I am blessed to have had a soul mate. She was taken from me on May 6, 1993. She was not my life partner. She was my best friend. Her name was Sandy and she was my friend. I met Sandy when I was in 7th grade. She was the older sister of my then best friend. It wasn't until I was in high school and a couple years older that Sandy and I became friends. Sandy was seven years older than I was. Somehow that age difference didn't matter to us. At first she was like the big sister I never had. As I got older, our friendship grew stronger. Saying goodbye to her the day I shipped out to basic training, October 5, 1976, was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Saying goodbye to her permanently on May 6, 1993, was one of the most horrible days of my life. Sandy was 40 years young when she died. We were as close as two people could be. It didn't matter that I lived all over the globe and she lived in Chicago, California, Michigan and North Carolina. When I left Chicago in 1976 we never lived in the same place at the same time again. But our connection was so strong that we always knew when the other was in trouble. Always. I knew it the night we lost her and I was powerless to help her. I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was in Raleigh, North Carolina.
After her death, one of her sisters traveled to North Carolina to get some of Sandy's things from her home. One of the things she brought back were letters I'd written to Sandy. All of them in fact. Sandy had saved every letter I'd ever written to her from the day that I left for basic training in 1976 until her death in 1993. They were filed away in notebooks in chronological order. Well, they were in what was Sandy's idea of chronological order ... meaning months of letters where lumped together in a notebook.
Sandy used to tell me she was saving my letters for me. She wanted us to write a book about my escapades in the Army. I never thought them worthy of publication and to tell you the truth, until an hour ago, I've never looked at the letters though I've carted them with me all over the United States since 1993. Now it's time to start going through my letters. Not so much to reminisce but because I need evidence that's in them for a benefits claim. However, in just this last hour I've come across some things that I had written that I think are worth sharing. What I share with you will be transcribed exactly as it was originally written so please excuse any misspellings, grammatical errors, drunken ramblings, etc. These are passages of my youth that I am going to share with you.
I hope you enjoy them.
Addendum. December 1, 2009. I've been working on this blog for well over a week now. I've read over one years worth of the letters that I wrote to Sandy and for the most part these letters could have been written by a stranger. I have almost no recall of many of the things that happened to me. The memories that I do have are in total conflict of what I wrote in the letters that I am reading. It just goes to show you that your mind will do what it has to do protect you. Had I remembered all these things that I suffered through, I would not be the person I am today. I blocked those memories for a reason. Reading about them now ... I understand why I've blocked them out for so long.
Addendum. December 11, 2009. Final note before publishing this blog. It's taken me three weeks to write this blog. It's been a painful three weeks to say the least. I've only made it through two years of letters (give or take). I've relived things that I've forgotten and/or totally blocked out. Keep in mind that when I wrote this stuff I was 18 & 19 years old. I was living in Germany and it was the first time I'd been that far from home. The kids I graduated with went away to college. I joined the Army and left the country. I got an education in life while their educations came from books. Both are very valuable educations.
January 27, 1977, Fort Jackson, South Carolina
I didn't take PT yesterday. I felt shitty, so I hid. Theres a room here, they divided it into two rooms by paneling. On one side theres a hole in it about 3 feet by 3 feet. So, I crawled in the hole, between the two sheets of paneling and stayed in there until PT was over. Some girl cracked up last night cause she found out she wasn't getting the discharge she expected. She got so bad that the men in white had to come get her. Then, some girl had a miscarriage and another girl got raped. What a night.
January 29, 1977, Somewhere in the air on a flight to Germany
As I look down upon the earth, it looks so peaceful. Yet I know that somewhere, no, all over the world, people are yelling, screaming, fighting and pounding each other. Yet, looking down you'd never know. It all looks so beautiful.
March 16, 1977, Hanau, Germany
The dope here is in greater quantities than I could ever get at home. Just this morning I was in a friends room and some girl I know came in and asked us if we wanted to do some powdered speed. We are having a short timers party on Friday for Kay cause she leaves a week from today. (LUCKY SHIT!) Anyways, Heller is making hash brownies.
