The end of my first 20 years

Shortly after our dinner date Shannon and I said our goodbyes and I headed north to Montana.  I had been accepted as a freshman into the University of Montana, at Missoula, for the fall term of 1960.

I am going to end my recollections here because now my past life is merging into my current life.  My whole outlook on the world changed during my one year at college.  Vietnam was heating up and, since my grades weren’t the most spectacular, I had fears of the coming draft.  I didn’t fear the actual service of my country, I simply wanted for it to be of my own choosing, not coming from an IBM card popping into a slot somewhere.

After my single year I had performed enough self-analysis to see that academic life just wasn’t for me.  I was definitely not what you would call scholarly, I wanted to get out and see the world, and not stay hunkered down in hallways surrounded by books.  I visited my parents again and, since I was soon to be nineteen, grabbed my birth certificate and went shopping for a Uniformed Service to join.  I settled on the Navy.  Their placement tests, and my own hobbies, had shown the way to my future.

I hope I haven’t shocked anyone, because it certainly wasn’t my intention.  I tried to be factual in my recall of events.  The events themselves most certainly took place and certain details may have been guessed at, but only to the extent that a lot of “I don’t remember” or “I may have done this” just doesn’t provide the proper narrative flow.  Conversations may not have been exactly as quoted, but followed the gist.  Recollected talk from over fifty years ago gets hazy with time.  Names, for the most part, are correct except where noted.  Kathleen did exist.  I don’t know what happened to her after I left.  I hope she has had a full life.  She was my very first love and confidant.

I once heard from my friend Benny that Virginia did indeed marry her young airman and now they are retired with three children and several grandchildren.  She was my first lover and “Earth Angel”.

I’ve been back to Stadt just once, in the early 80’s, but nothing remains of the farmhouse on the beautiful farm of Wolfgang and Hilde.  There is a piece of the barn foundation left on the side of the hill, but the house itself is gone.

Danni was a wonderful person who helped me back into the land of the living after Virginia’s devastating departure.  The inn has been replaced by a parking garage, and nobody nearby even remembers what became of the owners.

I still keep in touch with Shannon.  She’s happily married and still living in the same town she grew up in and I graduated from.  My best wishes to her.

I am married now and have been for over forty-six years.  I have a family complete with grandkids.  My wife is my faithful lover and always will be.

A few web sites have sprung up on which you can search out old friends.  I have decided that I would not attempt to find anyone I once knew because if I did, only old memories would be found, not new ones and I’m always ready for a new memory.

The stories I’ve recalled were mostly the high (and low) points of my youth.  My family was an adventurous lot that went places and did things all the time.  We would go on vacations in the summer, take weekend trips all the time, and generally have a good time together.

I have a store of many more memories that would bear relating if anyone is interested.  Living, as I did, in such diverse places as the Territory of Alaska, Washington, Germany, and California gives one a great view of life itself.  My life in the Navy was a great adventure.  I can’t talk about the job much, but when we were off watch we became really wild and crazy guys.  I served in places like Pensacola, Florida; Lajes, Azores; Ft. Meade, MD; San Miguel, Philippines; USS Oxford; Pensacola, Florida; Vietnam; Ramasun, Thailand; Misawa, Japan; and Skaggs Island, California.

T.O.M.

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