It's 9:30 in the morning and down at the end of the bar there is a customer drinking something in a cup. By 10 a.m. there are four more gentlemen at the bar - some are drinking coffee and some mixed drinks. However, the elixir they most enjoy imbibing is the friendship and camaraderie of beginning the day in the company of friends.

Greg Brown who sits at the bar wearing a red baseball cap says, "This is the best place in the world. You've got camaraderie, friendship, and it's a good cause. Money goes to blind kids."

John Bergstrom agrees, "We come down here to visit."

"There are 17 aeries in this district," says Leonard Cox. "We get together and the money goes to charity."

In fact the Aerie, which is what the Fraternal Order of the Eagles calls each chapter, donates all proceeds to several different charities. To the best of her memory Kathy Lavender, the bartender for the morning, lists the following charities: the Max Baer Heart Fund, Firefighters' Quest for Burn Survivors, Ronald McDonald House, the City of Hope, and other charities that do research on Alzheimer's, diabetes, child abuse, kidney disease, and childhood blindness. The aerie also gives scholarships, and food baskets that go a little farther than the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. At Christmas there are gifts for the children and both Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meals are provided plus groceries for a week.

Jack Twichell says he is free to spend several hours with friends at the bar every morning, "Everyone is real friendly."

William Schieffer jokes about visiting his handiwork. He is responsible for constructing the center island in the bar where all the liquor is kept and drinks are mixed.

In spite of the somewhat unsavory appearance of things, these men are of noble cause. They belong to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and this aerie - a lofty nest used by eagles according to Webster's Dictionary - is where the ideals of God, home and country, liberty and truth, and justice and equality for all are an indelible part of their everyday ritual. You see the Eagles do fund raisers on a regular basis to promote their ideals as expressed in their creed.

They do dinners, dances, and just about anything that will help them support their causes. They do breakfasts for Firefighters Quest, a program to help burn victims. The police and fire departments get together and after enjoying breakfast at the FOE aerie they caravan through the High Desert stopping at various fire stations and other locations where they accept money for Quest. A Battle of the Bands earned $4,800 that the Eagles were able to donate. The aerie sold raffle tickets and T shirts to raise the money.

Though the FOE may seem obscure to many, it has been around for a while. It was established in 1898 and counted as one of its members Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the signing of the Social Security Act in 1935, Roosevelt gave the pen to the Eagles in appreciation for their support of the Social Security Act. And indeed the FOE is a worldwide organization doing work around the world to promote their ideals. In 1953 they founded the Eagle Haus in free Berlin, and in 1984 they established Feed the Hungry in Africa.

More currently, they dedicated the memorial plaque for those who lost their lives in World War II at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1996.

If it is possible to have fun and do good, the Eagles will be there, and if they sometimes seem a little tipsy while nestled in the comforts of friendship, just know that they soar when it comes to helping those who need it.