The middle of the 3 hangars was our work place at HU-4.
The 2 hangars with the sunset was across the way from the 3 hangars.
The last time we left me, I was leaning against a push broom in the passage way of the HU-4 Squadron administration section.
I got on friendly terms with several people from Personnel, Dick, the commander’s yeoman, Sam, the legal yeoman, and Ron of the Information and Educational office.
Sam and Ron were both from Minneapolis. Dick was a premature gray haired young man who was an art college professor in Michigan and his father owned a car dealership in East Lansing.
Sam and Ron were cube mates next to my cube. Sam’s voice was high an effeminate and Ron’s voice was deep and masculine. To hear them kid each other reminded me of the Odd Couple, except they were both very articulate.
Dick the college professor always had a deep witty comment to make about everything. Some of his comments you might not catch on to until hours later.
I have a lousy handwriting, and if it gets cold I cannot even figure out what I was trying to say, so I always type whenever possible. So, when I sent letters home, I would go into either Personnel or Information & Education and type my letters – being out in the hall, I pretty much knew if their office officers’ habits and if one had just walked out or not.
I kept my job as janitor of the admin hallway for only a short time. I don’t remember how long, but I don’t think it was over seven or eight work days. When one of the men in Personnel left, either his active duty time was up or he was transferred, when they looked around for a replacement – someone who could type - they saw me in the back of the room typing a letter home and looked no more.
I started working in Personnel the next day.
By now I was friends with Dick who had a car and Sam who had a car. They both showed Don and I the area. Don was just a week ahead of me. We got to see more of NYC, through the guide of Dick. He showed us Wall Street, the NY Stock Exchange, Battery Park, more museums, like the Museum of Modern Art. Sam took us to see the play FANTASTICKS which was just getting started good as an Off-Broadway play in the Village.
We also went to Sea Side Heights, to ponder our thoughts at the ocean, which was 13 miles away. We went to movies in Lakewood, about 5 miles north, bars in Toms River, about 5 miles east, whatever at Atlantic City, about 40 miles south, Philadelphia, 40 miles west, and above that was New Hope, Pennsylvania, which was a artsy kind of place. New Hope was in Bucks County, Pa., I remember reading a book “Devil In Bucks County” which was pretty good and I believe it helped us to serve sort of a guide.
In the Personnel Office it didn’t take long for me to figure out the system. The non-petty officers did all the work, the head petty officer, in our case, a first class named Obie, would check over our work and give it back for corrections, otherwise, give it to the division officer, a Lieutenant – two silver bars, who would come in once a day and sign papers and off he would go again. The officers usually were flying helicopters in training, or hanging out in the Officer’s Lounge. That is the way of the world, those who work the less get paid the most. You get paid according to the pecking order, not your skills or the amount of work.
One Sunday we rode down to Delaware to the DuPont estate to see a fountain concert.
Then, I started thinking of all these places within driving distance, I needed my car, which was a PV544 Volvo. I decided to apply for leave and go home get it.
My friend Monty’s mother owned a PV544 Volvo and I was impressed with how synchronized the motor and gears were I wanted one and bought one eventually. That would be my first of two PV544s.
Earlier I mentioned the two men who looked at me strangely when I rushed up to them in a panic mode to tell them to run for their lives the Russians were invading. From that point on I kept running into them in the chow hall or at the base movies, or sometimes even in a local bar or the EM Club. We had a nice speaking relationship. I knew they were going to North Carolina and offered to go and help with the gas.
I rode with them and they let me out someplace near Charlotte, North Carolina. I hitchhiked to Atlanta and was let out, the rides must have been uneventful, I don’t remember them.
Next I was picked up by a man in his early 30s. He had been drinking. He asked me where I was going and I said Marietta. He said, “Heck, he didn’t have anything to do, he will carry me all the way.” I thought it would take several rides to get through Atlanta., yet the first person volunteered to carry me all the way home. “How lucky could I get?” I thought.
That was before he put his hand on my thigh. I got upset and told him to let me out. He said he was just kidding, don’t get upset, he would still carry me all the way home. Then as we were going over the Chattahoochee Bridge he put his hand on my leg again, and I screamed at him and started to try to unlock the door. He said just take it easy, he was just joking, but he wouldn’t do it again.
I sat in the moving car very nervous trying to decide my escape route. Then, I thought what the heck, I gave him directions all the way to our house.
I jumped out and ran into the house.
As my family was greeting me I saw his car past by several times. Then no more.
Interesting Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” kind of thing: Before I went on active duty the last time I filled up my tank I left my gas cap on the pump at a little independent gas station. Months later my father, knowing I was headed home to pick up the car thought he would take the car to a service station to fill it up for me. While the car was being filled, no self-service then, he noticed a gas cap on top of the pump and the person pumping the gas told him to go ahead and take it, it has been sitting on top of the pump for months. It was my gas cap. The same one I left there in July. It was November at the time.
I only stuck around a day or two and headed back. I didn’t want to waste my leave.
I left early one morning and drove all day, stopping only to buy gas. That was before there were many expressways. I remember entering the New Jersey Turnpike and feeling very tired. It was late at night. There were three tractor trailers ahead of me, and as I caught up with them to pass them suddenly the three big trucks turned into three elephants, holding tails with their trunks. That is what endless driving alone will do.
I got to the barracks in the wee hours of morning and I was going to check in, but if I did that I would expect to be at work the upcoming morning and I was exhausted, it was Friday, so, I decided to wait until the following Monday to check in and sleep all morning.
It was Friday, November the 22nd, 1963.
Before I got my sleep out, I don’t remember the time but people started coming down the wide hall in the barracks. People were talking, more than I have heard before. Something was going on.
I heard Sam open his locker next door and I hollered over to him, “What’z going on?”
“Kennedy was shot in Dallas!”
“No, he was in a parade and was shot!”
I felt kind of sad the next few days on into Thanksgiving. It was very sad in the barracks and out in the local bars.
We drove out to the non-populated beach at Sea Side Heights. It was nice place to get away from everything.
Might be continued.