Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Nice English Girls

by Darryl Bloodworth

One memory stands out vividly from the Central European field trip following our second year at the Academy. Two of my friends on that trip were Allan McArtor and Terry Isaacson. We already had two years of football together under our belts and were close friends.

Our first stop on the field trip was London. After an embassy briefing on the first day there, we were free to see the sites of London on our own. Terry, Allan and I put on our civies and headed for Soho the first night there. Within 10 minutes of our hitting the streets in Soho a somewhat seedy guy sees us gawking about on a street corner, sidles up to us and asks "You boys are Americans, aren't you?" I'm not quite sure how he knew that. After all, we were dressed in nice dark pants, white socks, and suitable casual shirts (Terry's shirt was covered with nice purple pelicans). We also had the best military haircuts we saw anywhere in London. We were pretty sophisticated, and knew it. After all, what would you expect of three boys from Oak Park, IL, Webster Groves, MO and Apalachicola, FL? We responded that we were, indeed, Americans and he asked "How would you boys like to meet some nice English girls?"

That seemed like a splendid idea to us so we followed him to an establishment that looked like a bar, but with no bar in sight, just lots of tables with stairs leading up to what looked like bedrooms upstairs. Perhaps it was a boarding house. And sure enough, as soon as we walked in the door, three rather attractive girls in somewhat revealing attire and wearing lots of makeup, rushed up to us, steered us to a table and promptly waived a bartender over to us. Our first mistake was that we didn't inquire about the price of the drinks. Our second mistake was that we were confusing pounds for dollars. We each got a small glass of watered down beer, and each of our "dates" got a shot glass of Coca-Cola, with each drink costing about three pounds. We thought three dollars for a beer was pretty expensive, but we didn't calculate until later that at the exchange rate of $2.80 per pound, our watered down beer cost us each $8.40, and the Coke for each of our "dates" cost the same, a total of $16.80 per round for each of us.

After about three rounds of drinks I realized I couldn't afford the company of "nice English girls" and I excused myself. Terry and Allen weren't quite as sophisticated as I was (after all, they weren't from Apalachicola), and they hung around for another round with the girls. They apparently thought my date had taken me for a tour of the boarding house upstairs. In fact, I just waited on them outside. After about 15-20 minutes they came out muttering to themselves and were somewhat surprised to find me outside waiting on them. We quickly agreed that English hospitality wasn't all it initially seemed to be. We then calculated the damage and realized that our little visit to meet some "nice English girls" had cost us each about $50 American. Since we had only brought about $100 for spending money for the entire trip we had blown half our money within an hour of being on our own in London. It only then began to sink in to us that perhaps this is what is known as a clip joint.

We didn't advertise our little misadventure with our classmates, and we were certainly wary of English girls the rest of the field trip. They say that the lessons that are the most expensive are the ones that we remember best. After 50 years, I still remember this one quite well.
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