30 June 2014

"I'm Gonna Die…" Part I

Same bike at Ft Bragg - Post Beatles - Sans Peace Symbol

The first bicycle appeared in the garage of our quarters on Ft Sill. Red with white trim,  it had what might be termed today, "a hipster aesthetic" in that it was clunky, void of all frills and extremely utilitarian.  Which is to say, in 1962, it sucked.  What it did offer, on an army post,  was freedom and an extended range.

I was found on the business side of an artillery range by the MPs with a friend who showed the way. We were walking around mostly desert with tumble weeds when we saw a large unexploded round circled by white engineer tape.  And another and another. 

Even at seven,  I was thinking we might be in over our heads and was secretly relieved when the MPs showed up -- After a brief and friendly interrogation I would have the time of my short life riding home in an open jeep with the wind blowing through my pre-Beatles crew cut.  My mother could only say, "Wait until your father gets home" over and over.   

There is a unwritten law for military brats and it's this, "Whatever you do is a direct reflection on your father and his career.  Drugs, black market, shop lifting in the PX, wearing long hair & peace symbols…the list goes on.  This law eases up when living off post but when then neighbors see you being driven up to your home in a MP jeep…there's not much room to hide.  

I was in the tub playing with a battery powered scuba diver when I heard the front door open.  Until I heard the door, I was a blissful million miles away in a seven-year-old attention span.  The scuba diver in the tub.  The monkey banging cymbals in my head.  All of it came to a dead stop when the door opened and I knew…without any doubt, I was going to die.  


Clay Tompkins said...

John, The Pulitzer prize entry of your posts.Who doesn't remember those times, except for most of us it's in the scrub brush of our memories. Clay

tintin said...

Clay- And this is only Part I. I miss your club.

Unknown said...

I'm looking forward to the next part of this. Have spent some time on Ft Sill, I'm impressed with your range. The impact areas a quite a ways from cantonment!

tintin said...

Thanks. I'm guessing that back in 1962, the ranges might have been closer to quarters. I remember it being a ride but not that far.

Michael Rowe said...

How I've missed this voice. Beautifully written, John.