Grand Opening

Drying Out
Cooks’ Hooch on Hill 65

Sunday, January 26, 1969

Today was the big day:  the grand opening of the new staff club.  Gunny Pavelcek’s inspiration had taken a full three weeks to build.  The idea was to let the “peons” enjoy the enlisted club while the staff could relax in a separate environment.  Drinking was the common theme.

There was no glassware, and shots were hand poured by the Gunny into our canteen cups.  I ordered a shot of Bacardi on ice and added my own ration of Coke to the mix.  Others were drinking Boilermakers with beer as a chaser.  Top called it a “Two Step” (a Texas shot and a beer).  Shots sold for 50 cents MPC, the proceeds would buy more stock.

We decided to hold our weekly staff meeting in the club, rather than impose on the personal quarters of the staff hooch.  The red glow of the silk oil lamp helped adjust our night vision; when the meeting was over, we could easily negotiate our way outside with the first quarter moon overhead.

As a short timer on Hill 65, my priorities were changing.  For me, it was an occasion to wrap things up.  Many Marines just drove away in the dust cloud of a convoy and never looked back or said goodbye.  I wanted to have a conversation with friends and talk about our future plans.  For some (like the Gunny) there was no plan.  He was a Lifer and committed to the Corps; he would go wherever they sent him — this was his future.  His purpose was to make the best of his current situation . . . one day at a time.

Next Edition:  The White Rainbow

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