Did we sometimes… um… get a little wild when we were young? Pittsburgh’s Tim Menees, who became a professional newspaper op-ed cartoonist, remembers one episode for BoomerCafé because it came on St. Patrick’s Day, 1968.
After cheering presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy when he walked past us in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, we returned to our apartment to host a party that night. It would end abruptly.
The four of us young military officers— two Army, one Navy, one Air Force (me), were renting a two-bedroom rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side. It was in an old stone building with a courtyard and open stone corridors. It cost $200 a month. Total.
Just before graduation from officers’ training school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, my classmates and I got our orders for our next assignments. This was during the war in Vietnam and many were heading to flight school, some at Amarillo AFB (Joke: “There’s a girl behind every tree, except there aren’t any trees.”)
I was heading for the Air Force version of the Navy’s NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) in Manhattan, and I don’t mean Kansas. Our training officer, a captain, tried to be comforting when I heard he was sending me to New York and said, “Mr. Menees, I’m sorry.” He was typical military, preferring to live on base with its housing, commissary, hospital, PX, clubs, schools, and ball fields. But I thought: Are you crazy? I’m young, single, and heading for New York City where there are girls.
I said, “Yes, sir.”
Our St. Pat’s party kicked off around eight. The guests were other young officers and their girlfriends or wives. We started on the drinks, pretzels, chips, and cheese. We put on music— the Stones, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel. Chit-chat ramped up to singing “Satisfaction” and dancing and Stu putting the Simon & Garfunkel album cover on his head like a miter and blessing us all.
Around eleven, we all got loud, but it was Saturday night, St. Paddy’s Day, the city was bathed in green.
Knock knock KNOCK KNOCK.
We cut the sound, Stu took off the album cover, and I opened the door. An NYPD patrolman was standing outside. He said, “Hey, guys, I know it’s St. Pat’s, but you gotta to turn down the sound, OK?”
I said, “Yes, officer, thanks for letting us know.”
We put the Stones back on to more drinks, more dancing, more volume, and more singing. Stu put on the Simon & Garfunkel album cover again.
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!
This was not a friendly “Hey, guys” knock.
The music stopped, the miter came off. Now the patrolman had two cops as backup. He said, “Cut the noise and I mean now, or we’re taking you downtown!”
We’d seen the old movies about cops loading miscreants into paddy wagons and taking them downtown and we wanted no part of “downtown,” especially if we’d have to call our high-ranking bosses, who wore scrambled eggs on their visors, to spring us from jail.
Our guests started to leave. Well, it was late and most had to get the subway, and that was that. Until the morning after. We opened our blinds to dried yellow paint. No. Someone had egged our windows. Speaking of eggs.
I know, I know … but where are the cops when you need em?