Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


              Today I’m writing about some of the interesting and funny experiences I’ve had during my 65 years. Reflecting on my birthday that officially places me in the “Senior Citizen” category, I found myself looking back on some of life’s experiences.

Case in point: Sledding with my brother, John. Now, here’s the situation. I’m the little brother by five years. We lived on Underhill Road in Milford, Connecticut. Our house was situated on a fairly steep slope about a block from the Long Island Sound. A sidewalk ran in front of our house, which, on the upper end, connected with the street. The lower end ran down to another road which was the main drag into town. In the winter this sidewalk would become slippery from ice and snow. Because it was angled downward rather severely, we used to grab our sleds and zip down the walk. One problem - the sidewalk ended partway down and became a long series of elongated stairs descending to the street below. So what we would do is have two guys placed on either side of the walk where the stairs began. Linking arms, they would catch the speeding sledder, operating much as the arresting gear on an aircraft carrier stops a jet. Since I was the youngest, I went last. My brother and his buddy were positioned to “arrest” me in my slide. All was well as I ran with my sled, diving onto the wooden boards supported by metal rails, thundering down the sidewalk. What a thrill! However, when I arrived at the arresting place, John and his friend quickly pulled their arms away as I sailed passed, a horrified and stunned look on my face. With that much forward momentum you became slightly airborne until your sled hit the first step at which point you became airborne again, sans your sled, bouncing on your chest in a most undignified manner down the stairs. I can still hear my brother and his friend howling in laughter at my comical descent.

Another story had to do with our sister, Joy’s 10th birthday. Our folks took the family into New York City for dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel. Located on the corner of Madison Avenue and 45th Street in midtown Manhattan, it was built in 1924 in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt. The Roosevelt housed the first guest “pet facility” and child care service in The Teddy Bear Room and had the first in-house doctor. In 1947, the Roosevelt became the first hotel to have a television set in every room. But the primary reason for our going there for this birthday celebration was due to the fact that the famed band leader, Guy Lombardo, and his band performed there in the evenings. Another famous band leader also began his career at the Roosevelt – Lawrence Welk. Our table was maybe thirty feet from this famous band. During our dinner, Guy Lombardo came over to our table and wished Joy a happy birthday. Only a couple of years before I had begun to play trumpet at school, so to meet a musician of Mr. Lombardo’s stature left me practically speechless. I remember him patting me on the head and encouraging me to keep practicing my horn. I did and received a scholarship to college on my horn. Later in my early 20’s during Marine Corps Infantry Training I was selected to be the bugler which primarily consisted of blowing reveille every morning at 4:30, and playing taps every night at 10:00.

This last story has to do with Thanksgiving. It was the summer of 1962. We had been in Europe since 1960, so we decided to come back to the States for a visit. While in the New York area with friends and family, my mother’s dad, Granddaddy Lake to me, passed away in Dallas, Texas. Mom and I took the train from New York’s Grand Central Station to Dallas. We stayed to help her mom make the necessary adjustments, which meant I was starting school at Highland Park Junior High. I was beginning my freshman year (Texas had Junior High from 7th – 9th grades).We had a small apartment next to Southern Methodist University (SMU) where John was beginning his freshman year. Through a complicated series of events which are much too convoluted to explain, I was in the apartment by myself for a number of weeks before rejoining mom and pop at our home in Norway. John spent lots of time with me, particularly in the evenings, and my aunt and uncle also lived nearby. At Thanksgiving Aunt Edith called to tell me that I was to fly out of Love Field for Norway in a few days. The day of my departure they picked me up to have Thanksgiving dinner with them before I boarded the plane. On the plane we were served a Thanksgiving dinner as well. We landed at Idyllwild Airport (now JFK international airport) in New York. With a five-hour layover, long-time friends from New Jersey picked me up. We went back to their home where I ate yet another Thanksgiving dinner. Back to Idyllwild, I boarded the flight from New York to Copenhagen, Denmark, then to Goteborg, Sweden, and finally arriving in Oslo, Norway. You guessed it! On the plane crossing the Atlantic we were served another Thanksgiving dinner. My folks met me at the airport in Oslo. What a welcomed sight! When we arrived home mom served up my fifth and final Thanksgiving dinner! It’s a wonder that I still love to eat turkey, stuffing and all the fixings, but I surely do. And it makes me look forward to Jesus’s Marriage Supper of the Lamb which awaits believers in heaven. Now that will truly be glorious!

Thanks for letting me share some remembrances with you this week. Be blessed!

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