The Army is so full of alkies and junkies its almost too hard for anyone to believe. In the States, I saw more weed than I've ever seen before. Over here, I see a lot of dope too. No pot, so mostly its either hard stuff or hash. And its the same shit that I left for. In other words, take away all the dopers and drinkers and thieves and rapists etc, that the Army has and maybe it would be alright. Maybe there wouldn't even be an Army if that were to happen.
March 18, 1977, Hanau, Germany
Yesterday in class they were talking about us females. It really cracked me up, some of the things that some of the males (?) were saying. Sick things like ... all women should be like "Southern Belles" and stay home, get pregnant, clean house and raise kids. They asked me what I thought of that. You know what I wanted to say, but I was very polite. So I said, "Try and keep me in a role like that. I won't be married more than two months". They laughed. I was serious.
April 26, 1977, Hanau, Germany
Yesterday, me and this girl Kathy Roberts were walking over to the mess hole for dinner. So, here we are, walking along, minding our own business, not bothering anyone, (honest!), and this black guy comes up to us and starts talking to us. Well, we ignored him, cause thats the best thing to do around here. So the next thing I know, this guy has my arm and won't let go. I tried to get away from him and he kept trying to drag me over to his truck, saying ... "I can't go far away from my truck." At any rate, he also grabbed Kathy and we finally managed to get away from the fucker. So what does this idiot do ... he follows us. Kept yelling at us and swearing at us. Believe it or not, I was scared to death. I thought I was gonna piss my fuckin pants. Anyway, after that, we went to the mess hole and ate and by the time we finished eating he was gone.
So, I had forgotten about it. I figured I'd never see the guy again. Boy, was I wrong. When we went to lunch today, there he was, waiting for us. He kept yelling at us and swearing at us, and the little fucker even had the balls to follow us again. Well, I had had enough. I was tired of being harassed all the time. You would be too if you were on this post. If you are a female, you can't even walk this post alone. Day or night.
So, after that happened, me and Kathy went to the orderly room, which is where the Company Commander is located, to find out what we could do to stop this guy from bugging us. I mean, after all, its not a pleasant feeling, knowing that someone is following you and bugging you, and won't let you alone.
We were told that the best thing to do was call Sgt Cole, up at the U.P. Gate. (U.P. stands for Unit Police.) So we did. Sgt Cole told us the best thing to do was get his name (its on the shirt) and his Company (its on the vehicle he was driving) if we ever saw him again. We said fine. End of conversation.
After lunch...guess who was waiting for us. Good guess. So, he started bugging us again, and about that time, the mail clerk, who's a friend of mine and Kathy's, walked up. We stopped him and started talking to him in order to avoid the guy that had been bugging us. It didn't stop that fucker though. He still bothered us.
So, we said good bye to the guy that we knew and took off. Towards the U.P. Gate. I had gotten the guys name and all that and that was all that we needed. We got to the U.P. Gate and told SGT Cole what happened. Next thing he said was make out a sworn statement against the guy. After that, the U.P. Commander wanted to talk to us. So we went into his office and were in there for about 15 minutes, and then he told us that he would take care of the rest and for us to go back to work. Well, by the time we walked out of his office, they already had the guy. That was quick! He saw us. I swear, if looks could kill, me and Kathy would most assuredly be dead.
Its really strange though Michelle. Living in a big city like Chicago, I'd expected that a little harassment wouldn't bother me. But that's not so. As much as I've been harassed, I've never been harassed as bad as this until I came over here to Germany.
July 20, 1977, Hanau, Germany
Oh, when I come home, I have decided that I will not pay no 60 or 65 cents for a pack of cigarettes. After paying $1.85 and $2.85 a carton! No fuckin' way.
September 14, 1977, Hanau, Germany
A girl I know came up with the perfect description of Germany. She said it sucks so bad that she's got hickeys on the bottom of her feet. Don't know how original that is, but I like it.
Corvette Summer. I don't give a good G-d damn. I'll see it when it gets here. As for Animal House, that doesn't bug me either cause I've never heard of the fucking thing. HA HA!!!!
