I was born in 1942, in Washington state as it happens.  My dad was in the Army Air Corps (soon to be come the US Air Force) and was stationed in Canada soon after I was born.  He was in the Meteorological branch and spent a bit of time running up and down the AlCan Highway as it was being built setting up weather stations.  From time to time he would also grab a C47 and head up into Alaska proper.  One trip took him to Point Barrow way up on the northernmost tip of Alaska.  Since Alaska was still just a territory, I couldn’t call it the northernmost point in the States.

I became aware of my surroundings up in Fairbanks, where he was stationed next in 1946.  I remember the house we lived in, the trek to school I made every day – usually in snow – and other highlights of that area.  I guess I was more aware of things because of the uniqueness of Alaska at the time.  It was a real frontier back then.

I learned to drive a dog team, ride a bike in six inches of snow, deal with the Chena River flooding every year as melting ice jammed the shores, and generally absorb the native culture.  We even had a family (several actually) of native Alaskans just down the street from us.  I became good friends with their son, who was the same age as me.  We lived on Third Ave and across from us was … nothing.  As far as you could see was nothing but tundra and an occasional smoking chimney where trappers lived.

W got transferred to Washington, D.C. in 1950.  In keeping with doing everything the adventurous way, my dad elected to drive down the AlCan Highway to California (my mom’s family), thence to Colorado (my dad’s family), and onwards to D.C.  It was a memorable trip and I loved it.

I really began growing up in D.C.  I went from being nine to fourteen.  Lots of adventures (good and bad) happen to kids in that age group.  I fell in love practically every week, ranged far and wide on my bike, built forts, hung out with gangs of other kids as we played neighborhood games (kick the can, red light/green light, hide and seek, etc) and joined the Boy Scouts.  Joining the Scouts was the first best thing to happen to me.  I studied, went to camps, went to meetings, met other boys my age, and really had a good time.  My only real regret leaving was that I had to leave my first real love.  I was heartbroken.

In 1955, my dad was again transferred.  This time to Germany.  This is a land I’d heard of, studied in school, and decided I was a little bit afraid of.  After all, the war had only been over since 1945 and here I was going over there only ten years later.  I didn’t know what I’d find.  When I arrived, I found a wonderful place.  There was so much to do, so much to see, and an incomprehensible language to learn.  I applied myself, joined a couple of youth groups that made forays off base to mingle with the natives and finally became an almost native myself.  I could speak German without an accent (other than the local accent, which branded me as a ‘country boy’) which helped immensely with relationships.  And, I did have relationships.  Most notably with a wonderful person named Virginia.  Defying standard teen dictum, we stayed together for the entire three years I was there; only parting when her dad got transferred to Italy.  I learned to drive, saved enough money to buy a car, and lost my virginity in this great country.

All too soon, in 1958, we were transferred again.  This time to Northern California.  We ended up in a nice house in Petaluma where I attended my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school.  Given my background in European culture, stepping into California culture was like entering a dark room for the first time.  I must have broken hundreds of ‘teen rules’ the first couple of months I was there.  I was constantly rubbing someone the wrong way until I managed to fit into place.  My car, which I had shipped from Germany, caused many a comment because it was the only Volkswagen (as far as I knew) within hundreds of miles.  They had not been exported from Germany yet so the only ones you saw were those brought back by servicemen and their dependents.  It was unique in many ways, not the least being that it was a convertible.  For carrying around surfboards it was perfect.  As a chick magnet it was also perfect.

So this, in a nutshell, is my life up to graduation from high school in 1960.  I went to the University of Montana for a year, then joined the Navy to avoid the draft building up for Vietnam.  Shortly thereafter I got married.  I’m still married and we’re going on our 47th year now.  Two kids, many grandkids.  One of the grandkids is in her second year of college.

Life is good.



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