Reading my blog roll this morning, the general subject seems to be the snow. Well, we've had our fair share here in LSD (Lower Slower Delaware) but this time we dodged a snow storm. While it's still gray and cold outside, the snow is gone, thank goodness.
All this snow reminds me of this time exactly fifty-one years ago. While there are a lot of things I've forgotten in the past fifty-one years (A LOT!), something I will never forget.
January 27th, 1960 is the date I got on a Trailways bus out of Philadelphia and with millions of butterflies in my stomach, I headed to the Great Unknown. The Great Unknown this time was Ft. Dix, New Jersey. I was about to begin basic training.
To say that I was nervous would be a massive understatement. My legs were wobbling when I piled off that Trailways bus at the bus depot in Ft. Dix.
I won't go into all the details of that first day in this posting, I'll save that for a future posting. In fact I'll save that for several future postings because I remember EVERYTHING ABOUT THOSE EIGHT WEEKS. Every event is imbedded in my brain including my Serial Number RA 13 678 593 (see, I remember it to this day). That was how we identified ourselves. First name? Forget it. My name after I got off that bus was "F__cking Trainee":
Anyway, the point of this posting is that I only have one official mug shot of my time in the Army. It was taken along with my fellow F__cking Trainees" (we were further identified by out last names only). Most of my fellow sufferers were Army reservists and a few draftees. Actually I was part of an elite group in basic training. I was an "RA" which stood for Regular Army. We always got to go first in line for mess hall and we were usually last to be chosen for the really dirty jobs. Other than that, we were required to rise and shine at 2:30 am in the morning to stand out in the cold and WAIT.
Back to the point of this posting. You will see a page of photos. Look at the bottom row, second from the left. That is yours truly. To my left was my friend Michael Tine from Massachusetts. Oh yes, this was in the Fifties Era when everyone was placed alphabetically.
I remember the day they herded us in to have our picture taken. I was beside myself because I felt I needed a haircut and I didn't have a chance to get one. Our pictures were taken and I was given the opportunity to purchase them. I passed. I assumed I would have another chance later when a better picture was taken. Guess what? In my three years in the Army I never had another official portrait picture taken. I didn't even think about it until I got out. Sure, I had plenty of candid photos of myself. Well, really not that many but enough. But I never again had that iconic picture taken. You know, the one they show in the newspaper when you're killed in action.
So, the only official Army picture I have of me is the one from our basic training yearbook. Actually, in a way it's good because seeing all the other guys I took basic training with, brings back fond memories. Really, it does. Basic Training and my three years in the Army were the best three years of my life. If I wasn't gay I would have made a career out of the service. But, you know what the rules were Back Then.
So there it is, Private Ronald Walter Tipton, F--king Trainee.