was boring her with a story telling her about how I came to be a drinker of black coffee. I have related parts of this story before, but maybe it’ll be ok to re-visit the subject.
Way back in 1961, when I graduated from high school, we were living in Elkhart, Kansas, and shortly after graduation I jumped into my 1953 Ford and headed for Eagle Nest, New Mexico.  My mother knew a couple of ladies who owned cabins in that part of the world (The Moreno Valley), and these ladies were starting a curio/gift shop, and agreed to board me for awhile. Somehow, my mother had lined up a job for me, too, at the Laguna Vista Lodge in Eagle Nest. The building the ladies had rented was at oEagle Nest 2014ne time a gas station, but it looked ok for what they wanted to do with it.  Part of the building was a dusty old garage, and some of the time I slept in the garage, and some of the time I stayed at one of their cabins.  My work at the Lodge started out to be as a waiter, but after about one afternoon, the boss lady came to me and said, “You know, I think you’d be a great dishwasher!”  So, I re-located into the kitchen area.
I must apologize, but all my memories don’t come to me in perfect order, so I’ll have to relate them as they appear on my main memory screen, ok?
LagunaVista.Weiser.07-03So, I worked for awhile at the Lodge, meeting new people – some of those new people were young Hispanic men who were graduates of the New Mexico Boys School (read: reform school), and they knew more of life than I, a green kid from Kansas.  Often, if I happened to see them after hours they’d be carrying a quart-size (liter size?) bottle of Coors around with them.  I had been ‘straight arrow’ all through high school and had never even tasted beer.  Yes, it’s true!  One of the young men was trying to further my education in other areas, and he made mention of a pretty female he knew who lived in Cimarron, New Mexico, about 25 miles away, who had things to teach me.  I wasn’t clear on what those things might be, but I elected not to find out.  One of his little sayings, which he used when I again turned down his offer of female companionship, was, “If you change your mind, just say the word, Thunderbird!” I remained ignorant.
Not long after, another job offer came along, and I bid adieu to my stalwart companions at the Laguna Vista Lodge and went over to Horseshoe Camp.
Horseshoe Camp was a combination kind of place.  My duties would be to pump gas, fix flats (using two flat pieces of metal and a mallet), rent out cabins, sell groceries, and sell fishing tackle. The other folks there were the owner, Walter Dahl, and his wife.  And me.  I would be working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, all summer, for the princely sum of $300.  Not a bad wage for those times.  84 hours a week seemed a bit much, but the rest of the time was mine!  🙂  Hey, I was 17, no problem!
So, when I changed jobs, I changed my living arrangements, too.  My work day at Horseshoe Camp was from 5AM until 5PM, and it often proved to be difficult to make it down the mountain from the cabin in time to open up at 5AM.  So, I found a place to live that was basically a stone’s throw from my work, and it only cost me $1 a day.  It was a small cabin which was part of a group of tourist cabins that no longer functioned as a motel.  There was power to the cabin, but no water.  The cabins were arranged in a semi-circle, and the shower room/restroom was in a building in the center of this arrangement.  I had a hotplate, at least, to warm up whatever food I wanted to bring in, but I don’t think there was a refrigerator.
The elevation of Eagle Nest, New Mexico is about 8400 feet, and it gets kinda nippy in the morning, even in the summertime, and I decided I’d follow the lead of all the other locals I observed, and I’d start drinking hot coffee.coffee_percolator_9_cup  I bought a little percolator and made coffee on my hotplate.  It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the taste of black coffee (I decided to just keep it simple, so I wouldn’t have to buy sugar and creamer), but before long I learned to like it.  And, yes, I still drink it black.

One response to “About Coffee

  1. KItty Forsythe

    I wanted to let you know how my husband learned to drink his coffee black. His family always took theirs with about 3 drops of milk…just enough to tame the taste a little. He started drinking coffee when he was growing up in a coal town in Pennsylvania, and continued through 20 years in the Army. We met after he retired and married in 1968. My son was 7 when we moved to the country here in Harrison County. He was at the age when he was ALWAYS hungry, and always in the kitchen getting something/anything to eat. Bob always made “GI coffee”, which is ground coffee in cold water and boiled ’til it’s dead! Once when Jeff was making a deck of peanut butter jelly sandwiches, Bob asked if he’d pour a cup of coffee for him. Jeff said, “Sure. How do you take it?” Bob told him to just add a few drops of milk. That happened quite often over the next few months, and every time Jeff asked, “How do you take it”. After about 173 times, Bob told him, “Black, Jeff…just plain black!” And he drank it that way until his death in 2003. Evidently, that stuck with Jeff because he’s the only one in the family who takes his coffee that way now…black, Jeff, just plain black!!

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