Introduction to “Military Brats” – 5

I was drafted into the Marine Corps on October 26, 1945, and I served the Corps faithfully and proudly for twenty-one years.  I moved more than twenty times and I attended eleven schools in twelve years.  My job was to be a stranger, to know no one’s name on the first day of school, to be ignorant of all history and flow and that familial sense of relationship and proportion that makes a town safe for a child.

I don’t know when I ‘entered military duty,’ maybe in 1950 sometime.  We moved from Whitehouse to Selfridge AFB, MI – just up the road.  From then, until 1964 when I left home, I attended eleven schools twelve years; in 4 states, 3 countries and 1 possession.  The longest we ever lived anywhere was 3 years.

In 7th grade I became great friends with Jay Karp.  He always talked about Tampa, FL.  On and on he would go.  for a couple years we played together day in and day out.  We were on the same Little League team, the Yankees.  I always thought he was a dear friend…

In 1986 I flew into MacDill AFB, FL – just across the bay from Tampa.  After I got to the O’Club that night I settled into a phone booth, and looked him up.  And wouldn’t you know it, there he was!  Oh, how excited I was as he dialed his number.

When he answered, I introduced myself and told him we played together as kids.  He didn’t have a clue who I was.  Then I told him about the cookies his Mom used to make, and I was “spot on” with that, but he still couldn’t remember me.  I became a bit uncomfortable, and after a while just kinda went away… here I had “carried him around with me” all these years, and he couldn’t remember me.  Back into the bar, and soon everything was ‘okay,’ as it always was…

So, I know first hand, what Pat means with, ‘My job was to be a stranger that first day of school.’  There are times today I think I am a stranger to myself…



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