Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some Things That Happened After I Got Home From The Military

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

A couple months after I got home my step-mother had gall bladder surgery. She came out of the hospital with some gallstones in a plastic vial. Within a few weeks of the surgery she died. She was buried in a cemetery in an area in Northern Wisconsin that had the same name as the area where she was from in Finland.

A month or so later my dad died. We all joke about how the shock of surviving my step-mother killed him. She had had several husbands and out-lived all except my dad. Not quite sure how many she had, around four or five.

After my dad's funeral, my brothers and I went to a lawyer to arrange for my dad's estate to be probated. He had too many things to not go through probate. If the only thing had been the house or a car, probate wouldn't have been necessary. He had a house, car and a pickup and four sons who got to divvy up these things. Also there was the "Ranch UP on the Tundra" but my name was already on the deed with a survivorship clause. My two oldest brothers lived in states halfway across the country and my next oldest brother had a full time job working rotating shifts. As I was unemployed at the time, I was made the administrator of my dad's estate, such as it was.

Being an administrator wasn't too difficult, had to make a number of trips to the lawyer's office for various things. I was glad we had gotten a lawyer to do the probate because a step-daughter from one of my step-mother's other marriages came around raising all kinds of hell about how she should get everything and my family wasn't entitled to anything from my step-mother's estate. I guess the money she got in the form of mutual funds and/or bonds wasn't enough for her. Michigan law states that everything goes to the surviving spouse, which was my dad because he outlived her. After listening to her (the evil step-daughter) for awhile ranting about she should get everything and we should get nothing, I told her to go see my lawyer. After she left I called my lawyer and warned him that she was on her way to see him. He said, "Good, I'll show where the bear shit in the buckwheat". When I next talked to my lawyer, he said she was the most miserable bitch he'd met. I never heard from her again. I sure was glad I had a lawyer to back me up.

What took the longest was waiting for the house to sell. The vehicles were no problem, we decided I would get the truck and my brother in Georgia would get the car. The value of the car and truck would be figured into the total and be part of our shares. I drove the car down to GA and brought it to my brother. It was in Dec and at the time could not get used to Xmas music with no snow on the ground, so I came home the weekend before Xmas and was greeted by several feet of snow. Anywho, after the house sold (it took like two years), I spilt the money up and sent it to my brothers. By then I had sold the truck in order to make it through the strike at the place where I worked at the time.

Here is a picture of the car at my brother's house.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Draft Card

When I got home, I had a stack of DD214s and managed to use up most of them. I needed to use one when I signed up for Unemployment Insurance, one for the Draft Board(Selective Service) and I put one on file at the county court house for future reference(glad I did as I have been back a couple of times to get copies). Don't remember where all I needed to bring a copy of my DD214, but used up most of them.

After I brought a copy of my DD214 to the Draft Board, I received in the mail a new draft card. This time it said 4A instead of 1A. 1A meant you were a prime candidate for the draft. As I liked to joke, 4A meant they would be drafting women and priests before me. (Actually that's not true as anyone that's been paying attention to what's happening with the troops these days with call-backs and holds requiring either that they report back to the military or they're forced to stay in past their discharge date.) If they had tried to call me back, I would have gone around the lake and taken up residence in Canuck Land.

A couple of years after I got out, they eliminated the draft. In order to get people to sign up without pressure from the draft, they raised the pay for the military. Before I got out I was making $283.50 a month before taxes as an E-4 with over three years in. When they got rid of the draft, starting pay in Basic Training was $400 a month. My first job out of High School I was making $100 a week before taxes and that was about 8 years earlier, so it still wasn't good money, but it was better than when I was in the military.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Home From The "War"

When I got home(after straddling that grey dog), I was planning on staying at the 'Ranch' in the "Little House". As it was February, it would be easier to heat the little two room cottage than the bigger house on the place. As it was I barely got the chill out of the place. A friend said I could stay with him and his new wife as he had a spare bedroom. It made sense at the time because I had to walk into my place as the road wasn't plowed for the last 800 feet or so. The snow was 3-4 feet deep, but with snowshoes it wasn't too bad and after awhile the path gets packed and frozen to the point where you don't need snowshoes to walk on it. Also the place didn't have running water, so I would have been roughing it (just like I did before I went into the military).

"The Little House" about 4-5 years after I got home from the war.
I stayed there for a couple of months. We did a lot of partying even tho my friend had a full-time job. My friend's wife had been a stripper up in Fairbanks, AK where they met. She had done a few gigs locally, too. She was a nice person when sober, but could get strange when drunk. One night after drinking, she slashed her face with a razor blade in several places while watching Johnny Cash on TV and I had to haul her downtown to the ER. The doctor on call that night refused to treat her because he figured (rightly) that she was lying about how she injured herself. The doctor that finally sewed her up was from the same small town as us and instead of haranguing her about how it happened, he just calmly sewed up her face while telling jokes.

