Along the road to growing-up
I remember a spaniel pup.
The days passed from months to years.
At five I walk the path to school,
Playing, sharing, learning the rule.
My elders die, yet through my tears,
I continue on to manhood.
At eighteen, on the brink I stood;
New eyes see, as the future nears.
(Nove Otto poem: 9 lines 8 syllables per line aacbbcddc)
I turned eighteen while in boot camp. We may have noted it, I've just forgotten. If I'd been back in the 'burg in New York State, where, at the time, the drinking age was 18, you know I'd have celebrated in a tavern and gotten drunk for sure. It was a Monday and as such I can surmise that it was a day filled with classes, marching, pushups, cleaning and polishing. If I got together with Gerry after supper at the geedunk for a celebratory milkshake or not, I've no recollection.
Interesting how I can recall many of the events during that time but have zero recollection of my coming of age birthday. It happened in the latter half of boot training and I do remember some things from that time, yet, really only snippets and bits and pieces.
I remember going on 'liberty" one weekend; I went home with Bill Regan. While there, I remember his mother cutting her finger with a paring knife while peeling an apple in the kitchen. Bill and I were just leaving to go to a high school football game at his alma mater. Some time later that night we went to a house party at the home of one of Bill's friends. They (who ever they were?), probably at Bill's request, had fixed me up on a blind date. That kinda fizzled, since I don't have much recollection of that interaction. Probably because she spent the evening avoiding me. But the party wasn't a total loss; I spent the evening telling war stories with Bill and some of his friends. War stories being football exploits. ("Liberty" is like time off, a weekend pass so to speak. In the photo L to R.; Joe Barile, Bill Regan, Robert Messa, R. Groah, rel, and Richard Forte. We were on our way to the train station to embark on our first liberty.)
I remember that Gerry was on the recruit drill team. I remember a push-up contest with the first platoon leader from our sister company. He an I were both physical fitness nuts. The DI's stopped us after both company's members had collapsed trying to keep up with us. The contest was deemed a draw. I was on our tug of war team, but have forgotten if we won or not.
I remember graduation:
We graduated inside due to cold weather. I remember the pomp and ceremony and I can still recall that immense sense of pride of accomplishment, but more than that, my breast was swollen with pride in the knowledge that I was more than I'd ever been before, that I was a part of a huge team, something far greater than myself, most members of which I'd never meet, yet we shared a commonality of esprit de corps, of knowing that , our country had and was entrusting us with their safety. I was a Sailor in the United States Navy. I was a man, with a future. I was a grown up:
I was a veteran!
next: Hospital Corps School