CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the middle of the breakfast rush at one restaurant, there's a trio that shares a deep appreciation of friendship. Their meetings have long been made up of french toast sticks, hot coffee, and good conversations. There's something very special about these Tuesday morning breakfasts.
Susan Murphy will tell you, being a server at a Clarksville Shoney's for 35 years has made her an expert on people's breakfast usual.
"I know their order before they even come in, sit down," she smiled. "I know what they want to drink."
There's one breakfast usual that's become special to Susan.
"One ticket. To me," said 89-year-old veteran Darrell Henderson, speaking to a server.
"I was gonna pay yours!" laughed fellow veteran, 90-year-old Amos Elrod.
"Yesterday was payday!" Darrell answered. "Money's plentiful right now."
Darrell is a Vietnam War veteran. Amos is a veteran of the Korean War. They met in 1962 and worked together for years at Fort Campbell.
Every first Tuesday of the month, the usual is for the men to meet up at the Shoney's on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard for a veterans breakfast. They've been doing this for 30 years. Susan's been their waitress the whole time.
"Those guys, they're family," Susan said.
"We just get together and tell war stories, y'know," Darrell said. "That's what old soldiers do."
"That's my early days," Darrell laughed, looking at an old picture. "I think there's a lot of years gone by. Had hair then too!"
"This is when I was in the Air Force!" Amos smiled, also looking at an old picture. "I was about 26, 27."
The truth is, years ago, the veterans breakfast was a whole lot bigger, with many vets who retired around 1991 and '92.
"People started droppin out due to dying," said Darrell. "The rest of them are all gone."
"It's like losing a family member," said Susan. "It's just heartbreaking."
"Now, he and I are the only ones left," said Darrell.
"When they're here, I know they're okay," said Susan. "I've got another month with them."
"Sit down here and tell me something," Darrell said as Susan walked over to his table.
"Well, I love ya!" said Susan.
"I said I wouldn't retire until they wasn't here anymore," she continued. "I will be here as long as they are. I would miss them too much."
"I'll be 90 in another week or so and he'll be 91 in two weeks," said Darrell. "We gonna truck as long as we can truck."
"As long as we're able to, I guess," said Amos.
Your breakfast usual might be any variety of things. These three have a usual they wouldn't trade for anything.
"They're my guys," Susan said.
Shoney's Chief Marketing Officer Gill Duff sent NewsChannel 5 a statement saying;
“Our country’s armed forces veterans have always been important to Shoney’s. We honor veterans, as well as the active military, every day throughout the year with a special discount. We actively seek veterans as potential franchisees for the brand. And, of course, our Veterans Day Breakfast, serving all vets a free breakfast at Shoney’s, is one of our biggest and favorite events of every year. It’s all done to say THANK YOU for their service to our country. We love to hear stories, like this one in Clarksville, about how Shoney’s serves as beacon for lasting friendships and how our community involvement has touched so many.”