Drinking With Grandpa On Veterans Day

Drinking With Grandpa
J.D. Brayton
In 1972, two days after my eighteenth birthday, I went north from Florida to Rhode Island to visit my grandparents in Riverside, Rhode Island. My father, George JR.; (whom they called Sonny) was dead by that time. Grandpa still mourned his only son.
“Grandpa, I’m eighteen now- and I’m old enough to drink. Let’s go to the club.”
The sign read ‘Riverside Sportsman Club- Private- Members only’. The six old Vets sat drinking at the bar in the middle of the afternoon. They all looked up as I, a baby-faced hippie kid with long hair halfway down to my ass, walked in with my grandpa.
Grandpa was quiet as he sipped his beer. After his third, he gargled;
“Y’oughta be signed up fer the service, kid, if yeer eighteen,.”
The effects of all the beer made me bold enough to sass him back.
“So I gotta go to Viet Nam to serve my country?”
“Hell, yes –“y’do yer duty!” barked Kenny the barkeep, polishing glass. My grandfather’s coughing kept him from being able to speak. He nodded an affirmative and pointed at the flag.
“Isn’t that why all you guys fought WW2? –so I wouldn’t know what war was like? Right Grandpa? Didn’t you guys suffer so dumb-ass kids like me would never know? Wasn’t that the idea?”
Grandpa George looked up at me from his bar stool. The others in the bar grew silent. One old Vet rose slowly to leave. It wasn’t until he stepped into the full light and faced me that I noticed his left sleeve was pinned at the shoulder. He smiled down at me.
“He’s gotta point they-uh, George. He’s Sonny’s boy alright.”

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