Soapsuds Hollow: First cup of coffee lingers decades later
January 21. 2014 10:44AM
On cold winter mornings, many of us need an extra cup of coffee to get ourselves going. The aroma makes way for a sip of steaming brew, and one sip just seems to lead to another.
Sharing a cup of coffee is a social ritual. When the Bowling Alley is closed on Monday mornings, the Dressen boys and the rest of the Dells Bowl regulars find their way to County Fair and visit over coffee. The round table at T&C's is another popular spot for morning coffee, and the conversation in there is beyond fun.
Dennis Holles and I like to take walks and share a cup of coffee as we reminisce about real estate back in the good old days, current happenings in town, Froke, the military, and whatever else might come up. We never seem to be lacking for conversation. The walks are short, but the time goes quickly while at Jab's.
I became a coffee drinker when I was about 15 years old. I was working for Uncle Fritz, and was at the point where I was riding along with the guys to the job sites. I was more or less a gopher, although the extra pair of hands was sometimes a necessity for those guys.
There was a new house being built out on the hill behind the Renberg School, and Fritz would send me along with Bob Lamberty so we could rough-in the plumbing and heating. Although summer vacation had begun, the mornings were still chilly sometimes. When it came time for morning break, we would sit down with Irv Skatvold and Conrad Opoien. They would all break out their thermos bottles and snacks. The 15-year-old kid didn't pack a thermos or snacks, but Bob took care of him.
Bob would remove the cover from his thermos and pour some coffee into it for me so that I could warm up. He also made sure that I got at least one cookie – Carolyn always packed some cookies for Bob. I didn't shiver to death on those cool mornings, thanks to Bob.
I've heard many people say that Bob is the best boilerman ever. I've watched him fix many boilers and furnaces. "It's the orifice," he might say to me. Or, "Let's check the anticipation." It was fun watching him do his magic.
He was also a good plumber. "Grab the spoons and crackers. We're going on a sewer call," he would tell me with a smile. We might have to fit some cast iron sewer pipes together, which was always a challenge. We would pack the okre around the joint and pour in the molten lead, and move on to the next job.
We didn't always see eye-to-eye back then. He was a veteran of the Korean War, and I was a longhaired, rebellious high school kid.
Those differences don't matter anymore, and weren't that important anyway at the time, as I look back.
Enjoying my coffee usually makes me think of that summer.
Thanks, Bob! I'll always appreciate the kindness you showed to that shivering kid.