Saturday, March 1, 2008

Two Years in Navy – Part Three

After ten months I was able to come home on leave. I got every thing ready so I could finish with my class even if I could not be there on the day of the graduation. I had a good time while on leave with all of the folks. A week before my leave was up and I was to return, I came down with a bad case of tonsillitis and a fever of 105. My brother Fred called my commanding officer about my illness and he was told to take me to the Charleston, SC Navel Hospital. I was in the hospital for a week; they removed my tonsils and then I was sent back to my duty station. I came out good on this deal because the Navy paid my way back to California. I was picked up in Los Angeles and driven all the way back up to China Seas. When I arrived, I discovered that some one had taken all of my clothes from my locker so I had to buy all new ones. Once again God had been looking out for me; I had the money from my return ticket to buy new clothes. I was able to get my job back and I had a good chance to get an advance in ranking. If that would have happened, I would have had to give up my job. I knew that I would be getting out of the Navy in about a year so it was not worth my losing the good job I had on base.

Every thing went well the rest of my tour of duty. I had a good time and there are some things that I would rather not put into this story, I will just keep those things to myself. God has already forgiven me and if He doesn’t remember them, why should I. Listen to me tell this story.

I would not lead you to believe that I spent two years in the Navy without dating. I had a few dates with Ramona Moss, Jeep was her nickname. She lived on the base with her parents and younger brother. One day I was called to send a truck over to housing to help a family move in. Until now I always sent someone else but a light went off in my head when I was told that it was a family that included a seventeen year old girl. I convinced one of my buddies to help me and we went to move the family into their housing unit. That day I met Ramona and her family. Later, I was invited to dinner for helping them move. Jeep often came to see me while I worked a side job as short order cook at the base commissary. The Navy workday consisted of working from seven o'clock a.m. until one o'clock p.m. The short day was a little boring and I could use some additional income so I worked at the commissary as a short-order cook which kept me busy and out of trouble. This is where Jeep and I hit it off pretty well. We had several dates but as time passed I could tell that she was not the person with which I wanted to spend the rest of my life. She was a very sweet girl and her whole family always treated me well. I never heard anything from her after my discharge from the Navy. We had a lot of young women on our base but I did not date anyone else. While moving the Moss Family, I found that I could check out a truck from the motor pool, put a couple pieces of furniture on it, drive all over the base, and not get stopped by the Military Police. After this discovery, I would check out a big truck for my two good buddies and me to have transportation for almost every weekend. We could go anywhere we wanted on or near the base. Listen to me tell this story.

I had an opportunity to get a plane ride from our base to Washington, DC and back in three weeks. I secured a fifteen day leave, hopped on the plane, and flew down to another base on the coast of California. After arrival I found out that the flight to DC. was canceled which left me with two choices, return to the base or keep traveling and go to North Carolina. I only had twenty-five dollars in my pocket and my mind told me to try to catch a ride across the good old US of A. I looked at a map, it did not look too far so I started hitchhiking home. With the right sign I was able to get a ride with a long haul trucker for about one hundred miles which started my trek home. At truck stops, drivers would find other drivers that could take me on the next legs of the trip. One of the good things about riding with them is that they always bought me my meals and would not let me spend any of my twenty five dollars. In Little Rock, AK, I saw a bus station so I checked to see what a ticket would cost to Statesville, NC. Since it would only cost a little over seventeen dollars, I was able to purchase a ticket and quickly board the next Greyhound bus to head home with seven dollars in my pocket. I had a checking account with one hundred and fifty dollars but no one would cash a check for me. I arrived home in six days which gave me two days at home before I had to head back to the base. Listen to me tell this story.

During the leave when I was visiting my brother Fred in Charlotte, I met a girl that lived in his neighborhood. I spent one evening at her house talking while eating popcorn and drinking Coke. Before dark, I headed back to Fred’s house for the night.

I returned by rail; this time I had a Pullman ticket which was much nicer than the others that I rode in before. I received a letter from the girl I had met in Charlotte. She would write me and I would write back. She told her dad that I wanted her to come to California so I could marry her and he thought that was alright. To my surprise, one day I received a letter from her saying that she would arrive in Los Angeles, CA the following week on Saturday and for me to meet her. I did not know what to do so I met her and took her back to the naval base. I found her a place to stay and paid one month rent for her. I was relieved when three weeks later she was married to a Marine. Once again God was looking out for me.

Howard Hughes got his Spruce Goose, the world’s largest sea plane, to fly a short ways during November 1947. He spent twenty-five million dollars to build the air craft and it was designed to carry troops and equipment but the war ended before it could be put to use. It only flew one mile over Long Beach harbor. This was the talk of the airmen that day. I was at Long Beach but I never did get to see the plane but heard about it from several of my friends.

A few weeks before I was discharged, I was assigned the duty of picking up a singer and escorting him around the base. That evening I took him to the show he was doing and afterwards I brought him back to his quarters. He was an entertaining guy on and off of the stage. The next morning I picked him up and took him to catch a plane to fly out. It was Bob Hope and he gave me a ten dollar tip; later on I found out that he was famous. Listen to me tell this story.

In April of 1948 I was discharged from the Navy and was given three hundred dollars mustering out pay, a bus ticket, and money for food to eat on the trip home. I headed home on a Greyhound Bus which ran day and night; it would stop long enough for us to get something to eat and to walk around a little before we would have to board again for another ride over a long stretch of road.

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