Monday, August 05, 2013

Roads Not Taken Part Three

Elvis laughing at his Army induction physical - I wasn't so lucky - I wasn't laughing

Picking up where I left my story off yesterday, I now had my "papers" to join the Army.  The Army recruiter supplied me with a round trip bus ticket to Philadelphia.  I was to report to 401 North Broad Street in Philadelphia for my physical.  I was about to embark on the scariest adventure of my young 17 years of life.  

I took the bus from West Chester to the big city of Philadelphia.  The first time I took a "big" trip like this by myself.  I had been to Philadelphia before when I was in fifth grade for a class trip to see a Cinerama movie and the Boyd theater.  I was scared to death.  Butterflies in my stomach all the way.

I arrive at the gigantic building of 401 North Broad Street.

401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
I took the elevator to the 7th floor (I believe, if I'm not correct my friend Lar will correct me).  Once on the 7th floor I saw many other young men like myself.  I don't remember too much about the details but I do remember that we were told to take our clothes off and line up. 



The fact I wasn't alone didn't help ease those butterflies in my stomach.


Grasping my "papers" in my hand I quickly followed instructions.  Again, I don't remember to much about the sequence of events but I do remember being totally naked and told to put my toes on this broad yellow line.  A phalanx of white coated "doctors" faced us with their clipboards.  

Then one of the white coated "clipboard doctors" went to the end of the line and told the first man to cough.  Uh oh, the "cough test."  The Clipboard Doctor worked his way down the line.  He got to me.  He looked me up and down and then cupped my testicles in his right hand while holding his clipboard in his left hand.  He told me to cough.  I coughed.  He told me to cough again.  I coughed again.  He turned around and said something to one of the other clipboard doctors.  Then he told me to go over to a nearby paper covered gurney and lie on it.  I was naked.  The paper was cold.  People were walking around.  I was naked, lying face up on a "table", exposed for all to see.  And everybody was walking around.  Clipboard doctors, uniformed Army personnel, white uninformed WOMEN nurses and just plain civilians.  They might as well put me and the gurney out on Broad Street.


I ended up on The Table - Naked, ready to be groped, prodded and squeezed in full view of everyone.

The "doctor" continued down the line, cupping balls and asking the cuppee to cough.  Everyone else "passed"........except me.  Talk about butterflies.  Now I was actually getting sick.  What was the matter with me?

Several of the "doctors" came over to where I was lying face up NAKED on the gurney.  More poking, cupping and coughing.  They mumbled something among themselves, and wrote something on my papers and told me to report to a certain desk.  I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH ME.  NO ONE TOLD ME.

I reported to the desk I was told to report to.  The secretary looked at my papers, marked something on it and told me to take them to my doctor.  

I left the building with my legs shaking.  I thought I was going to die.  I really did.  I had no idea what was the matter with me.  NO ONE TOLD ME.  I looked at my papers and couldn't make sense of it.  I thought I was going to die.




I took the bus home and gave the papers to my Mother.  She looked at them and made an appointment with our doctor.  Thus began a series of events which almost cost me my young life.


Contagion Ward, Chester County Hospital.

20 comments:

  1. The suspense is killing me! What happened? Don't wait too long to write another post please!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nadege,

      A little late with my next post today. I was called into work with only an hour's notice. I'm going to try and start Part 4 now.

      Ron

      Delete
  2. Ron - this is true suspense - a cliff hanger! Geez I don't know how I would have handled that series of events when I was 17. My world was completely safe and routine. Simply school and more school. What doesn't break you makes you strong - way to go for getting thru it all.

    Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat,

      My world was safe and routine until the day I took the bus to Philadelphia and my first inductee physical. It was never the same after that. And yes you're right, what doesn't break you makes you strong. The Army was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't even want to think how I would have turned out if I hadn't joined.

      Ron

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. That's my life, a "cliff-hanger."

      Ron

      Delete
  4. Gosh, I remember a preinduction physical in '69. They used the same ear-scope on hundreds of guys without wiping it off. What on earth could alarmed them about your cough-test? These weren't real sanitary times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geo.,

      The cough-test was standard. I remember all the school physicals I had the cough-test. I always passed them. Why did I fail this time?

      Ron

      Delete
  5. Ron,
    Oh do I remember 401 North Broad Street well. I didn't enlist, I figured that I might as well wait 'till they called me. Then the dreaded letter came and I had to report to the Draft Board along with what it seemed like half of my graduating class from high school. The bat of a draft board clerk gave each of us two dimes and told us to go to 401. I had the feeling you had, butterflies and the fear that I wouldn't be able to pee into the cup, I was pee shy for years. Got to the eye test and after the doctor (?) looked at my coke bottle glasses and prescription told me forget about the army or any other branch of the service. After that I didn't have any trouble peeing or anything else. I tried to get out of the rest of the physical, what was the point, but they insisted I go anyway. OK, I finished. The test was in April, cold, rainy, dreary but I felt sunny and fresh. I would have gone in willingly if I had passed. I still didn't get a 4F classification, got 1Y which meant I could be called if the Vietnamese were marching up Broad Street. I will say that a number of classmates that were at the physical that day didn't make it back from Vietnam. It was a sad time for our country back then.

    Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jack,

      Oh Jack, I definitely didn't want to wait until they called me. That's why I joined, at least I would have some choice what I would be doing the next three years. I didn't want to live my life with the knowledge that any day "the letter" would come, changing my life forever. I just wanted to get it out of the way plus I did feel a sense of obligation of duty to my country, as unusual as that sounds today with almost all of our politicians of both parties not having the same sense of obligation.

      I too was pee shy, still am. For years I thought that was an affliction that only applied to me. I was very ashamed of it. Only later in life did I find out that many men have the same phobia.

      Your 1Y classification was the same as my friend Lar. It's a physical disqualification but in time of real need of fodder for the cannons, they'll take everybody.

      Ron

      Delete
  6. This is getting too good! I'm waiting with bated breath for the next installment!

    (what the heck is "bated" breath??)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon,

      "Bated breath" is holding your breath. Never heard of that term before? We use it all the time. Like I "await with bated breath" for you to see your house and move to the Ozarks.

      Ron

      Delete
  7. What an horrendous and invasive experience. Will stay tuned for next post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul,

      It was a "horrendous and invasive experience." That the Army. Much like doctors and hospitals. No room for modesty.

      Ron

      Delete
  8. Great story so far, Ron! (you really know how to keep a moron in suspense...lol!)

    (BTW, I joined the Army at 18. My group couldn't get a flight to Ft. Polk, LA, so we took a Greyhound *bus* from Baltimore to New Orleans, then Army transport to Ft. Polk, "The Armpit of the Army.")

    :-)

    -Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andy,

      Believe it or not I had heard that Ft. Polk was "The Armpit of the Army."

      Ron

      Delete
  9. this is the first time I have seen elvis without clothes...ew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne Marie,

      Elvis was never my type, in our out of clothes. I liked his music though.

      Ron

      Delete
  10. Ron...and Jon,

    "Bated" mean very anxiously, so when you wait with bated breath it kind of means are in a state of great suspense or anticipation, kinda where you hold your breath waiting to see what happen, so Ron better do his next post quickly so you can breathe normally again.

    I think, Ron, I should do a post on my Pre-Induction Physical experience at 401 North broad as well, though I did do one before I believe.

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lar,

      Your definited of "bated breath" is more complete than mine. I always thought it was holding or interrupting your breath awaiting for something to happen.

      Ron

      Delete