Our hunt for New Jersey java focused our activities.
Each morning we watched as the beach denizens, robed in shorts and sweatshirts, bellied up to the coffee bar, wiping sleep from their eyes.
They then staggered outside in their flip-flops and coffee mugs, and deposited their rumps in colorful Adirondack chairs.
We surveyed the landscape of Jersey Shore natives—the vacationers had all returned home—tanned and relaxed in the warm breeze.
The tribe of java drinkers reminded me of the observations of Francis Parkman, an East Coaster, who wrote about the Sioux Indians during his sojourns on the Oregon Trail in 1846.
The settlers shared coffee with my Oglala relatives, who treated Parkman’s troupe with kindness.
Parkman describes supping with my forebear, Mahto-Tatonka, “the most powerful chief in the Oglala band.”
We shook hands with the visitors, and when we had finished our meal—for this is the orthodox manner of entertaining Indians, even the best of them—we handed to each a tin cup of coffee and a biscuit, at which they ejaculated from the bottom of their throats, How! how!, a monosyllable by which an Indian contrives to express half the emotions that he is susceptible of.
Alfred Jacob Miller’s 1858 painting called The Trapper’s Bride