Chub was an inspector of construction at the University of Missouri. He would check blueprints and contracts and report to MUís director of construction about the progress made on new buildings. He would check the temperature of concrete before it could be poured on cold days, check the quality of materials used and things like that. It was occasionally necessary for him to be lowered down into the ground to verify a solid-rock base for the concrete piers that would be poured into those deep holes. Obviously, the contractors, architects and suppliers liked Chub. He was soft-spoken, had a ready grin and often ironed out rough spots without getting riled up. Itís no surprise that he received symbols of appreciation at Christmastime. Not all, but some of those tokens came bottled, beautifully packaged and were called "Christmas Cheer." Now how much good whiskey can a teetotaler such as Chub Gerard use in his once-a-year eggnog?
The tallest cabinet became his "liquor locker" and was rarely opened from one Christmas till the next. A number of the best-quality products were resting there, serving no one. I suspect he seldom thought about this cache. I had suggested that he give it away, but no. They were gifts. They were his. He used to laugh and quote a German relative who had barrels of wine in his cellar. George explained that he just kept "a little in case of illness!" It was like money stashed in a rat hole. Then I entered the picture and "did bad."
Some fellows with whom I worked were planning a weekend turkey hunt. I overheard them tossing around some names of the Christmas cheer in Chubís liquor locker. I guessed by their giggling and teasing that this turkey hunt was just a spree. Ah, here was the chance to make space in my top cabinet! I had considered giving a fifth to friends who would appreciate it, but that would seem to be approving the habit. I was too frugal to flush that expensive stuff down the drain. So in a flash of insight, I said to the hunters, "Iíll provide the liquor for you." They stared, disbelieving. "What kind do you want?" I asked, naming some brands that rated full-page ads in slick-paper magazines. They were happy to help me solve my storage problem.
The next morning I put three fifths of the best brands into a grocery bag and placed it in one fellowís car, feeling sort of guilty that I had not asked Chub whether it would be OK. At home, the subject didnít come up for months, maybe a year. Chub heard me tell someone that I had given away three bottles from his liquor locker. Wow! He hit the ceiling. He had a right to be hurt, angry even, and I could offer no defense. Having several bottles left for his eggnog didnít ease the pain. It was the principle of the thing.
I learned my lesson that year. Incidentally, we didnít make eggnog for several years after that. We just saved "a little in case of illness."