Turtle Coffee

Earl Campbell is a member of my Masonic Lodge. When I was a youth I was a member of the Order of DeMolay (Building better citizens for tomorrow, today). Although Earl wasn’t an official adviser for my Chapter, he did serve as a mentor. His work ethic includes, Early in the day, early in the week, early in the month, early in the year. He is one of the most organized and energetic people I know, and, to whichever organization he belongs, he gives it his all. Earl is now in his 80’s and he continues to make a difference in his community. I hope that when I am his age I can say that I have accomplished at least half of what Earl has done.

Turtle Coffee

I have taught in seven different schools. One of the first things I wanted to know when I first arrived at a school was how the availability of coffee worked. In some schools it was every man for himself but, in most cases, there was some sort of formal arrangement. I am proud to say that I was a founding member of the Golden Moments Coffee Club at Kennebecasis Valley High. Participating members took turns bringing in pounds of coffee. We grew to be a two-pot club and even had a semi-annual newsletter (perhaps more on that later). But when it came to the availability of milk and/or sugar, we were on our own.

Now I need to digress for a moment. In the library there was an aquarium with turtles. These red-eared sliders had been given up by a student and the librarian, George McCaffrey, agreed to become their adoptive parent. Students would often drop in to see the turtles. They were a unique feature of the library.

Now back in those days I was still taking milk in my coffee. I found coffee to be too bitter without it. Each Monday I would take to school what I thought was enough milk to get me through the week. My supply was often depleted due to the fact that some others felt that any milk in the fridge was public domain. Because it was every man for himself, I decided to find a solution.

One weekend, following another Friday of little milk, little coffee, I found an empty Cheez Whiz bottle at home. I soaked the bottle until the label came off and attached an eye-dropper to the side. I made a label for it that read, “TURTLE FOOD. Add 10 drops daily.” On Monday morning, and each Monday thereafter, I poured milk into the bottle and added 10 drops of green food colouring. I took the bottle to school and placed it in the fridge in the back of the library. NO ONE ever used my milk after that; mind you, I had to turn my back to people when I poured it into my coffee. It made my coffee turn a shade of grey but it tasted just fine.

What is it they say, Necessity is the mother of invention? In this case, it was certainly the mother of innovation.

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One thought on “Turtle Coffee

  1. I remember you using a little brown reusable filter and pouring boiling water down through it. No one ever went in to your classroom at break and said, “Where’s Mr. Caines?” We knew- making coffee! And you never, ever washed your mug. The memories…


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