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We leave Guam for Great Lakes, Illinois

May 1, 2013

The Navy often has some interesting ways of transferring their people; in our case our duty station after the tropical paradise of Guam was Great Lakes, Illinois and we transferred there in the middle of winter! When we arrived there, it seemed that we would have picked up on the fact that things were to be different because of the temperature difference, but little boys being what they are; when the snow came down we must’ve assumed it was a new type of sand, so we went outside barely clothed to romp in it. Mom had her hands full (again!) with keeping us from getting sick with the transition, but once we learned about this stuff called snow, we quickly figured out how to play in it (who needs a sled when you have cardboard boxes?).
My first experience in a school setting was a kindergarten class on the base where my artistic bent was definitely ahead of my learning grammar or spelling. The teacher had us each make creations and was planning on putting our names on them, but I wanted to put my name on my masterpiece, so I did. Would you believe my name is Ahoy Hook?
My parents enrolled us in a local Catholic school (rather pretentious name, Mother of God) in Waukegan, Illinois. The nuns there were not willing to put up with a whole lot from us; we learned quickly that toeing the line was much easier than facing an angry nun with a yard stick. One of my most vivid memories of my time at Mother of God was a time that some cretin attempted to assault one of the nuns there; picture a wave of at least one hundred first and second graders burying this person and covering him with welts and bite marks (way to go, Eddie!). He was probably glad to see the police arrive to take him away from those crazy kids!
When Dad had completed his tour at the Recruit Training Command, we were transferred to Oceana Naval Air Station near Virginia Beach, Virginia. Dad had gone on ahead to get a house, so Mom was left to travel with three boys and a girl (ages 4 to 10) and I can still recall something that happened to me in the bus station in downtown Chicago while we waited for our bus to depart. I needed to go to the bathroom and told Mom; she (keep in mind that this was a very different world than we live in now) told me where the bathroom was and to hurry right back (“Don’t dawdle!” Whatever a dawdle was I never found out). I rode the escalator (all by myself!) to the next floor and walked to the doors labeled Men’s Bathroom, but found I had yet another choice once I got closer (keep in mind that this was 1959). There were two doors for me to pick, one labeled White and the other Colored. I was a pretty bright lad and knew I much rather go to the pretty bathroom, so I pushed open the door labeled Colored and walked inside. The room and the fixtures did not make much of an impression on me (at least one that I can now recall), but an elderly man turned as I walked in and asked me, “Young man, what are you doing in here?” When I told him why I had come to this bathroom, he laughed and smiled at me and told me that he thought that was a fine thing, but that the other bathroom was probably much prettier and was the proper one for me to use. Even at that age, I couldn’t understand why someone’s color was used to determine where they could live or go to the bathroom; still can’t, but that’s for another time.

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