A Slice of Life
It all started one day when my friend, Bud, and I were complaining, to each other, about how hard it was to get the attention of the girls in town. The problem, as we saw it, was that we had too much competition. You see, we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in the mid-50s, there were two military bases located there. Sandia Base (AFSWP) was situated on the southeast edge of town, and Kirkland Air Force Base was located on the southwest part of town. Between the two bases, the number of guys seen in U.S. Air Force uniforms, on any given day, on the streets of Albuquerque was overwhelming.
We were both approaching draft age, and were worried our number would come up soon. Bud’s idea was to kill two birds with one stone; 1, we would join the branch of service of our choice (and avoid the Army draft). This would allow us to legally wear a military uniform on the streets of Albuquerque, and greatly increase our chances of attracting the girls. And 2, as it turned out, since the Navy was our choice, they had a reserve unit right there in town (much different uniform). As we saw it, we would only have to go to reserve meetings once a month (how bad could that be?). Then after the meetings, and still in our uniforms, we could hit the streets on the prowl. Great idea, right? Well, as you might have guessed, the Navy welcomed us with open arms. Just sign on the dotted line “Dummy.” Right away they issued us these swell looking uniforms. Sexy, looking aren’t they!
OK, so white uniforms looked a little sloppy. It’s hard to make a skinny kid look smart in a loose fitting uniform, without the leggings, belt, white gloves, and the pretty orange scarf. Now you do have to admit, the dress blue uniform looks a lot smarter, with all that extra gear. But hey, we were just kids playing around! What did we know?
The things the Navy didn’t tell us, when we signed up, was what we would have to do at those monthly meetings; like all the marching we would have to do out on the “Grinder” in all kinds of weather; the many shots they gave us, for every kind of disease known to man (some made my arm sore for a week); having to learn how to tie all those crazy looking knots, and each one of those knots had a name we had to learn; then there was the Morse Code system we had to learn, and that crazy Signal Flag Semaphore system. It was worse than high school, with even more homework! And what was worse, when we stopped at the A&W Root Beer drive-in to check out the girls, many of our friends laughed their heads off. They couldn’t believe we thought we were going to impress the girls in those silly looking uniforms.
It wasn’t long after I joined the Reserves, that I met DiVoran. And what do you know? She really liked my uniforms, and thought I looked great in them. That made the whole adventure worth it. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this Reserve thing was not just a game that I could quit any time I wanted to. I was stuck with what I had signed up for and was going to have to see it through.
Of course, I don’t think my friend, Bud, had ever intended to see it through. When he found out that the Navy uniforms didn’t get the kind of reaction from the girls he had expected, he stopped going to meetings. The next thing I knew, the Navy was looking for him. He disappeared from the area, and later I heard the FBI was looking for him. Some friend, huh? I eventually got tired of all those Reserve meetings, and went into the regular Navy, to fulfil my required active service and get it over with. And that is about the gist of this story. You’ll have to read the blog series, “You’re In The Navy Now” for the rest of the story of where this foolish idea led me.