Had they lived for seven more months, today we would have been celebrating my parents’ 60th anniversary. Last fall Mom had already been thinking about the upcoming event and was worried about how we were going to celebrate it with Dad’s condition and all. Now, here we are today, left in their absence to note the day and celebrate or not, as we choose.
I’d like to share with you a short excerpt from my work in progress—Where Memories Meet. My dad wanted me to write his story. From about 2008, until my dad couldn’t speak coherently anymore I interviewed him about his life. At this point in his story, he is engaged to marry my mother, but a date has not been set. He has been drafted and sent to Fr. Jackson, S.C. for basic training. He did not want to marry my mother before he left because we were still fighting, and some were dying, in the Korean War. He did not want to leave my mother a widow if he got sent to Korea and was killed in action.
The following is my dad’s story in his own words.
A proposal and a wedding
I got to Fort Jackson on March 28th and left at the end of July. I started basic training on Monday April 6th and finished on Wednesday June 3rd. Then, a few days later, I started Motor Maintenance School. The maintenance of jeeps, trucks, or whatever. Wheel School.
I was in the military school when I found out that I wasn’t going to go to the Far East. If you were going over there you had to get the cholera shot. Everybody I knew who was going to Korea had already had their cholera shot. And I never did get one. I surmised that I wasn’t going to go to the Far East.
I called your mother from Ft. Jackson. I stood in the g-damn line half the night to get to use the telephone, milling around the damn telephones with maybe a hundred other guys. And I waited until I could get a telephone and I called her. I asked, “Are you sure you want to get married?” And she went, “Huh?” That didn’t sound right to me. She has always denied that, but that’s actually what she did. She claims she couldn’t hear me.
She eventually came down to South Carolina. Got in an airplane and flew down to Fort Jackson. We got a motel room at the Wade Hampton. It was right down at the capital of Columbia, S.C. I got a one-day pass to go to town. I think she was only there one day. Then we got her back out to the airport and she flew back to Vandalia. It was really shocking that your grandmother and your grandfather allowed it. She was only 19 years old. She’d never been out of the state of Ohio prior to that.
So she went on home.
We corresponded of course, about what had to happen to get married. That all worked out and she got her blood tests and I had mine before I left Ft. Jackson. That was a trip—a lot of running around to do on the base to get that stuff taken care of. I had to clear a lot people. I got all that done.
When I got finished with the school, I got leave. I got transferred to Fort Knox, Ky to the armored school and I had a two-week delay in route, is what they called it. You’d get a piece of paper saying you had to be somewhere on this date. I had to be in Ft. Knox by August 12th.
I finished school on July 31st and I left for home on August 1st. I got a cab and went out to the airport in Columbia S.C. and got on a propeller airplane. It was a military plane. We didn’t pay for any transportation. I flew to Vandalia. I believe that was the first time I ever flew.
I came home and got married. The wedding was on August 4th. We had a little bit of a honeymoon in Chicago then I went back—to Ft. Knox, Ky.
I’m thankful for the dedicated years Mom and Dad spent together and I hope that there is a place after our life here on earth ends where they are happily together still.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, from a very grateful daughter.