Monday, July 26, 2010

The End In Sight

The Navy years were drawing to a close.  We couldn't wait for them to end and for Joe to get back to college.  The entire four years felt as though they were a part of our lives that were in parentheses, not really our lives, the lives that we'd planned, but rather something we just had to get through.  Uncertainty and waiting were two hallmarks of the experience.

Sea duty aboard the Orion did turn out to be as promised.  The ship went out on a three-or-four-day cruise every three months or so.  The rest of the time, it stayed in port serving as a repair base for the submarines that pulled up alongside it.  Every fourth night and every fourth weekend day Joe had to stay on the ship on duty.  The rest of the time, he went back and forth from home, like a "real job."  On the weekend duty days, I'd usually go aboard ship and have dinner with him.  The food was surprisingly edible, although I remember the milk as tasting funny.  A few times I stayed for the movie that was being shown.

 When we arrived in Norfolk, we learned almost immediately that the ship was going to move to Charleston; we just didn't know when.   

It turned out to be early in the winter of 1970.  We spent the last week of November getting packed, and since we were so close to Williamsburg, Virginia, we had our Thanksgiving dinner there that year.  We arrived in Charleston and rented a little townhouse that was brand new.

I quickly landed a job at The Citadel, working in the Armory in the Sports Information Office.  This was, of course, back when it was an all-male school.  I enjoyed my work, but didn't invest too heavily in it.  I had what the Navy called "short timer attitude."  While we were in Charleston, Joe learned that he'd passed the exam for promotion to E-5, but declined the promotion because in order to accept, he had to have a certain amount of time remaining on his enlistment, and that would have complicated our hope for an "early out."

People nearing the end of their enlistment who were planning to go to school often were able to get discharged early.  Joe's enlistment was scheduled to end on October 5, 1971, and because of our firm commitment to have him return to school (and get on with our real lives), he was able to be discharged just in time for the fall quarter to start.  We moved to Kent, Ohio near the end of August, got settled, and he returned to Charleston to live aboard the ship while I began to look for a job.

One of the happiest times I can remember was the evening I drove to the Akron-Canton Airport to pick him up as he wore his Navy uniform for the last time!


Karen said...

I have really enjoying reading the story of your early married years. Thanks so much for sharing, you are such a good writer : )

Pat said...

Phooey. I do not want the story to end (stamping feet and balling up fists). More!!! (please).

Gretchen said...

I agree with Pat who commented above me; I don't want the story to end! You might as well start on a serialized memoir:) Thanks so much for sharing.

Quayquilter said...

I loved reading about the early years of your marriage - it must have been very hard.
And what a lot you've got done since my visit!

Lori said...

What a great story!! May I ask why you chose Ohio to move to?