Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back to Bootcamp...but maybe a digression

Well It's been a bit of time since I blogged about MCRD boot camp. My dad suffered a stroke on Jan 5 and died on Jan 21. What does that have to do with the Marine Corps you might say. Well It's really kinda simple. I was the oldest sibling in my family. I was the oldest grandchild on my mothers side. It is said that I was babied, cuddled and every one's favorite. That's a heck of a lotta pressure on a guy. My folks came from good honest work-the-land Arkansas share croppers. My dad always said, "Don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out!" I guess we all thought Grandpa Turpin was an mean ole cuss, and my dad sorta inherited his outlook on life. My dad lied about his age and joined the Navy in 1943 and went off to WWII all to escape poverty. He quit school after the 8th grade cause he said that he couldn't stand the teasing...he was teased because of his poverty....had to leave school every September right after it started to pick cotton. He had a younger brother as the story goes, died in his arms as he was trying to take him to the hospital by foot. Billy was his name, I think he died of dysentery and diarrhea. Dad was going to make a better life for himself in spite of his meager history. Grandpa Turpin had some land west of Little Rock. Each living sibling got 5 or so acres. Dad built a cinder block house about 10 foot wide and 20 foot long. Before that, we lived in a log cabin about a half mile away. I was 1 or 2 then....too bad I didn't grow up to be President. Back at the house, me, Johnny and Joey all lived in a simple one room block home. We didn't have running water at first so we had to walk through the woods to Grandpa's well and fetch a 5 of water. We had an was a two hole'r. Some years later, they added a kitchen and bathroom on the the block house. Man were we cookin' now. Grandpa convinced the city that he had a farm, well he did have a big garden, and they put in an extra big meter for irrigation. All the houses tied into that meter and voila we have running water. Cycle way forward...but one comment, Grandpa wanted me to be a doctor and take care of him. It seemed that I got the best grades of all my cousins honor roll etc....a lot of expectations. over a 3 or 4 year period, Dad built a frame house on top of the cinder block. It was now a split level but we called the old part the basement. Wood floors modern amenities etc. I haven't mentioned Mom much, she died 11 years ago deserved a better life but at least had a new home back then. It suffices to say that as I became a teenager I had all the pains, pimples, challenges that everyone has. My dad wasn't very concerned with my problems. Like all boys of that day, a car was the deal. We had a '65 Impala and when I got my drivers lic. I got to borrow it some. Many of my friends had cars but I hadn't yet figured out that I needed to work, save and buy one. I made it through high school, even road the buss my senior year, at least most of the time. During football season, some of my friends would pick me up for practice and take me home again. Fighting over a car was a pretty common thing at my house. Fast forward a little---off to college, University of Arkansas....way over my league then. I was salutatorian in high school and pretty smart but not much 'push'. Had a 'sweet heart' back in high school, no money, no car and you can aching in my heart. Oh and I was pre-med....remember my Grandpa...I sorta flunked/drank/sobbed my way out of Fayetteville and back to home. Remember the cars, conflict again. Mom convinced me to enroll in LRU (Little Rock University) for a semester and I sorta tried. Wasted that money too as it turns out.  Good enough for me....Never mind Viet Nam, I was getting the hell outa Little Rock and for awhile, away from my Dad. He always said, "Life's tough all over". I did reek havoc on his cars as a teenager and he said many times, "When ya got kids, that's all ya got." ....went to the airport on October, 13 1969 and I'm on the way to becoming a Marine and a man. That's the connection.