I was thirteen and Mom and Dad called
me into their bedroom and after I sat down on the end of
their bed they expressed how happy they were that I had
graduated from eighth 8th grade. They asked me where I wanted
to go to school in the United States.
Now, to put things in perspective,
I had been raised in a small oil camps where I had spent
the better part of my adolescent years growing up with very
close friends of mine. The list of childhood friends seems
endless. We were in my mind a "family". We did
not date one another; instead we "hung out" together.
Sure we would sneak a kiss – maybe a "French
kiss" and a hug and if we could get away with a little
"searching" or what we boys later referred to
as a "dry f____". We did that and that was about
it but it was exciting nonetheless. The girls kept coming
back so I know they were into the excitement as well.
I remember my first "French
kiss". I had just finished a Snickers candy bar behind
the new Tia Juana club movie screen and my mouth was full
of peanut bits from a Snicker Bar and I French Kissed (?)
who following my kiss spent considerable time spitting out
the bits of peanuts I left in her mouth. Not too classy
you think but it was a start!
Well, you see, I loved hunting and
I loved "War" of any kind because I followed it
in the comic books and I knew a lot about it. I read every
Tarzan book that was published – over and over. I
wanted to have my own gun and I wanted to shoot "gooks"
which at that time were North Koreans Commies.
So, I had my choice of schools and
I selected Georgia Military College, Milledgeville, Georgia.
That was where John Schobal and Doug Bazemore went to school.
Doug was the older brother of Palmer and Tony Bazemore.
Palmer was a long childhood friend of mine and their parents
were likewise friends of my parents.
I wanted a military school so I could
get my hands on a real rifle and I did -- even tried to
steal a 30 cal. machine gun from the school armory--but
they kicked me out of the armory before I had all the parts.
So, there I was at the Maracaibo
Airport and my mother was in tears, and my Dad patted me
on the back and I had a tag attached to my shirt for the
Creole Rep in Miami – "save our poor boy"
and I was thirteen. I said goodby to my little sister, Cris,
(The "brat") and my parents and I climbed the
steps into the DC 7 and away I went.
Landed in Aruba and had my first
of several Cuba Libres and then slightly intoxicated landed
in Miami and the Taxi took me to the hotel "Colombo"
where vaguely I remember being assigned a ticket on a train
to Sylvania, Georgia where the Bazemore family met me. From
then on it is vague, except that I finally ended up at GMC
(Georgia Military College) where I went through a major
conversion. (My father kept every letter that I wrote home
and which I have to this day). Boy was I naive!! I believed
everything that was told to me.
Palmer Bazemore and I bunked together
in the Main Barracks and we went though a endless hazing
by older boys. The barracks was old and we used to shoot
paper clips at the mice that came into the room on the steam
What I eventually learned was that
I had absolutely nothing in common with the other boys at
the school. They were
essentially "Dorks" in today's terminology. I
had nothing in common with them and could not relate to
them. They were shallow. I quickly received the nickname
of "Little Way-out" because I could not relate
to them in any way.
I had never experienced discrimination
in my life and here I was in the center of Georgia in the
middle of the "movement". I would go to the court
house and see white and black water fountains, black and
white restrooms, bus stations where the "niggers"
sat in the back. What was this shit? I was involved in removing
two burning crosses from our campus that the KKK had placed
there and I was threatened by KKK with shotguns for removing
their hatred-filled literature from the windshields of cars
in town. Dad, called me via radio-phone telling me to keep
a low profile – that the KKK was crazy. I knew that!!
So, I what I ended up doing was purchasing
a shotgun and I would load up a bandoleer of shells and
I would head out through the "black" community
to the swamps down by the Ochicochee River. I would spend
many hours walking through the swamps where I felt at home.
Later, I purchased a 303 Enfield rifle which I sporterized
and I would shoot anything except people. That was more
like it. I
bought an Italian switchblade and sewed a pocket for it
along the stripe of my Confederate Grey military pants where
I carried it for years...
I recall standing before the Commandant
of Cadets who threatened to send me home for stealing a
dime except that the school could not afford the airplane
ticket. I spent 300 hours in the first year walking off
discipline hours on the "bull-ring". I had to
have my shoes re-soled several times and I added taps to
the toes and heels to stave off the wear. I eventually could
walk the ring with my eyes shut. I attended GMC for 6 years
– through Jr. College.
I used to swig the worst tasting
bourbon during classes through a small flexible plastic
tubing from a flask that I kept under my trousers and I
flunked American History because I was "Out of it"
most of the time. Never got caught.
Every summer I returned home to Tia
Juana, then Lagunillas and then Tia Juana. Oh, heaven!!!
I had a crush on Shari Norsworthy which consumed me for
years after her father broke it off. We wrote each other
every day while in school and I once visited her and her
sister Sandy at their Aunt's home in Louisville, KY and
our grades suffered and her father broke it off. I was heart
broken – used to listen to 45 records for hours on
end about love lost—it was painful. My father was
heartless; he used to say I was "cow eyed" moping
around the house day after day. I met Shari at the San Antonio
reunion after so many years and it was like yesterday. Such
a lovely person – still spunky. Happily married with
grown kids. Such a loss for me……. What can I
say – that is life.
I guess, I never adjusted. Even after
I went on to College at the University of Maryland, and
you know, it took me years to get my act together. I was
a very late bloomer, spent 4 years in the Army in Germany
which I loved. Met my first "love" in my late
20's and lost her and then after I had mustered out of the
service in '69 later met my "real" love, Pat and
we were married after a short courtship. Pat, learned quickly
that I still had the drive to follow every trail to the
end, no matter what the condition early in our marriage
and you know, I still have it today.
Today, I receive a great deal of
pleasure as I flip through the albums of pictures that I
took and those of my parents when we lived in Venezuela
and read the stories each of you share. They are wonderful!!
I will never trade the memories for