October 5, 1977, Hanau, Germany
Guess what! I've been in the army (active duty) for one entire year now. Isn't that disgusting! Well, at least I only have exactly 2 years left to serve in this Army of ours. (WRETCH!)
October 19, 1977, Hanau, Germany
As soon as you get the eight track fixed on the stereo, let me know and I'll re-record it for you on an 8-track.
November 7, 1977, Hanau, Germany
Ugh....they started showing Charlies Angels over here. As you can imagine, the guys love it. They walk away from the television set with incredible hard ons after its over. They are still showing the ones with Farah Fawcett Drip. I mean...Majors. Anyways, it sucks...big time.
November 14, 1977, Hanau, Germany
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF WENDI GETS OVER... See Wendi walking guard. See Wendi Walk. Walk, Walk, Walk. See the sleet come down. Feel the wind blowing hard. See Wendi shiver. See Wendi get mad and hit building with billy club. See billy club crack. See Wendi look up. See Wendi see the light on at the WK (the place that I work at ... remember!). See Wendi "not see" the flight line. See Wendi walk into the WK. Listen to Harold say, "there's beer in the ice box if you want it." See Wendi smile and get a beer. See Wendi drink one beer. Then two. Then three. Then four. Finally five. See Wendi Walk out of the WK with only 20 minutes to walk guard. See how warm Wendi is and how good Wendi feels. THE END ... of getting over for a few hours.
April 26, 1978, Hanau, Germany
Oh! G-d was it funny. After me and Kathy finished our details, us two and Jan and Gwen were sitting up in my room drinking, bullshitting and listening to Judy Collins (my choice of music to G.I. by last night) and the damn first sergeant walked in on us. Freaked us out. Our room was still a wreck. We hadn't even touched it yet. He looked at us and looked at our rooms and BULLSHITTED AROUND with us for about 10, 15 minutes and booked. We all busted up laughing when he left, 'cause we'd just finished smoking a bowl of (GASP!) hash. HA HA HA!!
April 28, 1978, Hanau, Germany
I have to process in two dumb newbies. And believe me when I tell you they are dumb. Ex: Someone told the two twits that when you salute an officer, you say, "FTA, Short, Sir!". They did it. Got their butts chewed bigtime for it til the officer found out they were a couple of newbies. One of 'em seems to think that by writing her Congressman, she can get the hell out of here. That's a joke.
September 23, 1978, Hanau,Germany
We found out what our new pay rates will be. My raise isn't too impressive. I'm going from $505 to $533.
October 1, 1978, Hanau, Germany
Life sucks these days. How about yours? I've gotten really fed up with "Life in the 205th" and have stayed stoned the past week. Been smoking some ass-kicking hash. So ass-kicking that I wake up in the a.m. still stoned. When can you ever remember that happening to me? And then they wonder why I'm smiling when I get to work. HA! If they only knew. HA HA!!! Oh well, staying stoned, if nothing else, keeps my mind off things I shouldn't think about.
November 2, 1978, Hanau, Germany
Got a huge inspection on Saturday. Room, TA50, Class A's, Wall locker; the works. Boy am I pissed about it. A fucking Saturday morning. We're having a "pre-inspection" at 2000 tomorrow. I'm gonna be up all fucking night tomorrow trying to get ready for this fucking thing. Oh well, I'll have help. Staying awake that is. Cranking, cranking. I'm getting a gram tomorrow morning. That ought to do the trick, huh.We had a health and welfare inspection this morning. Fuckers pulled me out of bed at 0400 to check my room out for drugs. Well, let 'em check my room. My room was "clean". No dope in my "room". It was in my back pocket of my shorts that I had on. Mic had her dope in her front pocket. And, they made us stand just outside the door. So, see? No dope in MY room. HA HA!! Stupid fuckers ..
This is it for Part One, Invisible Reader. I've got to put these letters away for a while. I hope you've enjoyed these excerpts. There will be more to follow, I promise you that. These excerpts only go through 1978 and I retired in 1994.
Until the next time.....