Tag Archives: John Coyne

The Big Bad Brown Swiss

by John Coyne

I was seven or eight years old when I got so drunk at a family party that I ran out of our farm house, down to the barn, and attacked our big brown Swiss cow with a broom.

I don’t remember this act of animal cruelty, but the next morning, when I woke from a stupor, my mother—as well as my brothers and sisters—told me in detail how I had impishly sipped booze left in cans and glasses on the dining room table until I was so intoxicated my suppressed rage at one of our milking cows exploded into violence. Continue reading


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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel

by John Coyne

In the final days of our in-country Peace Corps training in Ethiopia, we had a
celebration dinner at the Guenet Hotel in the Populari section of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Guenet Hotel, even in 1962, was one of the older hotels in Addis Ababa. It wasn’t in the center of town, but south of Smuts Street and down the hill from Mexico Square, several miles from where we were housed in the dormitories of Haile Selassie I University. While out of the way, this small, two-story rambling hotel, nevertheless, had a two-lane, American-style bowling alley; tennis courts; and most surprising of all, an African lion in its lush, tropical gardens.

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To Die On Kilimanjaro

by John Coyne

When I was first at the Blue Marlin Hotel at the edge of the Indian Ocean in the summer of ’63 the hotel was full of Brits. It was the last days before Kenya’s independence. By the late Sixties the Brits had been replaced by German tourists. Today, I’m told, the village, and most of Kenya, suffers from a lack of tourists because of Al-Shabbaab.

My story begins, however, in the early ‘70s when the hotel was full of Germans and where the few English speaking tourists gravitated to one end of the bar. It was there that I met Phillip and his beautiful wife, April, and their two lovely young daughters. They were finishing up dinner and I was dining alone and we started up a conversation, as English speakers strangers will when they are outnumbered. Continue reading

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