Saturday, January 21, 2012

Maraschino Evil

When my folks were back in town for Christmas, Mom told me this story about her father, The Storyteller.

As you may have read in the past, my grandpa was one of my earliest role models; a lighthearted merry prankster and premier teller of funny and often times true stories.  After watching him kill yet another room full of jaded adults, I’d always think, “That’s the guy I want to be.”

This story took place during World War II.  One of Grandpa’s brothers was stationed in the Pacific, building shit with the Seabees.  One of the provisions, though, was “no booze.”

I always thought the alcohol prohibitions were for the Middle East, so I guess you learn something new every day.

Anyway, in letters home, his brother lamented the inability to get a good drink.  Grandpa wanted to help, but obviously couldn’t ship him a big crate of liquor.  So he devised a work-around.  He sent them maraschino cherries instead.

The Navy passed the cherries straight through to Grandpa’s brother.  One full case of maraschino cherries… could be the harm in that?    

What the Navy didn't know was that Grandpa had poured out all the cherry juice from each bottle, replaced it with bourbon and packed it up again.  Mom said she’d never forget the sight of her dad, surrounded by cherry bottles, draining each of the little bottles and painstakingly pouring in the bourbon. 

Now that’s how you Support the Troops!  Beats the hell out of just slapping a ribbon magnet on your car, doesn’t it?

The Army commanders eventually realized that their men were getting loaded, but never figured out how they did it… defeated by a good brother with a little Italian-American ingenuity.

22 comments:

  1. That was utterly brilliant! And what those men in the Pacific theatre had to endure was horrific. I bet those guys loved your gramps for that one.

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    1. I'm sure he was saluted with every pour. Most popular guy in the platoon... "Saaaal-ute!"

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  2. Now that is hilarious. I can't wait to share that story with Mark. Sounds like something there family would do.

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    1. Where there's a will, there's a way, especially when there's good hootch at stake.

      And if there was anyone that deserved a drink, it's those dudes stationed in that hellhole that was the Pacific theater in WWII.

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  3. Now there's a man after my own heart! What a thoughtful and loving brother!

    I can tie a cherry stem into a knot in my mouth with my tongue. I found out recently that it's a genetic thing.

    My Heathen shirt was a big hit at the board meeting, and while I was speaking, no one dared to interrupt! Thanks again, Bluz!

    YEEHAH

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    1. Genetics are one thing... you still have to have the directions, don't you? I have no idea if I can do that trick, because I don't have the slightest idea how it's done.

      I have other stories that might relate my tongue to a cherry, but that's not for this venue.

      The Heathen Shirt commands silence?? Man, I'm going to have to wear mine to work!

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  4. That, is brilliant. Hopefully I can do something that hilarious and clever one day.

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    1. You're young... you still have plenty of time. Don't sell yourself short!

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  5. Oh this is fantastic! How genius! I always loved to eat the cherries out of my step dad's manhattans.

    That's a proper way to support those troops!

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    1. Leave it to you to home in on the cherry-eating angle. That was big for me too.

      When we were little kids, Grandpa would mix us “drinks” like the grownups had… only ours would just be ginger ale with some grenadine, but always with a maraschino cherry. He always had the cherries, which as you clearly remember, were just delicious. Sometimes we could con him into putting a couple extra ones in there. But he got even with our little asses by stealing spoonfuls of our ice cream after dinner.

      “Hey, what’s the canary doing?”

      [Grandkid turns head as Grandpa nabs a spoon of butter pecan from our bowl.]

      He always said our ice cream tasted better than his.

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  6. HOLY CRAP! Did Blogger finally make it possible to reply to comments? Uh-mazing!

    This story reminds me of the episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" where Charlie empties out jam jars in the middle of a supermarket in order to fill them with box wine so he could more easily shoplift the alcohol. Obviously I like your grandpa's version better, though, because you get the booze AND the boozy cherries out of it.

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    1. Oh yeah, the little liquored up cherry bombs must have been a big hit too. In fact, I may have to try that sometime.

      Yes, I’m so happy Blogger finally enabled individual comment replies. Unfortunately I now end up padding my comment totals, because I used to put multiple replies into one comment. So now when I want to evaluate how good my post is by the number of comments received, I have to remember to divide the number in half.

      I hate math.

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  7. What a great story. I love it! I can't even imagine what those soldiers went through? Some spiked cherries is the least we could do. :)

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    1. Agreed… stationed on those hellhole islands, few supplies, daily rounds of bombs dropping on their heads, those fellas deserved a good stiff drink once in awhile.

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  8. Ah-ha! Now I see that your genius does not fall far from the family tree.

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    1. Ain't that the truth? Grandpa was a real scamp.

      After I posted this story, my dad reminded me of a similar situation with my brother.

      When he was a freshman at OSU and living in the dorm, they weren't allowed to have alcohol in their rooms. The RAs would check every package they brought in, so sneaking beer in was challenging.

      What they did to get around this beer blockade was to get quarter-barrels (or "pony kegs"), box them up, and have them shipped to themselves via UPS. The RAs were not allowed to search the mail.

      Instant kegger. Then they'd take the empties out in the same box. No one thought to search the outgoing boxes.

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  9. What a great story, Bluz! Your Grandpa sounds like a treasure. I also love your story above about the "instant kegger"! You got a million stories, Bluz, that just keep us coming back for more. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cher.

      I just worry that I’m going to run out. I have to start rationing out my stories now or else my well is going to dry up. But is sure helps to have come from a family loaded with eccentrics!

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  10. Good idea - it sounds like something a teenager would come up with - we used to sneak liquor in MANY imaginative ways back in the day.

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  11. Perhaps you’d like to share? I’m always looking for tips. I promise… your kids won’t look here. Your rep is safe.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but my Dad wanted to see it again… he used to smuggle brandy into Browns/Steelers games in Cleveland buy using “bar-noculars,” meaning hollowed out flasks that looked like binoculars. The lens caps screwed off and functioned as shot glasses. It never failed, no matter how stringently we were searched.

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