Sunday, September 22, 2013

22 SEP 13

A PCS Story
"... and miles to go"

July 1971, returning from Japan ...
I was met at Travis AFB by friend, and former 14th Field Station comrade, ex-33B Bob Broner, who lived in Oakland. He'd ETS'd about three months earlier. We'd planned this meet-up because I had to get to the Oakland Army Terminal to pick up the Pontiac I'd shipped home. Bob had offered a room for the night and to drive me down to the terminal. We passed the night and picked up the car the next day. I departed almost immediately after, intent on making Reno by nightfall. Arrived in Reno and found a motel ... ate, showered, slept. Next morning I went looking for a bank. I'd converted all my cash to an  American Express Bank cashier's check and now needed to cash it in to pay for the road trip home to New Jersey. (Think it was for $400)
               My 1968 Pontiac LeMans, bought from my trick chief at the 14th, Milt Chambers

Visited several banks and not one would cash my check unless I had an account with them. What to do? Walking down a street, I'd passed an army recruiting office. I went in and introduced myself, explaining my problem. After showing copies of my orders, a recruiter volunteered to take me to his bank and vouch for me. This done, I thanked him and with money in my pocket was soon on my way. ( Had gotten a parking ticket for letting the meter run out. The car still bore the plates issued in Japan. They were valid for 30 days after return to CONUS. The Parking Officer had tried to copy the Japanese glyph from my license plate that identified Fukuoka Prefecture ... to no avail. He then just wrote, "Foreign" in the ID space. The ticket itself was in the form of an envelope and the instructions informed me to place two dollars in the envelope, seal it, then drop it in any mailbox. I was tempted to ignore it all but then figured that two bucks wouldn't break me ... and I was still a long way from home. No sense in pissing off the municipality.)

Interstate 80 East ... leaving town, began passing a long line of hitchers, most of whom held signs telling where they wanted to go. At the very end of the line was a pair of guys holding a sign that read simply, "East Coast."  I stopped for them. Figured I could use the company. They presented a Yin/Yang in physical appearance ... one clean shaven with blond hair that was cut in the military style, the other was bearded and wore his dark hair long, down to his shoulders. They were bound for Massachusetts. I offered them a ride as far as the Jersey Turnpike. They accepted. They related their stories ... the blond fellow was just a young guy bored with college, bumming around the country. The dark-haired one was ex-army, a Vietnam vet who was "just looking" too. Before clearing town, we stopped at a diner to grab some chow. They would not serve the Vietnam vet because he looked like one of those "God Damned hippy types." We left. Found a small grocery and bought bread, peanut butter and jelly. That's what we ate for most of the rest of the trip.

Entered Utah ... and the Bonneville Salt Flats. The highway divided, with the west-bound lanes now about a quarter mile off to the left. Had been driving for hours by this time. The two-lane blacktop, with bright white salt on both sides of the roadway, began putting me to sleep with the monotony of the white center line coming towards me. Pulled into a rest area. PB&J for dinner. My two passengers pulled sleeping bags from their backpacks and stretched out on the ground. I crawled into the back seat and fell immediately asleep. An early start the next day. Approaching Salt Lake City, the car began to bumpbumpbump. Stopped and checked it out. Was my rear tires. The tread had begun to separate from the tire body. (I'm guessing from the heat.) Found a Sears-Roebuck. Bought 4 new radial tires ... cost me $200.

Continued East.

Now began a very long stretch of the trip. The pull of home was strong. Pushed the car hard ... 90 mph or better. That Slant-Six engine was humming! (This was long before 55 was the law.) Across  Wyoming, then Nebraska ... through Omaha and Des Moines ... places I'd only read about in geography books. Late afternoon and the blonde fellow reckoned that we might be able to spend the night with a cousin who lived in Rock Island, Illinois. We cut south on I-280, crossed the Mississippi and entered Rock Island from the south. Found the cousin's house. We knocked and were warmly welcomed, told to go and clean up while the family would throw together a meal for supper.

-To be continued

Friday, September 20, 2013

20 SEP 13

back at the Property Book Office ...

 I arrived at FSB in March 1973.
 Since my TS clearance hadn't yet been re-approved,
 I was put to work at the Site 3 Property Book Office.
 There was a warrant officer as OIC (can't remember
 his name), an E-6 NCOIC (can't remember his name
 either) and two enlisted warehousemen/drivers.
 I do remember their names ...
 Ray Pike and Paul Cole.
 On a summer day that year, with nothing much going on,
 we three decided to paint parking lines on the asphalt in front
 of the loading dock. This was to make it easier to back a truck
 into the space in front of the loading doors. We also marked out
 reserved parking spots for the OIC and NCOIC, loading spots
 for the two trucks and an X-striped no-parking area.
 I posted this picture because those yellow paint lines can
 still be seen here ... some 40 years later.
 (On a slow Friday afternoon, we'd wash the trucks and then
 soak up some sun, sitting in folding chairs to the right of the
 loading door while we awaited the end of the duty week.
 There was no overhang back then and the late afternoon sun
 shone directly onto the loading dock.)
 (Photo shamelessly borrowed from Thomas Kemnitz).

Things remembered ... Ray Pike was memorable for driving from
Berlin to Spain (and maybe Morocco) and back in a bright red Mini-Cooper.
(This was back when they were tiny little cars with 12" wheels.)

I remember, also, when Paul Cole acted as the roadie for my band, "Transom," when we played our one and only downtown gig at Club Sloopy ... October 1973.

               Transom, on stage at Club Sloopy. (Paul Cole, seated lower left.)       

Link to a recording of "Transom" performing at the Berlin Funkaustellung - September,1973:


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

11 SEP 13


A day to remember
A day to reflect

What I wrote two years ago:

My perceptions haven't changed.