One early summer Sunday morning in Babylon I woke up to find my grandfather Buster boiling water in a shallow sauce pan.
"Are you making eggs?"
"No, Bobby, I'm making coffee."
When the water came to a boil he poured an indeterminate amount of coffee grounds directly into the pan.
"Do you drink coffee, Bobby?"
I wasn't quite sure how to answer, so I nodded. As a six-year-old, coffee seemed like a pretty good idea.
"It'll be just a minute," he said. Buster always wore khakis and a white shirt, even first thing on a Sunday morning when the house was still. His hair was pure white, and curly, and cut short on the sides. I sat down at the small kitchen table and waited.
After the coffee had boiled for a minute or so, he crushed a handful of dry egg shells directly into the pan.
"Why are you doing that?"
He smiled, something he did often and very well. "It's how we made coffee in the Navy."
"I didn't know you were in the Navy."
"I helped Hap Arnold win the war."
That was good enough for me. "Do the egg shells add any flavor?"
"They help settle the grounds. How do you take your coffee?"
This was an impossible question, so I shrugged. "How do you take your coffee?"
"Good answer. Dark then."
He pulled two mugs from the cabinet, set them on the counter then gently poured off two portions of coffee, using a spoon to prevent any coffee ground-encrusted egg shells from slipping into the cups.
"Here you go," he said, sliding the mugs on the table and sitting down opposite me. "This will be our little secret, I'm not sure your mother would approve."
I nodded, and he smiled. "OK, Buster."