Tuesday, March 07, 2006

September 1968 through July 1972

Here are some journal entries from 38 years ago. Text in [square brackets] was added recently, including notes to myself and explanations to the reader. At this time I believed in the Christian concept of God.

September 30, 1968
OCS REALLY DOES! I'll be through with this someday, God willing, and maybe someday I'll even be able to actually live with my wife. God, I THANK GOD I've made it this far through OCS. I pray for the strength, knowledge and will to make it the rest of the way (7 weeks).
["NAVOCS" means "Naval Officer Candidate School." "Really does" means "really
sucks." Insert a picture of the "cume-out board" that we created to mark the days remaining until graduation. Describe the constant terror of knowing that whoever flunked out was immediately sent to Boot Camp and subsequently to the rice paddies of Vietnam, without even a chance to go home for a visit.]
The past 11 weeks have been the longest and hardest 11 weeks of my life. I hope to God I will never have to go through anything like this in all my life again. But I sure will be proud, and most of all, thankful when that wonderful day comes when I can say goodbye forever to NAVOCS and start a life with my wife. I sure do pray to God that we'll be able to be together fairly much of the time after OCS.

We pray for a child, too. I want us to raise a fine family, with God's help.

Lord, we have so much to be thankful for!

November 11, 1968
God, it's getting closer! Joanie is pregnant, I've got shore duty, and only 10½ days to go at NAVOCS!! This will be the most thankful Thanksgiving ever! I am really looking forward to seeing our folks again!

I really wonder what kind of job I'll have down at Little Creek. I hope I'll like it. I hope it's a 9-to-5 job that will allow me to spend evenings with my wife. I hope more than ever that I'll be able to stay at a shore station the whole 3 years!

[My wife Joan suffered a miscarriage not too long after we relocated to the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA. She would get pregnant twice more - the first time with my daughter Sheri, who was born in May 1970 and son Bill, who was born in July 1972.]

September 20, 1969
Almost a year later. And so much has happened! I guess that's a rather trite phrase to use at my age (24). But it does seem that a lot has changed. Since I got out of OCS, I've been able to set up my first home with Joanie, buy our first furniture (and our first [and last!] set of encyclopedias). Got assigned to Base Legal as Discipline Officer. Three months later, in March (1969), I went to Justice School in Newport, which was a gas! I graduated 3rd in my class of 45 and worked my tail off. And enjoyed every minute of it! Joanie and I never had so much fun as we did up there. So free! I guess we appreciated the freedom so much more up there than here because we lived in the same apartments as she did when I was in OCS. After returning, we were glad to get back, and enjoyed the beaches and got a couple of bikes toward the end of the summer. But there were tragedies, too. Joanie lost her pregnancy over Christmas, which shook us up quite a bit. But we recovered, and now we think she may be pregnant again.

[We made our first trip to Nagshead in the Summer of 1969. Back then there
were no grocery stores on the Outer Banks, requiring a trip to Manteo to stock
up. Thus began a lifelong love affair with the beaches, salt air and
ambiance of the Outer Banks, which we passed down to our children, who now take
their own children to Nagshead every summer.]

By the way, she was taught a little trick at a baby shower here. A girl holds a pencil suspended on a thread tied to a pin in the eraser, over the wrist of another & the way it swings (vertical = girl; horizontal = boy) tells the order of children she'll have. Hers came out girl - boy - boy. I wonder if it will come true?

[Joan was pregnant with Sheri, our first child. She was conceived in my
childhood bedroom while we were visiting my parents over Thanksgiving weekend.]
Well, the biggest news of all (probably the biggest shock I've ever received) was when I was called by my dad on September 10 about 10:00 AM. He told me that I was going to be released from active duty by the Navy no later than October 31. OVER TWO YEARS EARLY!! I won't even make JG [Lieutenant Junior Grade]! I still find it very hard to believe it's true, and I don't guess I'll ever be able to really believe it until that last day, when I check out of the Base, get my red I.D. card [After leaving active duty officers are issued a red I.D. card], and put on the old coat & tie! Of course, I haven't the slightest idea of where I'll be working a month or two from now, but I'm (and Joanie is too) real excited about it.