There were a number of things that happened during the time I stayed with them and by the time I moved back to my place I was a little scared of her, having seen her in action while drunk. Turned out I needn't have been scared of her as she really liked and respected me because no matter how hard she tried, I wouldn't have sex with her. She was my friend's wife and there was no way I would do that. Of course, if she hadn't been married to my friend, it might have been different. She was an attractive woman I would have been ready to jump in the sack with her if it hadn't been for this one little thing, she was married to my friend!!

Anywho, after she set fire to the woodshed and burnt it down, I moved back to my place as things were getting too crazy around there. By then most of the snow had melted and it was easier for me to get in and out of my place. I think my friend and his wife came to some kind of understanding and they made plans to bring her back to Fairbanks. We did a car swap (one dead car for another dead car) and I helped fix up my old T-Bird for the trip to Alaska. We did an engine-transmission transplant and welded patches on the body to plug the rust holes to try and keep the dust out as most of the Al-Can highway is unpaved.

The attacks on my virtue continued, and I continued to resist. Looking back, it does my ego good to think about how often she tried and the things she did to entice me!!!
The Rest Of The Story: my friend brought her back to Fairbanks and left her in the same bar he found her in. He said he tried to leave her on the same bar stool, but there was someone sitting on it that wouldn't move, so she got left on the stool next to it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Trip Home

I left Cape Cod driving this truck. It had it's problems, probably the worst one it turned out was that it would not stay in high gear. It kept jumping out of gear and I was driving with one hand on the shifter and pulling it back into high gear when it would pop out. A few hours into my trip, while on the Mass Pike, I felt something weird. Stopped on the shoulder to check it out and discovered a couple of studs on one of the rear wheels had snapped off and the wheel was loose. Tightened the wheel and continued on my way, but no longer pulling back on the shifter. Some time later got a real weird feeling and pulled over again. Four out of the five studs on the wheel were gone. I sat on the guard rail behind the truck and waited. After awhile a State Patrol stopped and asked what the problem was. I showed him and he called a wrecker. While waiting for the wrecker, the cop said I was smart to sit on the guard rail where I could see the traffic coming at me. He said he had had to dive over the guard rail a time or two because of vehicles coming at him. Seems those videos you see about cars or trucks hitting cars parked on the shoulder are not a recent thing. Probably been happening since there have been more than a couple cars on the road.
Anywho, the studs breaking ruined a new chrome reverse wheel which pissed me off enough that I junked the truck for the tow charge. I could have fixed it, but figured if I didn't even make it out of the state then it would probably not make another thousand miles that I had to go to get home.

I got most of my stuff out of the truck(there were some car&truck parts left), called a cab and went to the bus station. Some things that I had boxed up, I shipped on ahead and bought a bus ticket to my brother's house. Spent some time at my brother's house as I was not in a hurry to get home because it was the middle of the winter and I knew the snow would be asshole deep to a tall giraffe at the 'Ranch' UP on the Tundra.

After several days I bought another bus ticket for the rest of the way home. On the way, I stopped in Detroit and visited my cousin for a few days.

Finally after two weeks or so of traveling I arrived home(or the town with bus service closest to home) and was greeted by a snowstorm.

The next day I went to the unemployment office to sign up. The woman at the unemployment office(the one who acted like the money came out of her pocket) said I couldn't sign up for 'x' number of days because I sold back 'x' number of days of leave. I said count the days since I got out because it has been 'x' number of days. She had to admit I was right and signed me up for unemployment. I was to get the handsome amount of $45 a week. My vacation had started!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Normal Military SOP

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how we got word on our early discharges. I started processing out the next day. First thing I did was go for a discharge physical. I only got a couple hours sleep the night before thinking about all the things I would do when I became a free man again. Had to lay down twice to get my blood pressure down enough to pass. After that I went around to all the places that I needed process out. Finally I got to the point where the only places left needed a copy of my discharge orders. When it got down to a couple days before my discharge date and still no orders, I was given a copy and sent to an office where multiple copies were made so I could now give a copy to each place that required one.

On the day that I turned in my ID card and got my final check, there on a table in the room for the final processing was a stack of orders for me a half-inch thick.

Shortly before my discharge I got another set of orders. These were for my promotion to E-5. They said the promotion was effective the first of the following month, a couple of days after my discharge!!

Monday, January 11, 2010


One time when we were standing around bullshitting, a Lifer named Rodriquez asked another Lifer if he had ever had frijoles. The other Lifer said, "Fuck no, I've always had to pay for mine!!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold Temps

With all the talking heads on the tube talking incessantly about the cold weather, it reminds me of that winter on Cape Cod. I saw a headline on a Boston paper that screamed about "30 Days Below Freezing". I had a good laugh as I didn't think that was anything to put in a paper as news. Where I grew up 30 days with below zero temps was not news. The damp chill from being right on the ocean can cut through to the bone, but isn't news to anyone who has lived there.

That time on Cape Cod I didn't experience a complete winter. I got there at the end of one calendar winter and left half way through the next. On subsequent times living on the Cape I have been through several winters. Those times will be later in this narrative if I get that far down the road in my work history.