Wednesday, December 29, 2010



the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the orderof things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause ofevents; time: 

About four o'clock this morning as I lay in bed as I was arousing from my deep nighttime sleep I got to thinking of how much the course of my life has taken by chance circumstance.

I am not a religious person.  Even though I was raised as a Christian in the Baptist faith, I was quickly dissuaded from that belief when I was about ten years old.  That was when I realized that the formal church had damned me for eternity because I was homosexual. I knew something was wrong because that was the way I was born.  Thus, at only ten years old I lost faith in "man made religion".  

However, I do believe in Fate.  Some may call Fate a Guardian Angel.  I do believe that my life has been Guided.  By whom or why, I don't know exactly why.  Maybe I'll find that out when I die.  I doubt it though.  I think when you die you enter a giant Nothingness.  The only thing that makes halfway sense to me is reincarnation but that's another whole blog posting.  In fact, that subject is a book.

What I think of is how drastically different my life would have been if not for some chance happenstance.  

I'll give you an example.  My life was pretty routine for the oldest of three sons of a truck driver father and office cleaning mother during the Fifties.  We were poor but so were many of my peers.  My life and circumstance wasn't a whole lot different from most of my classmates except that I was homosexual (even if I didn't know what that meant at that time).  However this blog posting isn't about my homosexuality.  It is about how my life took a life altering turn down a road due to what seems now like an accident of time.

After I graduated from high school I decided to join the Navy.  At that time I knew I didn't want to get drafted into the Army because I didn't want to shoot anybody or get shot at.  Also, I wanted some control over my fate.  And, I liked the Navy uniforms.  Such is the thinking of a 17 year old straight (well I wasn't "straight" but I lied) out of high school.  

A few days after graduation in June of 1959 I make the trip to the Post Office in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and go down to the basement where all the service recruiters each had a desk.  I was asked who I wanted to see. Without hesitation I said "Navy."  

There were four desks in the basement room.  One for each branch of the service:

Air Force

The Army was out.  I would have to learn to shoot somebody and be shot at.  Definitely a "No!"

The Air Force was out.  I didn't like their uniforms.

The Marines was definitely out.  I took one look at the bulldog faced Marine recruiter and knew without a doubt that I DID NOT WANT  TO GO THERE.  I surely would break my fingernails.

The Navy was IN.  It was safe, and they had cool uniforms.  Plus, I love the water.  

So I sit myself down at the Navy recruiter's desk and we begin the process.  About an hour later my papers are completed and a date is set for me to return and sign my final enlistment papers  Ron was going to join the Navy for four years.  I left the recruiting station at the Post Office to take this news home to my family.  

About a week later I get a phone call to come in and sign my enlistment papers for the Navy.  I make the trip to the Coatesville Post Office again.  I arrived around noon at the Navy recruiter's desk in the Post Office basement.  He wasn't there.  I was told my the Army recruiter (who sat at the desk across from the Navy recruiter) that he was at lunch.  

While I sat waiting for the Navy recruiter to come back from lunch, the Army recruiter started a conversation with me.  As I remember he was a handsome, friendly man.  Of course he had my full attention.  He asked me "Why are you joining the Navy?"  I told him "I want to see the world."  I didn't want to tell him that I liked their uniforms.  I knew he would think that was a silly reason and I didn't want him to think I was that shallow (even though I am and still am to this day.) However I did him that I didn't want to be in a combat unit, which was absolutely true.  I faint at the sight of blood.  Wuss that I am.  If I was in combat I would be like those fainting goats.  I would not be a good combat soldier

He told me that the Army had a program that I could join that is "99% guaranteed" that I would "see the world" plus I would only have to serve three years.  And..........I wouldn't have to serve in a combat unit.  Well, this sounded pretty good to me.  Only three years?  No combat.  No shooting or getting shot at.  Sounded good to me!

By the time the Navy recruiter came back from lunch, I was now sitting at the Army recruiter's desk having a new set of enlistment papers filled out.  The blond haired Navy recruiter gave his friend the dark haired Army recruiter a friendly, chagrined look that said "Okay, you won this time."  I sensed that this wasn't the first time that this has happened.  I felt a little guilty but I also felt that I had made the right decision.  

Thus, by this purely chance circumstance I choose a road that would forever change my life.  

