If I’d had any clue that it would actually take the better part of a month (back in May) for everyone to give up telling me that I really was eighty years old, I might just have stayed at 79 for a while, before sneaking quietly into 80. No such luck. But, now that I’ve seen how great it is to be an old pharte, I should have done it ten years ago!! I remember the old line from “Cheers”: “Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name…” Ain’ it da trut? And don’t ask me how it was that I managed to survive this long.
In Japan (1945-6), I sampled my first “foreign” beer: liter bottles of Japanese Asahi, which cost ten yen ($1) and arrived with the company of a young lady and her ten dance tickets.
The first beer I ever tasted was my stepfather’s homebrew at the age of six. I had just failed the first grade. No one notified me of this failure. My mother only informed me some nine years later when I was fifteen. She had simply moved to another town and told them I belonged in the second grade. Which is where I easily succeeded as just another silly second grader.
My next beer of memory was Budweiser, but I wasn’t paying attention when, at 17, we (a troop trainload of Marines) stopped at St. Louis and toured that brewery. It was great. For the next six years I drank nothing but Hamm’s (when possible), until a friend notified me that the Hamm’s brewery was actually located in St. Paul, MN, not St. Louis, MO. So much for paying attention and staying sober.
I didn’t exactly live a delicate life, what with managing to survive two wars (WWII and Korea) through no fault of my own. I missed being sent to Iwo Jima by virtue of catching the mumps. The Marine Corps didn’t want any sickies in that operation. I might have gummed up the works severely. Then, after training me carefully in several different military arts—flight radio operator, radar operator, machine gunner, and assistant BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) ground pounding person—they finally sent me (via a very slow boat: 55-days) to Okinawa. Once there, it turned out that they hadn’t changed my MOS (military occupational specialty) to BAR person.
I ended up in the Second Marine Air Wing in Okinawa, despite the Corp’s best efforts to send me to the First Marine Division, and despite the fact that II MAW had no use whatever for another flight radio operator gunner. I spent most of my time safely on mess duty scrubbing pots and pans. I didn’t make PFC (private first class) until after the war, during the occupation of Japan in March 1946, after some 29 months service. I had led a charmed life and was having so much fun by then that I reenlisted in the reserves, which is why I was called up for Korea; but I digress, and that’s Michael Jackson’s job.