Thurman P. Woodfork


‘Pappy’ Fontaine and me: Mount Pani, Spain
Here’s ‘Pappy’ Fontaine and me with a friendly young Spanish airman outside the mess hall on Mount Pani. I look quite the unruffled gentleman, don’t I? The Spanish airman looks like a member of the Junior Luftwaffe. Their uniforms were modeled after that of the Germans, who had helped Franco during the Spanish Civil War. I believe their current uniforms look more like those of the U.S. Air Force.

‘Rosie’ and Friends
Rosie is the guy standing on the left in the group of three, with the San Miguel beer in his right hand. The young man on the right holding the bottle of Bacardi rum is William A. McLaughlin, III, who had a great tenor singing voice. Mac was trip; he figured those famed Latin Lovers didn’t have a thing on him. The guy standing in the middle is a Native American, whose name and tribe I’ve forgotten.
It just seems to me that just about everywhere I was stationed, there seemed to be three guys who hung out together with one another more than with anyone else. I remember an incident in Spain when one of my friends tried to calm me down when I thought I had lost a ring my girlfriend had given me.

We were in the snack bar on the ground floor of the Bar Pan Am on Barcelona’s Ramblas when I discovered that I was no longer wearing the ring, Unfortunately, I was wearing a snootful, and became quite agitated at the loss of the ring. The counterman got smart with me and suddenly found himself hoisted over the counter, with my friend, Rosie, climbing up my back trying to get me to put him down. ‘Pappy’ Fontaine, the third member of our triumvirate – nicknamed ‘Pappy’ because he was an ancient old man of thirty-something – wasn’t present, so Dave was stuck with trying to restrain me by himself. For some reason, nobody seemed to want to help him.

The upshot of it was that Rosie did get me to release the counterman relatively unharmed. Fortunately for all concerned, he hadn’t tried to put up a fight, so I just shook him a few times without really harming him and finally put him down. Once I let the guy go, Rosie hastily dragged me off. Later, when he got me to a room and I pulled my sweater off over my head, the ring fell on the floor. I had apparently taken it off for some reason and tried to put it in my shirt pocket, missed, and it fell down to a fold in the sweater at my waist, or it had come out of my pocket when I was playing upsy-daisy with the counterman, and gotten caught in the folds of the sweater.

At any rate, Rosie, or Dave – his name is Roosevelt David – said when the ring fell out, that was the second time he considered slugging me. The first time was when he thought I was going to throttle the counterman and we’d both wind up in one of Franco’s juzgados charged with murder. He didn’t hit me because he was worried he wouldn’t knock me out and I’d really get pissed. Rosie had boxed Golden Gloves, but he was smaller than I, and he was afraid I was too angry to go down from one punch. He didn’t want to get into a fistfight with me.

Pappy, when he heard about it, thought the whole thing was hilarious, as did Isabel, who had given me the notorious ring in the first place. It was a heavy gold ring with the silhouette of a Roman centurion embossed in black onyx for a setting. She said our gold jewelry was cheap because it was lighter in color and heft than the gold the Spaniards used for their jewelry. I no longer remember what the difference in karat weight was. She couldn’t believe I had lost my temper over a misplaced ring. Rosie had been frantic because he had known me for a couple of years, and he too, had never seen me angry about anything. It shook him up when I suddenly became so agitated.

Pappy, Dave, and I also embarked on a tour of Spain, and had a fine time until we ran out of money and had to cut our vacation short and return to the site. This is what I was talking about a while ago when I said it was to a visitor’s benefit to learn the language of a country he was planning to spend a considerable amount of time in. All three of us could speak Spanish fairly well, and we were free to move about the country on our own without guides.

This piece was prompted by the poem, “Brothers Three” ~ ©Copyright May 31, 2007 by Terry D. Sutherland