|On 1 November 1984 I pinned on silver Lt. Col. maple leaves. To celebrate we held a party at our house; “The Changing of the Leaves.” (Major’s leaves are gold, and it was fall, after all.) Sue’s folks had driven in from Colorado to help with the festivities. I was thrilled, for I had tended bar at her Dad’s promotion party to Colonel; and now he was returning the favor! The party was set for Friday night, 2 Nov 1984. Sue and her folks had to run errands mid-afternoon, so I was alone to prepare the house. That translated to drinking beer, and maybe running the vacuum around a little bit – you know, just enough to get those tell tale sweeper prints in the carpet. Around 2 or so, the phone rang. “Is this Bob?” the caller asked. “Why, yes it is,” I replied.” Well, I just called to say congratulations on your promotion,” he went on to say.”Who is this?” I asked.”Oh, it doesn’t matter,” he said, “what matters is to see a ‘good guy’ get promoted,” and he hung up.
“That was strange,” I thought to myself, and went about my beer – ahhh, sweeping. Then the phone rang again.
“Hi Bob?” the caller asked again. Only this time it was a different caller. I began to suspect someone from Headquarters was playing an elaborate joke, so I played along.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Well, it’s just great to see you promoted!” he said.
“Who is this?” again I asked. Now I was curious.
“Never mind Sir, just enjoy your day,” he responded as he hung up.
As I was trying to sort it all out, the phone rang again. This time however, the caller was female and she asked, “Is this Bob?”
“Why yes, it is!” I replied.
“Why are you lonely?” she asked. That threw me. Where would she get that?
“I’m not lonely,” I replied.
“Well, I hope you have a great day; you deserve it!” she then said and she hung up.
And then the calls really began coming; one after another. And all with one of two themes; ‘congratulations on your promotion,’ or, ‘why are your lonely?’ I could hardly sit down. The sweeping had gone by the wayside long ago. I must have received 25 – 30 calls, then I began thinking. “What would create an situation where seemingly folks from all different walks of life would call to offer congratulations? Then it hit me – a classified ad!
I grabbed the paper, and began canvasing the classifieds. And it wasn’t long before I found it:
“Oh Bewdy” was the expression I had on my license tag.
“Lonely Pilot Bob” has finally been promoted. Please Call & Congratulate Him. Day of Night. 659-4080.”
And the calls kept coming!
When Sue and her folks got home, I told them about the calls, and they kept coming. Around 5:30 or 6:00 I began to receive calls from the ‘Happy Hour’ crowds. One group of secretaries invited me downtown to “cure my loneliness!” And the calls continue.
Great gag! And I knew who set it up – DiRago! Could only be. And sure enough, it was. He ran that damn thing for 3 days. And the calls kept coming!
When I decided to do a blog, I went through quite a few names for it. All taken. Then I stumbled across this, and it stuck. Am I lonely today? Generally no, not really. However I do on occasion, get terribly lonely for the camaraderie and the “days of yesteryear.” Writing about it has always helped me through those periods when I miss “the jet,” the flying, and most of all, you.
For those of you who know me, you know how much I have always loved ‘telling a story.’ Now I am in my element! And to think, I hated writing OERs (Officer Efficiency Reports). And I never took writing in college because I was afraid either ‘you would laugh at me,’ or ‘what I had to say, didn’t matter.’ Today, I hope you find laughter in what I have to say!
What I intend to do here is, share stories I have collected over the years. A lot of you will recognize the “players” in a few of them; some of you are the “players.” I might also include other stories, or short ‘snippets’ I’ve picked up over the years on Air Force pilots. The idea is not to embarrass anyone; but to reflect on how very blessed we all were – to have flown for the Air Force, when we did…
My second motivation for writing is to leave ‘something’ for my grand kids – to know me by. Right from my heart…
So, ‘climb in the jet with me,’ or ‘hop on my wing,’ or saddle up next to me in “the Auger,” and we’ll share some memories of a much simpler time – a time before ‘dropped calls!’
PS: When I reported for work, that following Monday, “Lonely Pilot Bob” had been painted in my normal parking spot!” The gag just kept giving…