Three Fire King Coffee Cups

By Reba Phelps


If you’re friends with me on any type of social media then you’re probably aware of my love for coffee and my even bigger love for my coffee club. Coffee club is a diverse group of friends, and friends of friends, who randomly gather at different homes to enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes coffee club lingers until lunch time and sometimes it’s much shorter due to other obligations. Sometimes we miss a few weeks but we always gather again.

The Coffee Club does have a strict code of conduct that must be adhered to. There is no makeup allowed. Pajamas are preferred. If you show up looking any fancier you shall be roasted the entire time. Children are welcome but quickly learn they’ll be bored to tears so they gather and enjoy their own coffee and donut time. The last and most important rule states that if you’re not present for any reason ye shall not be informed of all of the fun that was had in your absence.

Must be present to enjoy.

On occasion there will be pictures posted on social media but only the black and white kind. The black and white photos are very forgiving of the make-up-less face and the unattended hair.

On one particular day, one of my best friend’s grandmothers made the comment that she too wanted to have coffee with the coffee club. Her rules were a bit different from ours though. We must come to her. Yes, we must bring our Fire King cups to her front porch in Red River Parish. The coffee cups were purchased on Ebay once we discovered that we all had mutual heartstring connections to these historic cups.

So, over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house we went with our Fire Kings in tow.

Once we arrived at her home you couldn’t help but notice the most amazing aroma. She’d made a huge pot of tomato gravy and it’s well known that it’s one of her specialties.

When the coffee was poured and we gathered on the porch it began to rain. It began as one of the most peaceful mornings in coffee club history. A few sips in my friend went inside to retrieve an old box of pictures. There was an amazing story with every photo memory that left that box. My friend teased her grandmother mercilessly about her style during the 80’s. Her hair was an easy target as well. The laughing stopped when grandmother shared a “Glamour Shot” of my dear friend from the early 90’s.

We laughed until we cried.

Some of the photos brought back humorous memories of different family members. They also sparked conversation of Prom dresses that took many pay checks to purchase. It then lead to conversation of how this grandmother always put her family first. She worked overtime and endless hours to provide for her children and grandchild, my friend.

But, also out that very box came stories of a scary and failed first marriage for my friend’s grandmother and how she escaped. She went on to tell us that when she married she said, “I will instead of I do.” There is a big difference in the two.

Later on, there was the story that no parent wants to live through. The tragic and untimely death of a child who left behind a toddler to be raised by various family members. More pictures described the years of custody battles over my best friend and the horrid conditions in which adults fought over where she would reside. During this bitter battle she told us that she sat down and wrote a scathing letter to family members who were mistreating her granddaughter. But once she had the opportunity to present it to them all she could say was, “I love you and I am praying for you.”

The intricate details of love and loss had our eyes filled with tears and our hearts breaking. Even though my friend lived the story she was on the edge of her seat as well. Every now and then her grandmother would ask for permission from my friend to continue the story. Our friendship has always been an open book so she did not hesitate with her permission to proceed.

At the end of all of these stories Maudie looked at us both and said, “Someone always has it worse don’t they?”

There was not much more we could say at this point. Yes, someone always has it worse.

Three vintage coffee cups, three women and three completely different paths in life. The visit was not about the cups or the pictures. It was about a mutual love for family and friends. The visit was about teaching a younger generation that you can only survive loss and hard times by keeping your faith. She taught us that when God has his hand on your life you have no choice but to succeed and live at peace.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among thee.”

Mathew 18:20