Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Blueberry Cobbler

by Chuck Handley

Blueberry Cobbler…. I was inspired to write this “doolie story” after reading Don Heidi’s hilarious story [which I had the good fortune to hear in person in Bozeman, MT in 2010]…where he had some of his doolie classmates and their wives in tears from laughing so hard. My story isn’t as funny as Don’s but it is an event that I have remembered all these years and it still makes the ‘inner me’ smile…which is a good thing.

For those of you who didn’t have the good fortune to know me during our doolie year…. I was older than most upperclassmen, [turned 20 in Sept of doolie year], had already spent a year in the Air Force attending the Naval Academy Prep School , had been promoted from Airman Basic to Airman Third Class, which gave me some military training [not much] and that combined with not being 17 gave me the maturity to respect all upperclassmen but I didn’t live in fear of them.

Now to my story:

Time: a couple of months before Recognition.
Place: Mitchell Hall, dinner.
Dessert: Blueberry Cobbler.

I sat directly across from my 1st class table commandant, at attention of course, sitting on the first four inches of the chair [that was really a pain that we all got use to] with four cadets on my right and four on my left. Turns out my table commandant owed his classmate [who was table commandant at a table next to ours] a dessert [cadet’s were notoriously broke and upper classmen would use desserts as betting spoils]. I can only assume he wasn’t particularly fond of blueberry cobbler and decided that on this night he wanted to pay off his debt and have me [his lowly 4th class serf] pass his blueberry cobbler over to his classmate.

He looked at me and said…”You know how I want you to give it to him, don’t you?” I immediately knew what he meant by the devilish look in his eyes and the wry smile on his lips. By this time he knew me pretty well and had picked-up on the fact that I had a sense of humor, was from NYC….and was a little bit of a smart-ass. I know that is hard for some of you to believe, but his assessment was correct and I still am. This was going to be fun.

I can still see the 1st classmen’s outreached arm with his hand palm up….waiting for his dish of blueberry cobbler. Then I heard myself saying….”dessert for Cadet Jones” [can’t remember who it was…]. I stretched my arm out to get to his hand and then to his great surprise I turned the dish over in his hand…..I can still see the blueberries dripping from between his fingers as he jumped to his feet. Believe it or not, I can’t remember exactly what happened after that……expletives, laughter, etc.

However, as with all spur-of-the –moment actions, I really hadn’t given any thought to how I was going to get out of Mitchell Hall and back to the relative safety of my room….while avoiding the wrath of a really PO’d 1st class table commandant!!! And as all cadets know, doolies were never secure in their rooms…one knock and you were nose-to-nose with an upper classmen….who was seldom in a good mood. It was never smart for a doolie to upstage an upper classmen…much less a “firsty.” Dumb really….

What I do remember is that both table commandant’s were waiting for me outside Mitchell Hall. Once they saw me it started….and all the way back to Vandenberg Hall they took turns….first “cadet purple hand” in a most animated manner barking at me…“run your chin-in, cage those eyes, I better not see you smile, your life is over dumb smack!!!” and much more I am sure, which I can no longer remember. Now you have to picture my table commandant on the other side of me calmly giving me instructions….“walk at ease, relax, smile if you want to, etc.” This went on and on, all the way back to my room. I’m sure it was quite a show to all who observed it ….and it still makes me smile, all these years later.

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