We moved to “Podunk” Tennessee just in time for me to go into the second grade. We lived there for only nine months or so but I remember the time there well. We also did a lot of traveling from there and I got to see my birthplace and my relatives when I was old enough to appreciate them.
We were still living in a military house, just off base. Four houses all in one block and right on the busiest road in Podunk. The road was elevated from the sidewalk and the naval air base was on the other side of the road. I remember the road being so huge and high, later as an adult I went back to that place and really could not get a grip on how my small 7 yr old sized self could think this was a grand huge place. I guess the perspective of being shorter made me see things that way.
Dad bought a Catalina when we got there, later we all drove down to Louisiana to get the Goat, which came by ship from Japan. The 4-track and most of the interior had been vandalized on the way, so the goat never again did look as good as it’s prime. Later a few accidents occurred and it ended up in my aunt’s back yard for quite a few years, rusting away slowly before it was sold as scrap…
I walked about 30 minutes to school every day passing a pool hall and some fairly busy railroad tracks. We used to put pennies on the track. The folks at the school used to tell us that was dangerous. I figured, as long as I didn’t get run over, the worst thing that could happen was that the train would hit the penny, launch itself off the track right into the pool hall! COOL!
I learned to swim at a pool on base, there. I’d made lots of friends there, no doubt regaling them with my tales of living in Japan. And then, right before school ended, it was time to move on.
I bawled my eyes out and the injustice of having to leave all my friends and teachers, never to see them again. I remember how much it hurt. It hurt every time we had to pick up and leave for another base. Later in life, I stopped trying to make friends anymore. I stopped being a kid with roots and purpose and became a unfeeling thing just living for the day, getting along with everyone, but not getting involved. Next year we’d be in a different place, couldn’t be bothered with attachments now… Dad told me much later that his life was always like that.
How would it have been if I had grown up and spent my life all in one place, had life-long friends, married my high-school sweetheart? Would I have been a better person? I guess I’ll never know that… I still have that pain inside me, it’s part of who I am now, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. Lots of people have had a life a lot worse than I have, I don’t want to complain… or trade.
Anyways, from there we move to Virginia, a whole new life, a whole new story, a re-incarnated Goat.