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Sunday, November 25, 2012


August 1952...

Six weeks Basic Training have passed quickly.  Sewing on my new A3C stripes, I packed up my duffle bag, borderd the USAF bus for the Union Pacific Railroad Station in Oakland.  I should have been excited to be assigned directly to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas.  Every other member of my basic training flight was assigned to a technical school...another 6 months of training before they entered the real Air Force...but, I was not.

During mail call a two days before boarding the bus, I received a letter from Sam (yes, 'MY" Sam).  Bruce...I have awful news.  David and Bernie  both died yesterday in a car crash.  They were on their way to register for college..  Their car flipped and rolled many times.  Both David and Bernie were killed...

Dave and Bernie - we were the Kennewick High School Tennis Team -  were on their way to fulfill the dream that I had been go to college...; and now, both were gone.  Why, I ask myself have they been taken...I'm the criminal...I should be the one to die.  This thought has stayed with me to this day.  I have found no answer.

I boarded the train in Oakland.  My seat was in first class on a Pullman Sleeper Car.  Two sets of seats faced each other during the daytime.  My seating companion was a pretty girl a bit older than me.  She started many conversations...I, being abominably shy, was unable to look her in the eye...certainly, I could not possibly carry on a conversation.  She finally gave up and ignored me the rest of that first day on the trai;n.

At night, an overhead berth was pulled down, filling the top half of the open space.  Sliding curtains formed four separate sleeping areas - two below; two above.  I was assinged one of the top berths...the girl was in the other top berth. 

I was already asleep when I felt someone move my bunk.  The girl had climbed the ladder into her own bunk...separated from mine by the sliding curtain...she had accidentally moved my bunk.  Her light came on.  I lay still;  I heard the curtain slide, light falling on my closed eyes.  Opening my eyes, my companion, sitting only inches from my feet, smiling hugely at me, was completely nude.  I could only stare.  She put two fingers to her lips, blew me a kiss and clicked out her light.  I lay wide awake all the way to Green River, Wyoming, waiting for the curtain to slide never did.

In Green River, I changed trains. 

My train arrived in Wichita Falls that afternoon.  I boarded the waiting US Air Force Bus, which took me to Sheppard Air Force Base.  Reporting in to the Orderly Room, I was assigned a bunk in an enlisted men's barracks.  The next morning, I reported to work at the Staff Judge Advocate Office.  Without any further training, I began reporting Courts Martials...writing all that was said; then, typing the transcript. 

Free at last from the tight controls of basic training, I was free to spend my evenings without duties.  I caught the bus into Wichita Falls.  After walking around town, I stopped at the offices of a Lawyer, asking if there was an opening for a transcript typist.  I was immediately given a part time job typing from the shorthand notes of the civilian court reporter.  Each page I transcribed and typed - double spaced -, I received $1.00. 

Having worked since 6 years old, I had no social skills.  I let the girl on the train get away.  I was determined to do something about it.  Walking the streets of Wichita Falls, I came upon a ballroom dancing studio.  I got up my nerve, walked in and asked about taking dancing lessons.  From September through Christmas, I took two lessons a week.  Dance class became my most important existance.  Not only did I learn the Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango, but I also got to hold my gorgeous teachers - I had two teachers -  in my arms all the while. 

All too quickly, it came to an end.  Two days before Christmas, I received new orders:  I was to take two weeks leave, and report to the embarkation center in Oakland, California...from which I was to board a MSTS ship bound for Korea via Yokohama, Japan.

I again packed my duffle bag, boarded the train for Kennewick via Denver, Colorado.

Arriving in Kennewick on Christmas Day, I was informed I could not stay home.  I spent the next four days in the Public Library, returning home after dark.   On December 30, 1952, I again boarded the train for Oakland.

Dad and Mother stood together on the station platform...I could have sworn Dad was crying.  Also standing on that platform was Jeannie B.., now a Senior, and a long time friend of Sam.  As I climbed aboard, Jeannie ran up to me, gave me a first ever real hug...and said goodbye.

I began to wonder what I had missed  working day and night for years in the trucking business instead of learning some social skills. 

I was not to see Jeannie again...I have, however, located her within the past two years. 

* * * * *

Took a nice long walk through Bellingham first in over a week.  Already getting itchy to be on the road.  Settling back in is proving to be no cake walk.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why are your latest posts disappearing the next day?