The first day it struck me like a ton of bricks, and I told a few people (ruined my bosses' whole day), and I thought Joanie was going to cry over the phone when I told her at work about it. Actually I'm very tempted just to request an early out (before Oct. 31), just to make sure they don't figure out a way to keep me in before they let me go!! Went to C&P Phone Co. & filled out an application yesterday for their Management Trainee program. I'm also working through Landman Associates Junior Officer employment agency. But I hope like Hell I find a good job and not one I'll later be sorry for having taken. I really wonder what I'll be doing, and where we'll be living, whether we'll rent or buy a house, whether Joanie's pregnant, and all sorts of other questions the answers to which are in the future.

God must really have a plan for me, or be watching over us, or something. I can't imagine such "luck" (if that's what you can really call it). I mean, for me, being accepted into William & Mary, having a girl like Joanie to marry, getting into OCS just before the big cut in OCS, getting shore duty right off (in my home state), being able to furnish my home within 3 months and having it completely paid up within 6 months, and then, to top it all off, being released from active duty two years and ½ month early!! The two of us must be meant for some great plan or something, that's all I can think. All we can do, though is just to follow every lead and to try to live our lives as Christians and take every opportunity that comes our way to do what we must. Above all we must be thankful.

June 17, 1972
{Say, I don't write much better, do I} [marginal note referring to my handwriting] Well, old friend, it's been a long time! I don't suppose I knew when I last wrote in here that I'd get a job with C&P as Assistant Manager in only 10 days after my release from the Navy! And I'm in Fairfax, too, of all places!

Actually, it went like this: After being notified by the Navy (6 weeks' notice), I worked up a resume and mailed it to 96 companies around the country. But before that, I asked my boss, Don Young, where he would suggest I apply. He said maybe C&P. I asked him, "What's that, the electric or the gas company?" I went down to the employment office on Bute St. in Norfolk and filled out an application. The man there didn't hold out too much hope - (I didn't even have my resume written up yet). And I didn't do too well on the Bell System Qualification Test (BSQT) - very poor in Math though nearly perfect on Verbal. Got a letter from Al Oates (he was the college hire man then) a few days later saying they didn't have any openings for me. So I went ahead, wrote up the resume, and mailed it to the 96 companies I picked out of the College Placement Annual. I said I was applying for a job as a "Management Trainee." I sent it to mostly big companies (those with over 1000 employees), and so not too many were in Virginia.

The first nibble I got was from General Telephone's headquarters in Durham, NC (General Telephone of The Southeast). The interviewed me for a job as a staff person, writing, consolidation, and standardizing personnel practices for the many little companies they had bought out throughout the Southeast. They were very nice but didn't hold out too much hope, as they needed someone with experience.

Then, only about two weeks after my original refusal letter from C&P, Al Oates called me to ask if I was interested in a job in Fairfax! I later learned that C&P of Maryland, when they received my resume and didn't have any jobs, sent it down to Richmond. Al Oates had forgotten about his refusal letter to me, or I wouldn't have gotten the call. But he said to come on up anyway (in spite of my poor showing on the BSQT).

A couple of days later, I interviewed with Garland Carper (the District Manager), and soon I had a job! After 2½ years there, I got a lateral to a job in Forecasting. I'm going to start there Monday, working for Tom Frost. I wonder what it'll be like?!

In the home, we've had a little girl, Sheri, who's two years old and another on the way- due in about six weeks). Wonder if it'll be a boy or a girl?

July 27, 1972 - 6:25 AM
Well, I'll find out pretty soon now!

I'm getting ready to leave for the hospital. I pray to God that Joanie will be safe and as comfortable and reassured as possible, and that the baby will be born normal and healthy. If it's a boy, it'll be William Leonard; if a girl, Cindy Marie. Praise God!

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