I first saw the light of day in the autumn season of 1937. The Great Depression was not fully behind us, so I’m told, and World War II had yet to begun. Of course, time would pass before I became aware of the impending war. No doubt, the situation looming over my horizon became more personal when my uncles were called before the draft board. A host of things were added to the rationing list, which went largely unnoticed.
Then coffee was added to the rationing list. That, too, might have gone unnoticed had there not been so much chatter about it.
I was about six years old when it became obvious that I was missing something.
It wasn’t often that my mother shared her precious commodity with me. Even then, I’m certain it was heavily diluted with water and milk.
One Christmas my Uncle Glenn came home on leave from Occupied Germany. We still didn’t own a car, so we hiked through the snow to meet the Greyhound – about two miles by the time we returned to our apartment.
Mom fixed coffee for herself and Uncle Glenn. For me it was hot chocolate. I wanted coffee, and I must have been vocal about it, because after more than 70 years his startled expression is still a vivid memory.
“We don’t get much hot chocolate in Germany. Trade you!” And then he switched our cups.
His coffee was strong enough to cross my eyes, nothing like I expected. And I’m sure he saw my reaction
Adding insult to injury, so to speak, he greatly exaggerated each swallow of my hot chocolate, smacking his lips. He carried on so, that even I, a six-year-old, realized I’d been had.