Friday, January 1, 2010

40 Years

It had been quite a ride, going off to the USAF for basic training on August 15, 1969. I guess that's because I must have signed the delayed enlistment papers around May 15, 1969, just days before my college graduation. I had the option of delaying actual departure for up to 90 days, which I did in order to be able to spend a summer doing a variety of things.
First, I took a trip back to Albany, New York, to visit a friend, Joanne, who was then a graudate student in biochemistry at the State University of New York. She and I had gotten to know each other the previous summer when I was a student in Austria. We had written letters during the ensuring year.
She was from Arlington, MA; I from Arlington, NE. The two Arlingtons could not have been more different. She showed me Boston and New England.
Then I drove back to Illinois to visit my friend Hans, a graduate student in the German Department at the U. of Nebraska. He showed me the Chicago commuter rail lines, German restuarants on Lincoln Avenue.
Then it was time to head west. I visited my cousin, Chuck Stork, who then worked for John Deere in Moline, Illinois. We toured several Deere facilities. Then, home to Arlington.
I worked on the farm that summer. Visited my friend Wayne Pfeiffer, grad student in ag economics, in Lincoln a couple of times. I had a couple of dates, went to a stock car race or two. I worked as a welder at my cousin Verdel's tiny manufacturing plant, did three weeks of inventory at Green Valley Implement in Fremont. Then it finally came time to head off to San Antonio in the heat of August.
I spent an extra month in San Antonio after basic because my background investigation was taking longer than normal due to my extensive travels overseas. Finally the orders for Syracuse, New York, came through. Intensive Russian at the Defense Language Institute's East European Language Program at a little detachment known as Skytop with WWII temporary buildings for classrooms and late 50's vintage brick dormitories for barracks.
From the heat of summer to the frost of winter. Then snow. I took leave while classes were out and flew home for Christmas. Not sure when I had to be back after New Year, but I did spend New Year's Eve in Lincoln with college friends--more grad students who were avoiding the draft. I probably flew on January 1 or 2, no later.
The picture was probably taken in mid-January or February of one of the longest winters of my life. No car. A few buses. Lots of walking in the cold, more snow than I'd seen in years. In the ancient, make-do buildings and in the cold and snow it seemed the perfect place for total immersion in Russian.
40 years ago. Just look at that kid in the picture! Today I only walked two miles and ran two miles instead of the usual four. I have a cold. Great to have a body that's held up this well after all these 40 yrs. 14,610 days. 350,640 hours.
Come to think of it, let it snow! Happy New Year!

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