Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ONCE UPON A TIME IN FAYETTEVILLE

You have to fully understand the phenomenon of what was Hays Street, downtown Fayettteville, and what it meant to be a young paratrooper there in the 1970's and early 80's . . . S.L.


By 1986 the only bar left on Hays Street was the Seven Dwarfs - moved across the street from its original location (next to Rick's) to adjacent to the Fayetteville Observer's print room, very close to where the Airborne & Special Operations Museum now stands. Rick's burned down in '84 - some say arson, so the owner could realize some kind of worth on the property as the City of Fayetteville continued its pressure to "sanitize" Hays Street. Seven Dwarfs was a Korean-owned establishment but there were several round-eye girls dancing there, some of them not bad looking, either.


It was at the Seven Dwarfs where I had the adventure of my life. I was a squad leader in the 2/504 P.I.R. and it came to the attention of my platoon sergeant that one of my troops was a virgin. Every Monday morning at 0900 formation he'd look at me and say "Has Private So-&-So's nuts dropped yet?" and I'd have to say (somewhat ashamedly) "No, Sergeant. Private So-&-So's nuts haven't dropped yet," and the rest of the platoon would snicker and laugh.

We were the laughingstock of the company, and the honor of the squad was at stake. The situation was getting out of hand. So the seasoned paratroopers in the squad got together and we decided to do something about it. Saturday night we went down to Hays Street to visit the last holdout on the old "Strip" - the notorious Seven Dwarfs.


Things were going along fine. The place was full of these Air Force guys, we were the only paratroopers in there. After a few beers, Private So-&-So was in a deep conversation with this remarkably good-looking cougar in her 40s wearing the skimpiest string bikini you could possibly imagine. She had her elbow up on the bar, holding her chin in her hand and totally engrossed in whatever the hell it was So-&-So was telling here, like he was The Most Interesting Man in the World.


A couple beers later I looked over and Private So-&-So and The Cougar were locked into a full-on open-mouthed, French tongue-kiss. I felt kind of proud, and I nudged my buddy next to me, "hey, check out So-&-So." When I looked back, I noticed one of my other guys rolling on the floor fighting for his life, exchanging punches with one of the Air Force Guys. That was it - COMBAT. The squad got on line and we waded into the Air Force guys.

I'd cleared out a few saloons before that - and a few since - and it was like any other bar fight: a glorious turbulence of exquisite violence. But we were operating like a team, and it became like industrial-line warfare. We'd grab one of the Air Force guys and hand him down the line, everybody nailing the poor bastard with a couple of good punches. We were DESTROYING the enemy, which is what paratroopers do. We know nothing else.

At one point I became aware that one of the Korean mama-sans who ran the joint was coming up to us and spraying mace in our faces. We were used to CS of course, so this mace shit was a joke - we just shook it off and drove on with our mission, which was destroying the Air Force guys. The Air Force guys, on the other hand, were freaking out from the mace and they were scattering in all directions.

The rhythm of the battle changed, and I found myself being grabbed by the front of my shirt and thrown up against the wall by this huge Samoan dude. Like a total dumbass I said, "You want to try that again?" SURE! - and WHAM - I was up against the wall again. Then the Samoan had me by the lapels again and was up in my face, talking to me in a loud voice.

"LISSEN TO ME!" he said. A badge came out. "I'M CID!!! YOU NEED TO GET YOUR GUYS AND GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!"

Light went on my head. I signaled my guys and we got the hell out of there. Had to extricate Private So-&-So from Miss Cougar the String Bikini Bandit. Then we were out in the street, and we could see four cop cars lining up in front of the place, blue lights flashing, another car rolling up, and coming around the corner a sixth cop car. They were already hauling the hapless Air Force guys out of there in handcuffs.


Not my guys - we were already out on the street, playing it cool, with the scent of mace wafting about us. The big Samoan CID guy came up to us and said, "Lissen guys, I like the 82d! I used to be 82d! You need to get your asses out of here! And you see that guy over there?" He pointed to this nondescript guy shuffling up the street in our direction. "Don't fuck with him! He's a cop!"

We made our way back to the barracks. I don't know what anybody did on Sunday, but Monday morning PT formation we were all there, looking more or less worse for wear and tear after our misadventure Saturday night. Platoon Sergeant says, "Linnane! Has Private So-&-So's nuts dropped yet?"

This time I just thought of how we'd dealt death & destruction, then did a successful E&E out of there, and to me that counted as success not failure, so this time I held my chin up and spoke a bit louder when I reported, "No, Sergeant, his nuts haven't dropped yet."

This time nobody snickered - word about the Battle of the Seven Dwarfs had gotten around the platoon, apparently, and the honor of the squad was firmly established. We were obviously a force to be reckoned with.


The next weekend the guys took Private So-and-So out to the Velvet Touch in Spring Lake and got him squared away. I went by myself back down to the Seven Dwarfs - return to the scene of the crime - looked up that hot 40-something cougar in the string bikini and got myself squared away - but that's a story for another time.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it . . .
STORMBRINGER SENDS

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sean;

    I have a bar clearing story for you, I was going through AIT in 1986 at Fort Devens in the peoples republic of MASS, and we were in the EM club near the quad where we were housed at. I and several members of my squad were sitting at the table eating burgers and chips(Couldn't drink beer because of the legal age was 21 and I and my fellow GI's were 19 and yes that sucked, but that is a story for another time.) But anyway a bit of background, we had other branches going through my school so we were a mix of different services, Well anyway I see a airborne guy walk up to a green beret guy and say "Hows it going Greenie Beenie" and the Green beret guy replied "Hows it hanging Raspberry Beret" Well fight on the spot. Me and my friend Mark jumped under the table, we were not getting involved. Well the air force was getting beaten up, the marines were singing "the halls of Montezuma" in the middle of the dance floor, and this went on for several minutes then I heard "MP"! well the crowd turned in the MP's and threw them out. Well I looked at my friend Mark "We gotta get out of here, they will be back with tear gas", well Mark and I crawled out of the back through the kitchen and headed to the quad. And we were running keeping a low profile as the MP's came back and gassed the entire club. Next morning the entire training battalion was in formation for an hour getting our collective asses chewed by the battalion commander. I saw quite a few bruises on a few people. Luckily nobody from my training class was involved. It still sucked that we got bitched at, but group punishment is part of the military experience. I laugh about it now.

    ReplyDelete