Working AT The NCO Club
By Jim O'Brien

Dreux Air Base NCO Club
We had a terrific NCO Club at Dreux and I worked there part time in the evening. I believe the building was originally slated to be a mess hall. It was always bustling yet with a very comfortable environment, friendly and a popular gathering spot for NCOs and families since the base was out in the countryside. Membership was open to all NCOs and dues most reasonable. I first bussed tables, later worked as a waiter then bartender. The club had a dress code of course which required males to wear coat and tie in the evening, but generally most wore suits and many their uniforms. The ladies always looked lovely and stylish in smart outfits or dresses. No fatigues were allowed in the main club at night.

Full time military staff at the club all wore civilian clothes while working. The club manager, MSgt. Sawyer was a super manager and a real gentleman, always dressed in a smart suit with white shirt and tie. He was very personable and had an attractive German wife. Alas, some months later, he was spirited away to manage the O Club. The civilian staff were mostly from Germany who I was told had previously worked at Rhien Main. Sgt Sawyer's leads were Ruth and Fritz, we had local French employees and I also a remember a young Polish waitress. Part time employees made up the majority of help and comprised of off-duty GIs and dependent wives.

Band at Dreux NCO Club

There was a small house band from Holland with a Dutch female vocalist who had a nice voice and sang all the popular songs of the day. On western nights the musical entertainment was provided by SSgt Tucker from the eleventh squadron with his country band. They were great group and the crowd, always loud and noisy loved them. A variety of entertainers who were making the European military circuit visited on a regular schedule with comedians always being a big favorite. We even had a popular all girls swing band from England visit us. They had a good repertoire of music playing dance jitterbug and vocals giving us enjoyment for a week.

Slots were a big drawing for the club with some people just standing and playing the machines for the whole evening, with us serving their drinks, but not for free. If someone hit a jackpot we always got an extra good tip. There was a nicely decorated dining room with quite a good menu, everything from steaks to burgers. It had a pleasant casual atmosphere with friendly service for the entire family. Drinks were available from the bar.

I can recall one of the waitresses I enjoyed working with in the dinning room, a wonderful lady named Erma Lorello. She helped me a great deal, taught me the importance of being pleasant and providing the customers with attentive service. But as a waiter, if I had the choice I preferred to work in the main club rather than the dinning room. The atmosphere main in club was much more relaxed some just listening to the band or dancing, others drinking, most men smoking, and lots of loud talking with exuberant laughter going on and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. For those who enjoyed a drink we served both American and German beer, then highballs, such as tom collins, scotch and soda, gin and tonic, rum and coke etc; an unusual exception being, scotch and milk. Drinks were 15 cents, call booze 20 cents. People were not into wine then and I never once remember a request for a bottle or even a glass of wine, on a very special occasion I would serve a bottle of champagne. The ladies always enjoyed those fancy mixed drinks of the time like brandy alexanders and grasshoppers. At the end of the evening of course we had to clear all tables and tidy up before we were released. Any drinks that had been left untouched were placed on a designated table in the dish washing area. I often wondered what happened to all those drinks.

Working at the Club enabled me to meet a lot of nice people from different organizations around the base, senior NCOs and their families whom I would not have otherwise encountered. I really enjoyed the interaction with the customers and all the people who were employed there. The NCO Club was a big attraction for all and an important part of the life and moral of the NCOs and their dependents at Dreux. It was great place to work.

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