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    Texas | Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories

    The English Gentleman
    and the Beer Joint

    by Bill Cherry
    Bill Cherry

    There was always this special breed of girls who annoy me.

    In general, they are athletic, rather pretty dirty blonds with short hair. They have skinny lips and their mouths are always moving every so minusculely as they chew a half of a stick of Dentyne gum.

    Mostly you see them at bowling alleys and roller skating rinks.

    So I ask you, what’s this with chewing a half of a stick of Dentyne gum? Isn’t it already small enough?

    Kevin Frye was somewhat younger than I, but growing up he and his family had lived nearby and all of us were active members of Trinity Church.

    One time, for complicated reasons not worthy of enumerating here, it was to Kevin’s and my best interest if we double dated to a formal affair at the Artillery Club. Both of our dates lived down by the 7-mile Road. I didn’t know either of them.

    I went by to pick up Kevin. I went early because it was around Christmas time, and the Galveston fog was quickly setting in. I knew we’d have to feel our way down the old S Road.

    I honked and out came Kevin in full formal dress – the same stuff English men wear to a prince’s wedding. It was the cape, long coat with tails, waistcoat, black patent leather shoes, white gloves, top hat and cane.

    Did I mention the gold pocket watch on the chain that looped across his front?

    Kevin had a full beard and moustache. All of that accented his regular over the top eccentricities.

    At this point, there was no turning back for me, so he got in my car and we started our trip to the 7 Mile Road. Of course all of the small talk that came out of Kevin on the way was in his adaptation of a British accent.

    He used “a tall” for “at all” as often as he could. Everyone knows that’s very British.

    When we got close to the 7 Mile Road it was obvious we were early by at least a half hour, so Kevin insisted that we stop at an S Road beer joint for “an ale.”

    I couldn’t change his mind. I envisioned we would enter a bar full of tough guys looking for a fight.

    We walked in, Kevin with his top hat and cape, and using his cane. Some tough guy in blue jeans and denim shirt at the bar said, “What is that!” when he saw Kevin.

    “My good man,” Kevin began in his phony accent, “You are in the presence of two gentlemen who have stopped in for an ale before they secure their two ladies, who live nearby, for an evening of frivolity.”

    By now, the other fellows were turned toward us and had listened in disbelief to Kevin’s British soliloquy. One guy picked up his beer mug. I was sure it was getting ready to sail across the room aimed at Kevin. But instead, the fellow put it to his lips and took a swig.

    The bartender was one of those dirty blond haired athletic women chewing on her half-stick of Dentyne gum that I was telling you about.

    With “I’ve seen it all” eyes nonchalantly at half-staff she said, “What will you two gentlemen from across the pond have?

    “I assume, my dear woman, that you have a fine Burton Pale Ale like Worthington White Shield,” Kevin said, then continuing before the half-stick Dentyne chewer could respond, “We’ll have two, at a tepid temperature, of course.”

    I’m seeing getting beat to a pulp and thrown chairs and tables and beer bottles coming closer and closer into our future.

    The bartender answered, still with her half-staff eye lids and her teeth chewing on the half-stick of Dentyne, “Two Lone Stars coming up!” The whole place went up in a raucous laughter.

    Kevin picked a table for two in the center of the floor. Of course he took off his gloves and theatrically put them, his top hat, his cape and his cane on a nearby table top, then threw his coat tails back as he sat down.

    The two Lone Stars were delivered, but by then it was within minutes of when we would have to be on our way to pick up our dates.

    Rising and facing Miss Dentyne and the men at the bar, Kevin said in his British accent, “I propose a toast to us all.” Then he raised his Lone Star bottle. Surprisingly, the others did, too.

    Kevin continued, “We are all of us in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars. Cheers!”

    After a few swallows, Kevin, gathered his formal attire props off of the adjacent table, put them on and then followed his cane to the bar.

    He held out his hand to the half-stick Dentyne chewer. When she gave him hers, he bent down and ceremoniously kissed it – just like they do in the movies.

    And then he went from that end of the bar to the other, shaking each man’s hand.

    As we started out of the door, they all came to their feet, and gave Kevin a standing ovation – cheers, between the teeth whistles, and all.

    Dr. Kevin Frye
    Dr. Kevin Frye

    D r. Kevin Frye died about three years back. Perhaps you saw his obituary in the paper.

    He had written me a few months before.

    “Speakman,” he wrote…he always called me Speakman, my middle name. He continued in Latin which always comprised most of his notes to me.

    It said in my rough translation, that he felt he would soon be on his death bed; that his health was quickly failing. Within a month he was gone. His heart had given out.

    A lot of people mourned his passing, and well they should have.

    There hadn’t been before, nor will ever there be again, another Kevin Frye.

    Not one soul thinks he isn’t a better person from having known him. And everyone has his own story to tell with a smile in remembrance.

    Copyright 2013 – William S. Cherry
    "Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories" February 8, 2013 column
    Related Topics:
    Galveston | People |
    Texas Town List | Columns | Texas

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    Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.
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