Panama was far behind us now. We were going home. I had been contacted by the Red Cross while in Panama. My sister was ill. I was needed at home. That was all that I knew. I was granted a leave of four weeks. I had a few months before discharge but my orders read "return to Chenango in Boston." I did not care about that. I was going home. And would see my family. I wondered if my brothers would be home. Time would tell. I don’t remember much of the rest of the trip. My ditty bag was packed. I would travel light. My sea bag had some souvenirs I had purchased while in Japan. They would be put in a locker waiting for my return. I was ready the moment we had a gang way along the side. I was on the deck when they tied off, and then I was walking down that plank. Memories rushed through my mind. A few years ago I was a young teenager eager for a fight, with my sights set on Japan. Today I had grown up considerable. I was a man, and I was needed at home. Then I was on land U.S.A. land. I turned to saluted the officer on the deck, and then my flag. That moment is burned in my mind. I turned back, and was gone I never looked back. I would see Chenango again.
I was fighting back tears when I saw a lakefront restaurant a few blocks away. I had plenty of time, so I went in and sat down to what would be a real seafood treat. On the menu it was called "JEWELS OF THE SEA." It was a platter of seven different sea foods. I have to say. It was delicious. From that point in time until I arrived at home in Wisconsin is not very clear. I was to engrossed in my thoughts. I had deep concerns about my sister. I had not heard much. I had called and talked with my mother. She did not tell me much. I WAS TROUBLED.
My parents had sold the old home that we were all born in (Literally). I had the new address, but it was not the return I was looking forward to. I had learned that Dick, my twin had married a girl from Scranton, and were expecting, and Ralph was married to his one and only girl friend. They were out of the service on the point system I had to wait my turn. (I thought that was fair). I had also learned that my sister was in serious condition in a hospital.
That night the family went to the hospital. I hated hospitals, they smelled like either, and that made me sick. It was not the home coming I was looking forward too. Not like this, in a hospital room. They told me that she needed blood transfusions, I had the matching blood so I went off and they took my blood to transfuse her. I would do that on several other occasions, but to no avail. My sister would pass on. Through this process I managed to get an extension to my leave, and was told to report to Great Lakes Naval Base for final discharge.
My brother-in-law was out of the army, and had acquired a few cars, and a couple of motor cycles. I think he wanted to start a used car business. I had my eye on one of the cars. It was a nineteen hundred thirty two black Pontiac coupe with a rumble seat. I told him to hang onto it, I would be out of the Navy soon, and I would buy it. I wanted one of the motor cycles too, but he would not sell it. It was a Harley Davidson single cylinder probably 250 cc. He said I could use it until I got the car.
I did like zipping around on that old Harley. I wish I owned it to day. I got around and saw the old gang I went to school with, the ones that made it back. A really nice guy was Pobby Pookowski. He was hit in the head in Germany, stayed in a hospital and a rehab. Center almost a year. Pooby came home before I arrived. He bought a motor cycle, and a few weeks later, ran into the back of a truck with its tail gate down. No one knew for sure what had happened. I think he blacked out. I look at him as a WAR VICTIM.
Time was running out of my leave I had done some dating. One was a Roller Derby player.) On the women’s team). How many of you reading this remember the Roller Derby. And then my twin said that he had fixed me up with a blind date with a girl that worked with his wife. I was not too happy with this arrangement, and told him. I did not need help with my dating. I had been seeing several girls. I did not mind going out with my brother and his wife, but a blind date? Reluctantly I said I would go, and we did. That date was doomed from the start. It was not that the girl June, was not nice. She was, but she too sensed the hostility. That date was a bust.
Now I am normally not a self-centered person, and I am normally good natured and fun. The following day I had some misgivings of the night before. This was not me. I felt guilt, and I felt sorry for June. I wrestled with this all day, and at night, after getting her phone number, I called her. She must have felt that I was sincere when I apologized for my actions. After some discussion. We decoded to make another date. It would be just the two of us. To this she said yes.
We were in luck. Tex. Benaky who headed up the old GLEN MILLER band was in town. We decided that we would hear his music, and dance. The dance hall was one of the finest around, It was huge, and I recall the moment. The main lights were out, the band stage was lit up, and bubbles were everywhere. Then the famous sounds of the Glen Miller theme song MOONLIGHT SERENADE. June went into my arms as though they were made for her. We were caught in one of life’s rare moments. It was right, It was wonderful, It was what I came home for. My life had changed in an instant. My only hope was that she was having the same feelings. That night would turn out being the beginning of our courtship. I would Marry her. I knew that. How did she feel?
From that night until I had to report to Great Lakes we were inseparable. On one occasion, we were walking down our main street, when two M.P.’s. stopped us. (Now what) I was told that it was against Navy policy to hold hands in public. They then asked for my leave papers and I.D. card. I pulled out my wallet, and pulled out my papers, and tragedy struck. I had one I.D. card that was issued to me. I had another that said I was twenty-one. I had purchased it. So that I could have a drink with my friends. I thought I deserved that hell I put my life on the line didn’t I? On my chest were medals and stars representing major battles. I was not just out of boot camp. The problem was when I pulled out the I.D. card two came out. These guys were playing hard ball. They took me to a lock up, and booked me. They let me cool my heals for a while.
June, with tears in her eyes went home. Her Dad worked nights so he was home. He did not like to see his little girl crying. He called the shore patrol office to find out what was going on. He was told that I would be released shortly. They told me that because my orders were to report to Great Lakes in a week, I was ordered to report to The M. P.’s at Great Lakes. They would have my papers and I.D.’s and they would deal with me. (I had no one to blame but myself.) The next week we stayed clear of the busy spots. We did not care, as we were together. My problem. What was I going to do?
The solution is in my last chapter...