Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


A Sip of Scotch

I love a scotch whiskey on the rocks once in a while. Sometimes I have one for cocktail time at five or six in the evening. It is also a perfect nightcap. I like the smooth Glen Livet. I have enjoyed it since 1956. That year I learned to drink and enjoy scotch. Now I lean back in my blue leather chair, close my eyes and smell the sweet malty flavor of the drink.

All these years later a sip of scotch whiskey sprouts vivid memories of Lloyd Patterson and George Barrett in Bronxville, New York. I can see their faces, hear their voices and even smell Lloyd’s cigarette smoke. I hear Lloyd reciting the title of his doctoral thesis, The Anti-Origenism of  St. Ignatius and its affect on Gregory of Nyssa. I hear my boss George West Barrett, rector of Christ Church, Bronxville and his guttural chuckle after someone’s joke or sly remark. We three were the clergy staff at the church. We had met at The General Theological Seminary in Chelsea Square, New York City. George was a professor and Lloyd and I were students.

The sip draws memories of my first wife Lillian and our newborn baby, Leigh. She captivated us. The lovely Episcopalians welcomed our family to the church and the village. We had a light airy apartment overlooking green trees. Lloyd was a bachelor so we often had him over for dinner. He always clutched a copy of his dissertation, having left a copy of it his apartment. He feared losing his work in a fire. It was Lloyd who made me interested in Glen Livet. It was very expensive and not our regular brand. He sang its praises. We very occasionally bought a bottle. Now it is my house scotch.

George Burpee was another aficionado of Glen Livet. He and his wife Tippy were in their 70s. The first Sunday after we moved in the Burpees climbed three flights of stairs to visit us the new cleric and his wife. It was an old-fashioned house visit. They invited us to dinner and then climbed back down the stairs to go home. Before dinner that night very pregnant Lillian managed to spill a gin and tonic onto the splendid red and blue multi-colored Persian rug. The Burpees laughed it off and dried it up. George then extolled us of the virtues of a good scotch whiskey.
Mr. Burpee was Senior Warden of Christ Church. A civil engineer, he flew regularly to San Francisco as a consultant to the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, known now as BART.

Lloyd, George, Lillian and the Burpees are dead. Leigh and I survive in this year of 2006, sixty years later.

A line from the Psalms sticks in my mind. “Oh taste and see….”


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