I suppose a lot of the guys on Midway liked to party. My dad certainly did. In 1968, he was about 26 and he worked at the power plant. The power plant to my eyes was a mysterious place, full of eerie sounds. It seems to me, on the occasions that I went there, I stood in the center of a room and tried not to touch anything in it. But I’m not sure about that memory. Unlike some of my others, being inside the plant is very hazy.
As I mentioned, my dad liked to party. He was a drinker before we got to Midway, while we were on Midway, and after we left Midway. It was often his habit to head straight from work to the club. My mother had her hands full with five kids, of which I was the eldest. And since I was the eldest, I would sometimes ride my horse down to the Acey Duecey Club and bring him home. I didn’t do it all the time, just occasionally. But I remember it well.
I would leave my horse at the back door and walk into a loud room filled with smoke and music and laughter. To a four year old, it was like being in the land of giants. The men were all dressed in dungarees and blue shirts. They looked so similar, and the place was so crowded, that I could never find my dad right away.
It never took too long before one of the guys would notice me, usually because I tugged on the wrong shirt. The men were always very nice. In fact, they seemed delighted when one of us kids showed up. (I was not the only one on the island to perform this ritual.)
Once they knew I was there, one of them would invariably scoop me up and stand me on the corner of the bar, where the bartender would then shout–“ALRIGHT! WE GOT ONE! WHERE’S DAD?”
And I felt proud and safe when my dad appeared to claim me. One time, I guess he must have felt especially jolly. He let me stay and taught me how to shoot pool. I could barely see over the table, so somebody produced a chair for me to stand on. The guys cheered every shot I made, good or bad. I drank coke that tasted very weird. But I was thirsty, so I ignored the strange flavor and gulped it down. Years later, when I had my first coke and whiskey, I flashed back to that time on Midway and recognized it instantly for what it had been. And I laughed and laughed….