John Glenn was a likable man

Published 6:18 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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Oktoberfest kind of got by me.

The month of October reminds me of drawing pumpkins on a wood fence, tin noisemakers,  and orange candy peanuts that taste like the toe of your sock.

I’m not too sorry I missed the celebration of the marriage of a prince and princess in Germany even before I was born.

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But the memory did stand clear of Oktoberfest in Ohio in 1980 or 81.

The origin of the memory was back in 1963. I was making $50 a month as a pantry girl at Canyon Village in Yellowstone National Park.

When the big restaurant was shorthand, I left the pantry for the main dining room with visions of tips in my head.

This one evening John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, was going to dine at the main restaurant.

I put together a relish tray with the greenest olives, orangiest carrots, blackest olives and longest dill spears, reddest radishes and the nuttiest cashews on the biggest, crispiest lettuce bed. It was a sight to behold.

Those with John Glenn, the astronaut, enjoyed a steak dinner in the main dining room packed with admirers.

When dinner was done, a five dollar bill was there for me. Five dollars! A dollar bill was cherished by all girls who waited tables. Twenty five cents was considered an adequate tip. But, a five dollar bill!

I didn’t walk to the dorm that night. I ran for fear I would be mugged by a disgruntled YP employee.

Some time later, in 1980 or 81. I was at Oktoberfest in Cleveland, Ohio — the Mistake on the Lake.

The crowd quietened. Senator John Glenn from the State of Ohio had entered.

When it came my turn to shake his hand, I did something foolish.

“Senator Glenn, you don’t remember me, but, many years ago, you gave me a five-dollar tip at a restaurant in Yellowstone National Park. Thank you, again,”

“I’m sure you spent the money wisely,” the Senator from Ohio said.

“Yes, sir. I bought a large box or baking soda and a chocolate milkshake.”

“Baking soda?”

“Yes sir. I was out of toothpaste and deodorant. Baking soda served as both.”

He laughed.

I liked that man.