Saturday, October 15, 2016


By: LT. Richard D. Tarbuck
USS Stewart (DD-224)

I’m gonna tell you a secret,
Which, perhaps I shouldn’t do,
Because it might net me a million
If I wanted to push it through.
It’s the secret of making coffee,
And its one you’ve never read,
One sip and you’ll never forget it,
You’ll remember it after you’re dead.

Now, before I go any further,
 I want you to get me straight.
This ain’t no china cup stuff
You’ve been drinking here of late.
Its an old, old trick they told me,
How old we’ll never know.
I got it from a black coal-passer
On a battleship years ago.

First, you must have a fireroom
And a thirst that’s full of froth,
And a fireman swingin’ slice-bars,
And boilers lighted off.
Your face should be covered with coal-dust
To start the thing out right;
Your eyes like two white headlamps
Peering through the night.

You take a dirty old tin can,
That’s been there for years or more,
And throw in some Navy coffee,
That you stole the day before,
Then add some boiler water,
And stir it with your thumb,
It’s full of boiler compound
And mostly dregs and scum.

Then you put it on a shovel, and you hold it on a shovel,
And you hold it in the fire
‘til the heat ‘most melts the tin-can
That holds your heart’s desire.
Then you pull out what is left there,
Add sugar if any’s about,
And stir it with a pencil—
A little sweat helps out.

You sip it through your cut-plug
A drop you never lose.
It’s thick, and black and smoky,
And goes clean through your shoes,
It kicks like a mule in a circus,
But I’d make some now if I could,
‘S like takin’ a jolt of lye-water—
It’s wicked stuff, but it’s good.

Artwork by Frank Delatorre

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