Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barksdale Mourns Loss of Hangar 2 "Bar Guard"

I think the first time I met Joy Morgan was the night she jumped over the bar at Hangar 2 to pull some "GI" off a table before he hit his head on the racks of beer mugs hanging from the ceiling, thus confirming her title of "Bar Guard."

That's Joy on the left.

She's a little bitty thing with a huge heart.

Hangar 2 is located on Barksdale Air Force Base and is where many a "GI" has been fed, mothered, and whipped into shape by a feisty Thai lady with a heart of gold.  It doesn't matter what branch of service you were in, how long, or of what rank, you were "GI."  Oh, the ranking officers were certainly shown proper respect and decorum, but Joy taught all the younger ones the ropes.

Steve and I used to go to Hangar 2 nearly every Wednesday and/or Friday night; Wednesday was steak night and Joy would make her famous Thai beef salad  -- if you didn't overcook your steak.
 If you cooked that baby too long she would ream you out and take no responsibility for the condition of your Thai salad.  But the Thai salad, with a rare piece of steak sliced very thin, was just fabulous.  Joy brought fresh tomatoes and mint from her garden to dress it up, and cucumbers in season.  All you had to do was cook your steak on the grill outside, bring it into the bar, and Joy would deftly slice it up, gold bangles jangling on her wrist, long lacquered nails flashing as she sliced.  Then she would toss the steak with her combination of salad fixings and Thai seasonings, set it on a bed of fresh lettuce, and put it all on a helping of steamed rice.  Just heavenly.

If you didn't order your salad "spicy," Joy felt some pity for you.  One regular ordered hers "mild" every week and Joy would say, "She can't handle the hot...poor thing!"

Friday nights were always crowded and often filled with good music from Larry the DJ, dancing, and good times.  We would often sit outside the back door with Joy and some other regulars while Joy would smoke and have a shot of something.  We'd listen to the kids yelling from the pool next door, hear the big B52s roaring overhead, and talk, just shooting the breeze, laughing, joking, and feeling fine.  Good times.

Hangar 2 sponsors Joy's Mug Club where you can buy your own large beer mug, have it engraved with the design of your choice at the Hobby Shop on base, and hang it at the bar.  I can promise you, up to her final days, Joy could tell you where your mug was hanging.  There are hundreds of mugs hanging in that place, and she knew exactly where yours was.  Always.  No matter where you were from, how long you had been gone, or how many times you had been to the bar, she knew where your mug was.  You were special.  You were home.

A couple of years ago Joy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Steve and I went in the Hangar
one night and the gloom was palpable; it was like the life had been sucked out of the place.  Everyone was sad.  Soon after, a jar appeared on the bar for donations for Joy, and it was always full.  She recovered and returned to work.  Amazing.

Steve and I sat up there many nights with her, trying to help out, insisting that she sit down, bucking her stubborn streak to try and lift kegs or bags of trash.  Her friends stepped in to help; Tay took over helping on steak night.  Rose organized visits and dinners to Joy's house to keep her spirits up.  Steve vacuumed that bar I don't know HOW many nights so Joy could leave and go home earlier.

Once there was a litter of stray kittens under the deck at the Hangar.  There were some who were determined to call the pound, trap the cats, and get rid of them, but not Joy.  Joy slipped bowls of food under the deck and bowls of water for them.  The cats were feral and wouldn't let anyone near them, but they eventually let Joy take care of them.

Just like the airmen.

And the naysayers caved; nobody wanted to cross Joy.  The cats stayed.

She was a nurturing soul.

Heart of gold.

Heaven got a new angel last night.  Her wings and halo were waiting on her; she'd already earned

If you knew Joy, her funeral service will be at 2:00, Saturday, at Hillcrest.  No flowers; her husband request all donations will go to St. Jude Children's Hospital.


Anonymous said...

Great post Pat.

Duke L.

Pat Austin said...

Thanks, Duke.

I'd appreciate it if folks would share and pass this one along; there are boys scattered all over the world that Joy took care of that would want to know.

There's a gathering forming up at Hangar 2 Friday (tomorrow) night. We're going to raise one more for Joy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, I'm going to link on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I was playing around on facebook and came across your post. And I remembered the first time I met Joy at the HRO Office, I was in processing as the new manager. The minute I met her I liked her and begged her to come back to work and I would make sure we all would take care of her. Long story short, I made a great friend and loved working with her. The short time I spend at Barksdale she took care of me and I will always miss her!!!

Pat Austin said...

Thanks, Anon for commenting. I still miss Joy! She was a fireball and a class act. Hasn't been the same without her. She touched a lot of lives.