Some simple stories are hard to explain, and some things in life, like true love, is just meant to be.
Shamrock seemed a strange nickname for a feisty little French girl married to a sergeant on base. The small coffee shop beneath the tower at Beale AFB was her domain. She had a quip for everything and it was easy to tell that all the GIs and flight crews that came in just adored her. Some guys, after a long flight or mission, would just come in to be cheered up by Shamrock and to wind down before they went home.
I recognized the dads of several of my friends and would talk to a few. One came in from a long flight in a T-33 from Georgia to be delighted by a treat from her. He loved sauerkraut juice and she had saved a whole jar for him. His son had a red ’32 Ford coupe that was the pride of the base that he had built using General LeMay’s auto hobby shop he had on every SAC base. LeMay was also a car nut.
The Cuban Missile Crisis had me trapped on base. Dad’s retirement had been frozen so we could not move on with our plans of a new home and a college education. A job was open as a bus boy at the Serviceman’s Club so I went down to make a buck or two while we did the usual hurry up and wait with International politics.
After working there for several months, they sent me out to the base operations coffee shop on the flight line. I too was smitten by Shamrock’s ways. She made no bones about her running a taught ship. She told me how she wanted each thing cleaned and admonished me to never go near her steam table. She did all the cooking and only she could touch her steam table.
For those rare few out there that have not worked fast food, cleaning a steam table is a physically demanding job. The steel top must be scoured with a block of lava stone until it shines. Shamrock and her 90 pound frame had to stand on tip toes to reach the back. Her feet would often leave the floor as she leaned on the block with both hands but the job got done right. Every day it was done right.
That Friday she asked how I wanted my steak and we had a nice lunch after the crowd had left. We closed for the week-ends so she had to clean out the meat locker on Fridays. We sometimes sold steak to the guys that came in but most just came for a quick bite or just coffee. She made sure every Friday a couple would need to be “thrown out.” To this day, I still prefer French fries and gravy with my steak. Life was good with Shamrock.
One day I came in very down and she immediately noticed. It was before opening so she put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. I told her that the great girl I met in high school had to go to another base and it really hurt to see her go. She was special and Shamrock knew who I was talking about in detail. She even knew her dad because he was the tower chief upstairs. He had already transferred and his daughter now had to follow.
Shamrock looked me right in the eyes and said to sit down. Her voice was deep and soft just like only the French can do. She wanted us to be at the same level when she told me what she had to say.” Remember me for what I am going to tell you will not happen for a while.” She then explained very quietly that she had somehow realized she had the clairvoyant ability to see into the future.
If I had not respected her so much from being with her every day and watching everything she did and said, I would have turned her off on the spot. She had never said anything like this to anybody when I was around. She carried no mystical airs nor wore hoop ear rings so I just sat and listened.
“Some day in the future, I can not say when, you will be with her again.”
“I am serious. Remember me and remember what I am telling you.”
“Some day you will be with that woman again.”
Then we put on our aprons and unlocked the doors. The coffee shop filled with noise and laughter from Shamrock’s chiding the customers with her endless quips.
I go home that night still in a confused state and, in time, continued my life, dad’s retirement, college, career, kids and divorce.
It was over 40 years later I get an email after registering on Classmates for our high school reunion. .
It was not Shamrock, it was the girl! She had been loking for me for several years.
It was Kay and we were married in six months.
Shamrock, wherever you are, we remember you.