Coffee with Cagney

by David Paul
(Methuen, MA)

It's 1949, and I'm ten. This is November and the days are filled with raw air and the feeling of Christmas coming. A bell jingles over the door of Hershey’s Coffee Shop as my father and I barge in out of the cold.

Hershey's is very small. There are three little tables on one wall, and there is a counter with six stools across from them.

It's early in the morning and the place is very crowded. It's all men here, most of them piled around tables that can't even be seen. Some are hunched over the tiny counter, plopped on stools that are too little for big people.

I like being here. It's bright and warm and I can sniff in the delicious smells of doughnuts and hot coffee. My father grabs my hand and leads me to the only empty stools. He tells me to sit on the one by the wall and he scoots on the one next to me.

Hershey comes over. He is red-faced and bald. He rubs his hands on his apron and looks at us, waiting for my father to tell him something.

My father is wearing a mackinaw jacket and a gray hat with the brim pulled down, like James Cagney wears when he's being a gangster, and he smells kind of soapy scrubbed. I can smell him more than the other smells of coffee and doughnuts and I'm happy to be in this place with him.

"Coffee," my father says, "and give us a couple of them crullers."

Hershey grins at me and he says "So this is your boy, Red?"

"Yep, this is my boy, David. And he can have a cup of coffee too, to go with his cruller. He's getting big enough for coffee. Put a lot of milk in it, so it's not too hot."

I drink the coffee and eat the cruller, and everything is bright and warm. It is swell to be with my father and to be around all these noisy men. Someday I'll be all grown up, just like my father and all these men.

Comments for Coffee with Cagney

Click here to add your own comments

Sep 20, 2016
terrible NEW
by: Anonymous

THIS SUCKS

Aug 18, 2016
Atmosphere and Mood NEW
by: Betty R Anderson

Coffee with Cagney was refreshing, for it created a mood that added to the story. The atmosphere or scene engrossed the characters, creating feelings that the readers owned to the last word.

Jun 21, 2016
Massachusetts NEW
by: Christine

I adored this little memory blurb. Being from Mass myself, this brought me back to my own childhood. I can feel the vinyl of the stool I am gently turning on...left-right, left-right. I too smell the coffee...

Sep 24, 2015
ummm NEW
by: Write4life

bleh. bleh. bleh.

Jun 24, 2015
Coffee NEW
by: Anonymous

Good work.. U created da image of ur place in readers' mind. Keep going. U hv da talent to write . I could picture da place in my mind

Apr 14, 2015
Interesting NEW
by: Anonymous

While your wording was somewhat interesting in nature.., I did find that this was a wonderful tidbit and was descriptive in the best of ways

Oct 10, 2014
well done NEW
by: Anonymous

I love this description. I feel like this memory is my own.
I can smell it.
Hear it.
I can taste the sharp coldness of the air.
The muggy warmness the shop.

Well done. :)

Sep 20, 2014
Nothing like the smell of coffee ;) NEW
by: Jade Pisani

Nice writing and inspirational. Thankyou.
I am currently writing a memoir and it is nice to have come across your writing.
Your images were great and I really liked the use of the other senses too.
I hope you continue.
Cheers.

Jul 30, 2013
Good one NEW
by: Misti


Smell

Coffe with cagney is a very lucid wriing.Everybody in their life time have the smell of coffe.So it seems we r in the part of the story.Hopeful with coffe and grew up with the smell.More we grow more we find the taste of life.Rhanks for the narrative write up.

Jul 28, 2013
Coffee With Cagney NEW
by: anonymous

I love your vivid description! It engages the 5 senses completely. I can see myself sitting in a corner of the coffee shop watching everything played out. I would also like to know more about what happens later on in the book though, so perhaps you could also comment on that next time.

Jul 02, 2013
Could have smelt better NEW
by: Nerdacus

Very descriptive. It paints a vivid picture in the mind's eye. I think that it might have been better if there were more smells described. Some people have audio memories, and some have photographic memories, but just about everyone has very intense memories involving smell. Good overall, though.

May 08, 2013
Coffee and Cagney NEW
by: Anonymous

I love how it feels like Christmas outside, but then in Hershey's it's warm and inviting. Awesome how you told the reader about the smells and how you described the dad. Love your writing! keep it up!

May 08, 2013
Coffee and Cagney NEW
by: Anonymous

I love how it feels like Christmas outside, but then in Hershey's it's warm and inviting. Awesome how you told the reader about the smells and how you described the dad. Love your writing! keep it up!

Apr 24, 2013
Heart Warming NEW
by: Michelle

A touching story that made me miss my deceased dad.
We used to love simply enjoying coffee together,
albeit at Tim Horton's coffee shop or the mall.
Michelle from Wellington, Ontario Canada

Apr 23, 2013
vivid and real NEW
by: Anonymous

It really felt like I was there along with Hershey and Red. But I wonder why Hershey went there in the first place? Anyway, it had beautiful word choice
and I liked the feel of the place. Busy and mysterious, something you'd like to know about.

Dec 13, 2012
good...but could have been better. NEW
by: lyn

The story did indeed focus on the senses which I believe is always a good tool to connect with readers. The more vivid the scene the more they can visualize and in some cases even identify with it.
However, I thought that some of the sentences seemed a bit contrived.

