Home at Last

A mate named Sam Aquila was from Buffalo, NY. His wife brought his car from Buffalo to the base for their trip back. They asked Gerry and I to drive to Buffalo with them to meet his family and see the site of a gasoline station that Sam planned to buy. It was February. Automobile heaters were attached to the inside wall in front and fueled by gasoline piped from the carburetor. The warmth was supplemented with blankets around our feet.

I don't recall the travel time from Memphis to buffalo. We did enjoyed the trip and each other's company. A family gathering was pre-planned at Sam's mothers home. Four brothers, two sisters and families.

Anyone who has attended an Italian family dinner will know it is more abundant than a Hawaiian Luau.

We spent a week with the Aquilas. They showed us sights we have not had the pleasure of ever seeing again, such as The Falls in their most frozen state. It was a site to behold. The volume of water came out of the ice at the top of the falls and cascaded down a vertical flume, surrounded by mountains of ice on either side.

We took the elevator to the bottom of the falls an stood on the ice ridge looking up. It seemed dangerous to me even then. When I think back, I wonder were I found the nerve to get that close. We were the only human beings there. I also wonder how many honeymooners really see the falls.

Well.....! What else would you do on a honeymoon?

At Buffalo we boarded the steam driven train for Albany where I should have stopped to see my Grandparents. I didn't realize at the time she was suffering from Alzheimer. The desire to get home was overwhelming.

We changed at Harmon and boarded a local for Tarrytown. The ride seemed for ever.

While I was away for three years Memphis seemed like home, but once the Navy took that from me, reality of Elmsford was dominant.

We had discussed on the train what faced us on arrival in Elmsford. First, we had no apartment. Until then, we might squeeze in with my parents, but it would be a tight squeeze. That was not a fair solution.

While I was in Aviation School, Gerry had decided to join me in Memphis. To do this she had to give up our apartment and store the furniture. She stored it in a local bar and lodging house - O'Brien's Chateau - "The Home of the First Cocktail" This title dates back to the days of the revolutionary war. The distinction is claimed by O'Brien's Chateau, located in the center of Elmsford on Main and Central Avenue.

As the story goes, the original name was - The Ledger House. A bar maid named Betsy Flannigan concocted a new drink for a British officer one evening and decorated it with the tail feather of a cock.

The Britisher raised his glass in salute saying, "To Betsy and the Cocktail" and today's Cocktail was born.

O'Brien's Chateau was owned by Joseph P. O'Brien, a retired mounted police captain from New York City. Joe was a duplicate image of Babe Ruth, tough as nails and strictly Irish, even more than Patty's squealer. He believed the worst Irishman was better than the best of anyone else. He felt the Coogan family was part of his own. When Gerry expressed her desire to be with me in Memphis, Joe had a crew of men move her things to a room up over the bar.

Now on our return Joe became aware of our plight and insisted we take another room upstairs over the bar. The housing situation was desperate all over so the invitation was a God send.  To reach the stairs leading up, we had to walk through the bar. There was always a friend who insisted on having a drink before we retired. Perhaps we slept better for it.

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