I ran into Augie the other day. Augie and I go way back. Augie, by the way, is short for Augustus Matthews Buford Fuller. How he got that name is another entirely different story. We were in the Army together way back in the early 70’s and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Nowadays, he lives back up in the woods (you know, so far back they have to pump sunshine in and moonshine out) so he does not get into town very often. When he does come to town, he calls me and we meet at the coffee shop and visit for awhile. Augie is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he’s a good fella. He works hard and never takes a dime he hasn’t earned.
Well, we were having coffee the other Saturday and Augie was telling old Army stories. He was joking that he knew enough never to get on the bad side of the company clerk, the cook, or the mail clerk. He thought of that because of the time he got sideways with our cook. See, Augie was a mechanic in the Army and a good one. He could fix near anything. Well, the cook got hold of Augie one day because the mess truck was broke. It’s kind of hard to feed soldiers if the truck’s broke. Augie was busy but told the cook he would be over as soon as he could. That turned into three hours and that made everybody mad. Supper was late for the whole battery and that made Augie very unpopular.
Well, on this particular training exercise, lunch each day was C-rations. That’s the food the Army used to hand out in a small box. It contained dark green cans of various things that were rumored to be edible. That’s the claim though I think it might be disputed by many a veteran. Anyway, the cook would take out all the meat cans and put them in a steel trash can full of water that had a heater in it. He would heat these cans up and soldiers would line up whereupon the cook would grab one out with tongs and pass them out. A lucky draw would result in a can of spaghetti and meat balls or beans and weenies. If one got on the cook’s bad side, the draw would be something called ham and chicken loaf. It’s kind of hard to describe ham and chicken loaf. Try to imagine the stuff they reject at a dog food factory. That does not begin to paint a picture of how bad this stuff looked and tasted. Many a soldier went without a meal to avoid the gastronomical disaster that awaited anybody who ate this stuff. Well, Augie’s punishment for his tardiness in fixing the mess truck was ham and chicken loaf for SEVEN straight days.
I asked him what he had learned from those seven days of culinary abuse. He thought about that for a long time. Finally, he said, “Well, I reckon I ought to take care of them that take care of me.”
Augie’s a pretty smart ole fella. We’ll talk to Augie again soon I hope.