Sunday, January 20, 2013
my mother did not like to travel, but wartime is odd. my father joined the navy by lying about his age. at first he was stationed in lubbock, texas, to train for the naval air corps. but for reasons never quite satisfactorily explained to me-- he went awol to marry, or married men were disqualified were two reasons told to me over the years. i also wonder whether he might have been a little careless with the navy' s aircraft. he was reassigned to communications, and my mother visited him in mississippi, at millsaps college, and in north carolina, at chapel hill. his mother went with her, and embarassed her by trying to pick up younger men, as my mother told the story to me.
these trips were surpassed. the u.s. dropped the bomb on the japs,* the war ended, and my father was soon headed to san diego. he had been on a small boat packed full of electronics that were important to the invasion of japan that never happened. i know very little else of his wartime activities. there are a few photos of him sitting around in dorms in his underwear. he told me one story about stealing a sword in hawaii. but my mother was happy to tell of her train trip to san diego, and their first dance together after the war, at the officers' s club, and the big blue boarding house where she waited with other navy wives for the ships to come in.
i was conceived in a corner room of that boarding house. once i drove as far as san clemente, thinking i might visit the place of my beginning, but i stopped at a trader joe' s instead and bought food for a sunset picnic on the beach.
fifty years after the big event, i bought an ibm thinkbook, trying to get mother interested in something, hoping that virtual travel at least might amuse her without frightening her. what would she like to see? the san diego officers' club. it had just been restored. yes, she said, that' s what it looks like. it was her only google search.
*be warned. i will use the vocabulary of the time i' m describing, despite the fact thatthat now of course we are all damn near perfect, having no racism or sexism or agism or any other unkind or judgmental traits.