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

The first conspicuous alteration to an army recruit during basic training is they no longer have a first or middle name.   His surname was Sherman and upon approach he ascended to the charge of squad leader.   Gary suspected Sherman’s’ prior service may have influenced the platoon sergeant predilection,  as newly anointed squad leader he named Stewart as assistant,  another name culminating  the alphabet which was conventional for a fourth squad.  Gary soon recognized the idiosyncrasies that bestowed those with leadership responsibility,  it was the symbolism use 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 he would conveniently misinterpret the instruction of the assignment.  Sherman, clipboard in hand, smartly marching the squad, not to a duty assignment but accessing the PX.  When asked,  Sherman rendered, it was his military experience that no one questioned a clip-board instructed formation about its destination.

Ft. Ord Hospital

Gary discovering his name was not impugn from appearing on the battalion 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 was in 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 had meant the  criteria for admittance to the hospital.   Gary besides his physical lapse had some other concerns, it was SOP  if admitted the unit would duffel bag all your belonging to the hospital, 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 experienced at the start of basic, much like the childhood illness’ at the 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 broken the night before, the Doctor asking a single question, “how do feel”, still feeling weak but mustering a bold reply “a lot  better” ,  the doctor saying “good, I’m dismissing you, report back to your unit”.  Standing outside the hospital  having to drag his duffel bag, unable to carry it for any length of time, coming to the conclusion, he would drag it all the way  the barracks.  He struggled for about a block when 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 was sufficient

To the passerby the sign outside Fort Ord’s main gate displayed in bold print  “Give A Soldier A Ride”.    It was Saturday, just having completed the 6th week,  Gary stationing himself at the side of the road outside the main gate thumbs raised,  anticipating a Samaritan stop.  Some having questioned his reason for the brief overnight venture home on his first weekend leave, turning down an invitation to go spend the night in Carmel with some of the squad, but 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.   Lady luck was smiling, the soldier harnessing a ride, concluding the normal two-hour drive to Oakland in a little over three hours, good time considering he was hitchhiking.  Sunday morning found him going for a walk, it had been little over six weeks since that meaningful day he had departed and upon returning, the feeling wasn’t what he expected, everything had a new perspective, he felt more like a visitor in the house that he called home.  Gary’s dad mentioning he would drive him back to Fort Ord that afternoon.  Gary making it known that he would be returning next weekend with an army buddy that he wanted them to meet.

   It was getting late almost 1700 hrs on Saturday, Gary and Steward having just completed the 7th week,  The two stationing themselves on Highway #1 outside the main gate.   The two uniformed soldiers were trusting for conveyance to Gary’s family home in the East Oakland Hills.  On this second venture the Class A uniform wasn’t the complementing antecedent as assumed, having to wait for what seemed an eternity before someone stop, only to discover he was going to San Francisco and could take them only as far as the 10th street junction of the Bay Shore and Nimitz Freeway in San Jose.  After being dropped off, the two walked to the entrance of the Nimitz in dire need of another advocate,  to their surprise a  10 wheeler semi with an attached auto transport trailer pulled onto the shoulder and stopped. With a questioning expression on both their faces, the two approached 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”.

The two were hesitant, the inventory that pervaded the trailer were an assortment of mostly new cars journeying for delivery,  the soldiers mounting the top-tier of the emporium,  sitting in a car, bathing in the aromatic bouquet only a new car possesses, the 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 this would be his final week of basic thus his dad 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 newfound 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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