What’s hiding under your chicken coop?

Silly question? Perhaps. 

But for veteran Jim Thomsen, the answer is life changing.

In the 1950s, Jim was an Army soldier serving in the Korean War. Young. Scared. Thousands of miles from his family in rural Minnesota. Just a boy putting his life on the line and honoring his country the only way he could.

War is filled with terror and moments one hopes to someday forget. So when an opportunity for folly presents itself, you seize it. 

Especially when it involves alcohol. 

And a chicken coop. 

The officers at Jim’s base were having a party. With scotch. So Jim and his fellow soldiers devised a plan to snag themselves some as well. 

With a brevity they didn’t feel, they arrived at the party claiming to be officers and asked to “load up” the scotch. So with a vehicle suddenly filled with contraband scotch, Jim & crew quickly had to find a hiding spot. 

Hence the chicken coop. 

Seventy years later, Jim is drinking his signature drink—a scotch and water— at the Spencer-Ross American Legion Post #134 in Walker, Minnesota and speculating if that scotch is still buried there. 

The Iowa Roadie & husband first met Jim two years ago on a visit to Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. (In addition to being an honored veteran, Jim once struck out legendary Mickey Mantle in a fastpitch softball game.) Today Jim can be found seated around “the penis table” at the Walker Legion where he and his fellow veterans continue to “keep America great.” 

It was quite humbling to be invited to sit with Jim and the other esteemed vets…not once, but twice, during our week in Walker. We played bingo and attended a meat raffle with men and women who sacrificed more than we ever want to. 

For the record, there is no “free space” in war.

What IS free is America… thanks to Jim & his fellow veterans. 

In return for that freedom, they ask only for respect. Not for themselves, necessarily. But for our country and the flag they fought for.

That is why the veterans we spoke to will not be watching professional football this year. They will not endorse political candidates that promote looting or defunding the police. They will not be giving up their Second Amendment rights. 

Instead these heroes will move forward with quiet dignity. Pledging their allegiance and saluting our flag. Standing for the National Anthem. 

And drinking a scotch and water.

Because somewhere is a chicken coop filled not only with covert alcohol…but the sacrifices and courage of a Greater Generation. 

Thank you Jim and veterans everywhere. The Iowa Roadie salutes you.

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