If not for the Navy recruiter being out to lunch that day and the Army recruiter persuading me to join the Army, I would not have the friends that I have today.  I would not be with my life partner of the past forty-six years.  I would not be living in Delaware.  I would never have worked in the banking industry for almost forty years.  In fact, I probably would not be alive today.  

On that warm June day in 1959 my life changed forever just because the Navy recruiter was out to lunch.  

Pure chance?  I think not.  Maybe an angel was watching over me.  

My guardian angel.

Private Ronald W. Tipton 1960


  1. This was beautiful.

  2. Thank you Cubby. I am glad the way my life has turned out but I do think of how much my life would be different were it not for someone else's at the time inconsequential action. That is what I call FATE.

  3. Ron,

    Okay, pal, you are going to have to explain how all those things would or wouldn't have happened to you if you joined the Navy.

    I can understand the "friends I have today" if you are referring to friendships made in the Army.

    I also assume you might have not met Bill if you had been in the Navy that one additional year, that is quite possible.

    But why would you have never worked in banking and especially, why would you not be alive today?


  4. Okay Lar, easy answers to your excellent questions. I probably would not have worked for Girard Bank because I got the job through my friend Ron Hampton, who I met in the Army. I tried to get a job at Downingtown National Bank but they wouldn't even take my application. Small town discrimination, remember? We were born on the wrong side of the tracks in Downingtown. In Philadelphia it didn't matter where you were born.
    As for my friends, all of the friends I have today I met through my Army friends and banking friends. The only exceptions are my pre-Army friends like you, Stuart and Bill Brookover. Everyone else flows from my Army days.

    As far as me not being alive, if I was in the Navy for four years chances are I would have been involved in the Vietnam war. By only being in the Army three years, I got out just before thing heated up.
    I plan to spell all these life paths out in future blog postings. I am fascinated by the course my life has taken by chance events. Now that I'm at this point in life I can look back in retrospect and see the path my life took clearly.

  5. For a fun read - "With a Tangled Skein" by Piers Anthony.
    It is a story about Fate - which is an office 3 women have to run, and their 'learn on the job' experiences make for some rather quirky 'fates' on some people.

  6. Thank you Spo. I'll check it out.

  7. OMG, what a wonderful story. I love your glad you stopped by Bandit Talks the other day!

  8. Thank you Rick!

  9. I am updating my blog roll this weekend; I will be honored to have you on mine, unless you say no please.

  10. Absolutely Spo. I would be honored.

  11. Ron,

    I am not sure why my Blog entry showing in the Blog list is one I did a while back. I have been doing some end of year rearranging, so maybe that is why. I am currently working on a new post and i hope that will pop into your Blog list when I publish it later today.


  12. Lar,

    I don't know why, but I've frequently had trouble accessing your current blog posts. Sometimes I get double notices, then other times I get none. Right now I am not getting any notices. I haven't changed anything I'm doing on this side. Maybe you should check your settings.

  13. Ron u should have joined the MARINE CORPS it was and is a great life
    John Graveno
    MGYSGT Ret

  14. John,

    Me in the Marine Corps? Oh no. I'm sure it was a great life for you and many others but I'm not the Marine type. I'm a desk kind of guy. That's why I joined the Army. I didn't want to be shooting at anybody or have anybody shoot at me. Oh no. I could better utilize my services in a different venue. I worked at NSA for 2 1/2 years. That was more "me." However, I do appreciate your service to your country as I do all my fellow veterans. I would have also made a career out of the service if I wasn't gay but back then I couldn't take the chance of being eventually outed. It's a shame because I really liked the Army. Now with the repeal of DADT, a young man (or woman) like me will have more options to serve their country.
    I wish you and your family a very Happy New Year John.

  15. I believe in Fate too. Thanks for your great story.

  16. Oh Tai I absolutely believe in Fate. I'm not much on organized religion but I definitely believe in fate. There is a Purpose in our life. That I know.

  17. I love this post!

    There is certainly a purpose in everything. Our life may have been pre-determined but we are given free will. I could not even say what's right or wrong, but who knows?

    Happy New Year!

  18. Thank you Meg for your generous comment! I plan to post more on fate. I am fascinated by how such chance happenings affected the course of my life. Of course now I see that clearly from this vantage point but at the time I had no clue. I now wonder how much different my life would have been if not for such chance happenings.


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