Dec 13, 2012
good...but could have been better. NEW
by: lyn

The story did indeed focus on the senses which I believe is always a good tool to connect with readers. The more vivid the scene the more they can visualize and in some cases even identify with it.
However, I thought that some of the sentences seemed a bit contrived.

Nov 04, 2012
b4 starbucks NEW
by: noseblob

Does anyone actually leave constructive criticism, or just a bunch of syrupy compliments?
I thought that David Hershey would have been too busy to be interested in Red's son, but courteous enough to show interest. But that wasn't felt. Men piled around tables? Were they actually seated atop one another? Not good. Soap and donuts? Good. 1949 in a coffee shop and there isn't any mention, among the variety of aromas, of cigarette smoke. Was the shop warm inside or was it as raw as outside?

Oct 14, 2012
Coffe with Cagney NEW
by: Darlene

I really enjoyed the "feel" of this piece. The name Hershey really got my smell and taste buds all confused because I started picturing Hershey bars. It was a great confusion that kept me focused on the story line and settling into the room, the temperature, the feeling and just the plain security of having a "treat with Dad". What I'd like to hear more of is David's relationship with his Dad "Red". I also wanted to hear more about Red. I loved the way this piece invited me to be a part of the cruller and coffee and the buzz of the room. Thank you! It was a joy to read xoxoxoxo

Oct 14, 2012
Coffe with Cagney NEW
by: Darlene

I really enjoyed the "feel" of this piece. The name Hershey really got my smell and taste buds all confused because I started picturing Hershey bars. It was a great confusion that kept me focused on the story line and settling into the room, the temperature, the feeling and just the plain security of having a "treat with Dad". What I'd like to hear more of is David's relationship with his Dad "Red". I also wanted to hear more about Red. I loved the way this piece invited me to be a part of the cruller and coffee and the buzz of the room. Thank you! It was a joy to read xoxoxoxo

Sep 06, 2012
Felt it! NEW
by: Author101

I felt like was there, too! However, most of your sentences were just simple, making some parts a little boring to read. Otherwise, it was great! You are a great writer, so keep it up!

Aug 02, 2012
LOVE IT NEW
by: Anonymous

I loved it! I felt like i was right there!

Jul 15, 2012
Actually, a fine piece of work NEW
by: Jonathan Kent

I never usually comment on peoples work as I don't feel qualified enough, however I feel even I can tell that this is a wonderfully written piece of literature and I would like to congratulate you. Fully deserved to win the prize. I wonder if you will take this story any further and if so will you be letting your friends on CWN.com know about it first? I am sure many would be happy to purchase a novel of this quality.

Mar 23, 2012
No Literature Fraud Here NEW
by: David Paul

It's possible that Bonnyphonic, having posted anonymously, afterwards decided to use a screen name. Hardly significant at this late date.


Mar 23, 2012
Is this even accurate? NEW
by: Anonymous

I wonder why the comments by "Bunnyphonic" and then "Anonymous" right underneath it, said the exact same thing word for word. It must be because anyone, even the writer, can post as many phony compliments as they want. They should fix this.

Cool story but seeing that just make the winner seem false.

Jan 22, 2012
First time at this site NEW
by: Sungarnet

All my life I have wanted to learn to write, I think I have alot to say :)This was so well put together. It put me right there and made me think of something from my childhood to write about. It conveyed so much in such a short time.

Oct 31, 2011
Top story.
by: Pippab

I enjoyed your heart warming story very much.

Oct 27, 2011
vivid and impressive.
by: philemon

used the sense organs perfectly with literature.

Aug 08, 2011
Loved it
by: Bunnyphonic

Oh, this truly warmed my heart and made my day! Thank you for such a sweet story. Endearing and vivid in every way that good fiction should be.

Aug 08, 2011
Loved it
by: Anonymous

Oh, this truly warmed my heart and made my day! Thank you for such a sweet story. Endearing and vivid in every way that good fiction should be.

May 27, 2011
GOOD WORK
by: AWURIKI YEBOAH.

very impressive.

May 05, 2011
Great stuff
by: Every(wo)man

It was the kind of story that i wish could have continued. I smelled, tasted and felt on my skin all that your words described. I believe you have a memoir in the making. Love the characters.

Jan 21, 2011
Beautiful
by: Meher Ansari

It's a beautiful story of a ten years old boy who is grown up enough to drink coffee -- with more milk. No wonder, he wishes to grow up and for ever remembers the noisy men and the smell of coffee! So very true to life.

Jan 02, 2011
Cool
by: Leanne

Definitely a talented writer. With more nurturing you could go along way!

Dec 04, 2010
Wonderful
by: Lisa Clayton Williams

I am new to the site and am just now reading this....love your writing style. I felt like I was there.

Nov 30, 2010
WOW
by: Chel

this is brilliant. You are very talented. I really felt as if I was sat next to the ten year old you in that coffee shop. I will reread this whenever I need my spirits lifted in a hurry.

I really hope to see more of your work someday

Oct 18, 2010
smelling the coffee.
by: Ellen-Jo

Even though I've never physically went there, this mornig I was smelling your smells, thank you for that

Sep 30, 2010
Lovely Memory
by: Glynis Smy

A lovely descriptive memoir piece. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 29, 2010
Wonderful, vivid writing
by: Donna

Beautifully written.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Memoir Writing.