Sunday, September 11, 2016

Annie Weber – Installment 20

Life was certainly different on the base. Back home, I had the whole house, a big garden and half the farm chores to do, it seemed. On the base, all I had to take care of was a tiny little trailer. It was kept spotless; you can be sure of that. I was used to working all day, so I couldn’t just sit around. I cleaned just about everything every day. The mahogany walls and ceiling were kept polished and the outside of the trailer washed. Occasionally, I even took my little cookstove apart and cleaned it, including all the screws and the holes they went into. At monthly inspection, the sergeant always said that it was the cleanest trailer he’d ever seen. That was why, when I finally wrestled the bed upright and found a hole underneath big enough for an animal to crawl through, that it got fixed so quickly. The sergeant replaced the whole floor in the bedroom and then went on to do the whole trailer. Some of the other wives were jealous, but I never told them the reason that I got it. I figure they’d have been offended.

Roy was thrilled to discover what a good cook I was. I guess he figured most girls my age didn’t know their way around a kitchen, and maybe that was so. However, I’d been cooking for a large family almost from the time that I could stand at the kitchen stove. When we had money to spare, I’d bake cookies and he’d have his friends and their wives over for coffee.

“Money to spare,” that was a dumb thing to say, I guess. No military couple or family ever has money to spare. It was made worse for me and Roy because neither of us had ever lived on our own and didn’t know how to shop for groceries or manage our food supply. Roy had lived at home until he entered the service, and while I knew how to cook, I never shopped for groceries. Dad always stopped at the store on his way home from work if we needed anything, and we always had big gardens and home-grown meat, eggs and milk. We tended to buy too much of the wrong things and then eat it up too soon. Before Roy’s next paycheck would arrive, we’d be living on coffee and donuts that he’d sneak home from the mess hall, and there was precious little of that.

I remember that a sergeant that lived close by once bought a huge pizza, ate a couple pieces and gave the rest to use, saying that he knew that he just couldn’t eat it all. We didn’t like pizza that well, but we were so hungry that we didn’t care; we were thrilled. We knew, though, that he just did it because he somehow knew that we were going hungry and wanted to help us out. May God bless that man!

I practically owe my life to Maria, my Panamanian friend next door, for teaching me to plan our meals ahead, buy food accordingly and to ration everything so it would last. Things got easier after that, but they NEVER got easy. The military doesn’t really give couples or families enough to live on, and then they wonder why so few good men re-up. (Unless you’re an officer, of course, then you get the best of everything.)


kissesmylove said...

i enjoyed reading this, Gorges... thank you for sharing

Gorges Smythe said...

Glad you enjoyed it, kml, it's a true story of a neighbor lady of mine, with the name changed, of course.