Troops in the Persian Gulf are eagerly awaiting letters from home, and a Jackson Hole bartender is doing all she can to make sure those troops hear from somebody.
Margene Jensen often won't let her customers have their drinks until they write a note to the U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia."Several people came in who had children and people they knew in Saudi Arabia. It became the talk of the bar," she explained. "This is what we decided to do to help."
For about three months, Jensen has been compiling letters, drawings and jokes from customers and sending copies - as many as 15 pages every two weeks - to a growing number of soldiers with ties to the Jackson Hole area.
Some patrons balk at the suggestion they write someone they don't know, but the idea has caught on quickly with most people, Jensen said.
"Pretty soon they are writing and writing, and they come back and write more," she said. "People have loved it; they really get involved."
Regular customers have developed regular features and the offerings are as different as their authors, Jensen said, noting the ongoing saga of Kevin Crow's fly-invaded cabin has become a troop favorite.
"We now have two overkill weapons in our arsenal, a vacuum cleaner and a can of industrial strength Raid," a recent installment read. "The vacuum cleaner trick is sort of time-consuming, but really fun to do. Have you ever seen the expression on a fly's face while he is being sucked into a hose? It's great."
U.S. Navy Lt. Bret Davison, who recently served in the area, called the letters hilarious and said they were copied and passed throughout his squadron.
"When you get in the military, sometimes you wonder why you are doing it in the first place," he said. "But when you get something like this, it makes everything - even the days in the desert - worthwhile."
Jensen plans to wage her letter-writing campaign as long as American troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia.