Spectacular Delineation……. ..#79 (the 50’s)

The Soldiers able to survey the freeway cartage from a height

The Soldiers able to survey the freeway cartage from a height

Servicemen when possessed by the army have their given first and middle names abolished,  his surname was Sherman and upon approach he ascended to the charge of squad leader.   It was suspected Sherman’s’ prior service may have influenced the platoon sergeant predilection,  the newly anointed squad leader named Stewart as assistant,  another name culminating  the alphabet which was conventional for the fourth squad.  Gary soon recognized the charge bestowed on those with  prior service and with it the symbolism of a clip board.   Lapses in the daily training schedule would find work details sometimes articulated by squad.   Sherman was very adept at securing a clipboard and with the squad called to formation would conveniently misinterpret the instruction of the assignment, the squad marching smartly, not to a duty assignment but accessing the PX.   Sherman rendering, it was his military experience that no one questioned a clip-board instructed formation about its destination.

Fort Ord Hospital

Fort Ord Hospital

Gary discovering his name was not impune from appearing on a duty roster, his first assignment being fire watch, spending two hours perched in a ladder accessible wooden lookout tower situated out in the boondocks of the East Range with a walkie-talkie radio.   The Company having started its fourth week when the epidemic of what was known as The Fourth Week Crud began.  It started with flu-like  symptoms, Gary noticing the congestion and somewhat feverish sensation debating whether to go on sick call, but his name was on the duty roster for morning KP and he reported to the mess hall.  He was stationed at the pots & pans sink feeling terrible when one of the  mess hall staff NCO’s started chewing him out for being so slow.  The soldier explaining that he wasn’t feeling well, the NCO yelling that he should have reported for sick call earlier.   Collaring the recruit, the two marched out of the kitchen to the administrative office of the Company’s First Sergeant, the mess hall NCO giving an explanation but making it sound like this recruit was just trying to get out of KP duty.  The First Sergeant directing a staff member to take Gary to the dispensary and would later decide on what action would to take if necessary.  The recruit waiting his turn in the dispensary with the others on sick call, not seeing a doctor but a medic and after a brief questioning, blood pressure and temperature check, the medic concluded that he would be transported to the hospital, disclosing that his temperature of 101.2 was above the  criteria for admittance to the hospital.   Gary besides his physical lapse had some other concerns, having heard that if you were admitted, the unit would pack  your duffel bag and your belongings would accompany you and if a prolonged admittance causes you to miss a sufficient number of  training requirements you could be held over for the next group.  It was confirmed, he had the crud, medically diagnosed as an upper respiratory infection, discovering it was a inherit illness something experience by many at he start of basic, much like the childhood illness’ at he beginning of a school year.  Gary somewhat oblivious to the events of the first night in the hospital, the second night an awareness of the consequences of his stay beginning to set in.  The morning of the third day, his fever having broke the night before, the Doctor asking a single question, “how do feel”, still feeling weak but mustering a reply “a lot  better” , the doctor saying “good, I’m dismissing you, report back to your unit”.   Standing outside the hospital after having to drag his duffel bag, unable to carry it for any length of time, deciding if he had to, he would drag it all the way back to the barracks.  Fortunately a passing  NCO in a jeep took notice of his dilemma offering to give him a lift.

A Class A Uniform and a thumb sometimes worked

A Class A Uniform and a thumb sometimes was sufficient

To the passerby the sign outside Fort Ord’s main gate displayed in bold print  “Give A Soldier A Ride”.   It was getting late almost 1700 hrs on Saturday, just having completed the 7th week,  Gary and Steward stationing themselves at the side of the road  thumbs raised,  anticipating a Samaritan stop.   The two uniformed soldiers were trusting for conveyance to the residency of the Willson’s in the East Oakland Hills.  Gary having traversed this road on a weekend pass the previous week finding no difficulty in harnessing a Saturday transport, concluding the normal two-hour drive to Oakland in a little over three hours, a good time considering hitchhiking.  Some questioned his reason for the brief overnight venture home on this first weekend leave, turning down an invitation to go spend the night in Carmel with some of the squad.  In a way he wanted to impress everyone at home with his new-found confidence highlighted by a uniform, a visual demonstration of what he perceived as a transformation of maturity, but the real reason remained within, the family and house on Greenly Drive was home.

It was after 8:00 p.m., this is not good thought the two hitchhiking travelers having traversed two-thirds of the distance.   On this venture the Class A uniform wasn’t the complimenting antecedent as assumed, having to wait for what seemed an eternity for  benefactor, then discovering he was taking the Bayshore Freeway to San Francisco.   The travelers being dropped off at the 10th street junction of the Bay Shore and Nimitz in San Jose.   The two walking to the entrance of the Nimitz in dire need of another advocate, and to their surprise a  10 wheeler semi with an attached auto transport trailer pulled onto the shoulder and stopped.  A questioning expression on both their faces, the two approaching the driver who greeted them with an inquiry as to their destination.  Gary immediately replying, 98th Avenue exit in Oakland,  the driver motioning for them to get in.   Both soldiers hesitant, there being room for just one in the cab and then they observed the driver ambulations, he wasn’t directing them to the cab,  but pointing to the auto transport trailer, voicing  “the cars are unlocked”.

Gary  concluding,  the inventory that pervaded the trailer were an assortment of mostly new cars journeying for delivery.  The soldiers mounted the top-tier of the emporium,  entering and bathing in the aromatic bouquet only a new car possesses, that new car smell.   The keys were in the ignition of the  1959 Ford, and once seated both looking at the dash, desirable thought prevailed, but the young soldiers perceived otherwise by not turning on the radio.  The journey provided a spectacular delineation from its prodigious elevation, the two able to survey the freeway cartage from a height,  envisioning the perambulators of the highway like curios on a game board.  The auto transport trailer halting at the freeways 98th Ave. exit ,  the two uniform soldiers disembarking setting about to  procure a another Samaritan.  This time  experiencing the smiles of lady luck, the person stopping not only would  escort them to Mountain Blvd., but to the Willson residence on Greenly Drive.

Garys Dad's 56 Plymouth Belevedere

Gary’s Dad’s 56 Plymouth Belvedere

The hitch-hiking journey and late night entry to spend a Saturday night at Gary’s parents residence was worth the effort,  if nothing else a removal from the rigors of discipline known as basic training .   A Sunday afternoon departure, Gary having floated the idea to see if his Dad would let him take the 56 Plymouth back to Fort Ord since he would be finished with basic thus he wouldn’t have to drive down to pick him up.  He was still waiting for answer when his Dad handed him the keys, reminding him to be careful and just when the new soldier thought he had gained some new-found respect, as he was leaving his Dad causally added that dreaded high school cruising rule, “Oh, and once you get there, leave the car parked”.


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