Two are recovering newspaper reporters, one has had his head chopped off by a helicopter rotor, and a third has earned his daily bread telling various levels of truth on behalf of a commercial enterprise that shall here remain nameless. Another is a former college professor bearing a deeply-rooted allegiance to the notion that dogs hold the keys to the universe.
Wednesdays, a similar assemblage gathers for breakfast at a local establishment – currently in each of our own homes –with similar intent to the Tuesday session. We’re old guys, it’s true, but we talk about current political and social happenings, from several sides of the political and social sphere.
Memory stirs of a similar group of which I was a proud member in the mid-1970s, on an island about halfway out the Aleutian Islands chain. In some ways, being on Adak was like being in a pandemic in a small town of about 8,000 people. Yes, we could – and can – leave the house, but we could not go far, embraced as we were by the Bering Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south.
It was the middle of the Citizens Band radio craze, which members of a certain age will recall was when thousands, if not millions, of citizens bought mostly vehicle-mounted radios, and pretended to be truckers pretending to be someone they weren’t. Like the Internet with a microphone where a keyboard would later fill our hands.
Occasionally, we would meet in person for a mostly impromptu event called a Coffee Break, at which the liquid being imbibed often was made from beans grown by Juan Valdez (a fictional Colombian coffee grower). One night, about 1 a.m., someone called out to the airwaves, “Coffee Break as Frog’s house.” A half-dozen or so of us converged upon “Frog’s” abode. His wife was not pleased.
There was “Honey Dipper,” who drove an old – even then – Jeep Cherokee and maintained the town’s wastewater treatment facility. “MisterSsippi” hailed from Mississippi, and was not to be confused with his spouse, not called MissusSippi, but who paused during a string of bowling to birth the couple’s fourth young’un.
There were “Sparks” and “Colorado Papa” (self-proclaimed the oldest among us) and “Little Round Man” and “Treebeard” and “Kitten” – the latter two being yours truly and spouse,she who was somewhat put off when she turned 30 two years and five days before I, and I saluted the fact on my country music radio (broadcast, not CB) show.
Motor vehicles were forbidden in the tundra, but on the edges of town were a sand cliff for hill-climbing and a few mud puddles in which to mire one southerner’s Blazer. Away from town were Barren Ground caribou, World War II Quonset hits in a broad state of disrepair, and hills that would, if not carefully watched, shift position to confuse the nimrod hiker.
Out of that milieu was born the Tundra-Runnin’ Drift Busters & Bourbon-Slurpin’ Ratchet Jaws CB Un-club, a loosely connected consort of sportsfolk and, forgive the redundancy, prevaricators who gathered far too often to talk about the affairs of the world within and without our little water-walled microcosm.
The rules, then as now, were to call an occasional Coffee Break during which the ills of the world would be put on hold. We would pour a “little tetch” to smooth the conversation (though not enough to hinder it) and do absolutely nothing deliberate about anything.
A sound foundation on which to base our current travails, methinks.
Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please take a moment to share.