The local gas station with sporting goods was half-a-block away from my house. It was called Pettit's Station. I frequented it many Sundays to talk about the outdoors and to avoid going to church. Everyone left when the noon whistle went off because it meant the end of church and all the men there wanted it to appear like they had attended church.
I went to the station more often than most because of the fishing tackle there. One of the owner's sons was my age and we swapped lies about pike fishing. I also visited with the older guys there who were working on cars or just chilling. I met Rodney there. He was one of the motor heads. He worked as a mechanic there and always had a hot car that looked like a racecar. We made friends for life there.
My brother-in-law also was drawn to the station because of his love for cars. He also was a mechanic there. His name is Dennis. He was given a nickname by one of the owners. One day, Dennis was working on an engine and Mike was looking for Dennis. Mike called out Dennis' name a couple times and Dennis replied each time. Mike couldn't find Dennis and started to search the shop for Dennis. Mike found Dennis sitting cross-legged on top of the engine. Mike called Dennis a dwarf for being able to sit on the engine. Dennis was then dubbed with the nickname of Dwarfie. The name stuck.
Dwarfie, Rodney and I grew to be great friends. Dwarfie married my sister and Rodney and I were in the wedding. Rodney was married and of course Dwarfie and I were in the wedding.
The years went by quickly. Rodney and Dwarfie got divorced. We were still the three Musketeers. We did everything together. The only thing we didn't do together was deer hunt. Rodney and I hunted for deer and anything that walked or flew. Dwarfie had to endure the stories of our escapades at the gas station.
We made many memories together in one of Rodney's racecars. I can remember one Saturday night at about 3 a.m. there was a thunderstorm with lots of lighting. We went to the highest point in the area and got out in the drenching downpour and watched the lightning show and talked about life and what each of our plans for our future was. Our plans were very different from each others. We all agreed that if there were any big life events or changes we would meet and talk about them.
It was April 1977 and the three Musketeers met in my yard. I had decided I was going to spread my wings and leave Hicksville, Wisconsin. I enlisted in the Army and was leaving in a week. We drug the three picnic tables from the park in to the yard and went and bought a half-barrel of beer. We had an impromptu going away party for me. The entire village was invited. We had a raging bonfire in the yard. The Catholic priest even came. I can remember sitting with Rodney and Dwarfie on one of picnic tables and laughing at the priest jumping over the fire and stating he was not going to get burnt because he had god on his shoulder.
The morning came. The birds were chirping and all three of the Musketeers were asleep on the picnic tables. We cleared the cobwebs from our eyes and reaffirmed our friendship and swore to meet every time there was a big life event.
Seven years flew by and I was married and divorced in Germany, while in the Army. I divorced the service and a wife in one felled swoop. I brought three bottles of European liquor and three special glasses and carried them in my carry-on bag with care for the meeting of the three Musketeers.
I got home to Hicksville on a Tuesday and the meeting was already Wednesday. I broke out the special glasses. They were green stemmed and had etching on them. They were meant for drinking hard stuff slowly.
We started with the Apfelkorn and then proceeded to Ansbach. We told our stories about the seven years I had missed. Neither had remarried and both were very single. They poked at me and reminded me about spreading my wings and ending right back home.
We finished the third bottle of booze. It was Ouzo. The rest of the night was kinda cloudy. We all woke up on chairs in my mom's living room. I took the three glasses and put them in my mom's antique cabinet.
The next 30 years flew by. I introduced and pushed Dwarfie to marry a gal. Rodney and I were in the wedding. It happened again. I talked Rodney in to marrying a gal and Dwarfie and I were in the wedding. I was also married in those years and of course the two yahoos were groomsmen.
Professions changed and many life events happened. One thing stayed constant. There was always the meeting of the Musketeers through the years.
Yesterday, I broke out the glasses from my mom's cabinet. The Ouzo was really hard to wash out because it had 30 years to set in. I washed them with a heavy heart.
Dwarfie and his wife were there at my hometown bar. My wife Barb was there with me. I explained that I was unable to talk and wanted her to explain the tradition to Rodney's wife. The three glasses were there with a shot in each them. Barb brought Rodney's wife Karen to the table. Karen sat down and Barb explained the tradition. The tears flowed and the toast was made for Rodney by Karen for her husband, and she left the table with Rodney's glass and Rodney's Urn.