I hadn't talked to my folks for a couple of weeks, so I gave them a call this morning. Mom was out at an exercise class with their friend Doris, so Dad and I chatted for a few minutes. Well...about 90 or so! Once we get going, we have a lot of fun trying solve the world's problems. We never succeed, but we enjoy the attempt!
Dad told me a story he'd never told me before, and it really tickled me. He joined the Army right after he finished high school (I think this was in 1941), and was sent to Washington (state) for training. He said that one time, they were out in the field for three solid weeks, and they finally got a night "off," and they went into town. He said it was a little town called Spanoway (I don't know if that's the correct spelling), just outside of Tacoma. There was an old saloon there, and all the guys took it by storm. Dad said he didn't go into the bar, he got a jug of wine or something and was hanging around outside. (My Dad is a teetotaler now, but he was apparently a bit of a wild child back in the day.) Dad said that the guys actually threw out the bartender of the saloon, and a guy named Virchek started serving drinks. Another guy, one they called Blue Eyes, went in there, and Dad said he didn't know what Blue Eyes did, but Virchek ended up throwing HIM out. Dad said that Blue Eyes was a little guy, smaller than him. My Dad is all of 5'6", so Blue Eyes really was pretty small. He said that after Virchek threw him out of the saloon, Blue Eyes grabbed a two-by-four off of the fence railing, and just stood there outside the door of the saloon, waiting for Virchek. When Virchek came out the door, little Blue Eyes hauled off with that two-by-four and walloped Virchek in the face with it. He sent Virchek to the hospital. The ending of the story?
Dad: "Nobody ever messed with little Blue Eyes after that."
Yikes! No doubt!
The other story had to do with his time in training in Washington. He met a girl named Lorraine one Sunday, at a local lake. He asked her out, and they were to meet the following Sunday for their date. That week, Dad shipped out to go overseas. Now, we had all seen pictures of Lorraine, ones that she sent to him when he was in North Africa, and always ribbed Dad a little bit about it. He always said, "Hey, just keep in mind that she wrote to me every single day that I was overseas. That meant a lot." Well, I just found out today that they never actually went on a date--they just met that one time, and then Dad shipped out! Wow, I know I love him to pieces, but he must have really made an impression on Lorraine!
Well, after Dad got back from the war, he started dating my Mom. He corresponded a couple more times with Lorraine, but then got all caught up in courting Mom and just let things slide with Lorraine. He said he always felt guilty about that, felt like he'd let her down, so he found her last name in the phone book. It turned out to be her little brother, and Dad spoke to his wife. She gave him Lorraine's phone number, so Dad called her up. When he told her that they met on a Sunday, Lorraine asked, "Did anything happen?" Turns out--this is kind of a sad part--Lorraine has Parkinson's disease, and she didn't remember anything about Dad or that time in her life. Dad said, "You can imagine what THAT did for my ego!" <grin> They ended up talking for a good hour, and she'd gotten married in the fall of '46, right after Dad got back, so he realized she wasn't sitting around waiting for HIM, either. She was happily married, with five girls, and Dad was able to tell her how much her letters meant to him, and ease his mind a little bit--they both ended up having happy marriages and happy lives, and there was no need for him to continue feeling guilty. (Have I mentioned what a great guy my Dad is?)
We talked a little about how some things are or aren't meant to be. I said that in another place and another time, things might have been different, but my Dad was meant to be with my Mom, not Lorraine. Dad agreed. I told him that it was a remarkable thing that she did, writing all those letters to keep a homesick soldier company. I said, "And look at us...here we are, 60 years later, talking about her. She did something important in writing you those letters."
So here's to Lorraine in Tacoma, Washington. I've never met you, and I probably never will, but I've seen your pictures. Thanks for helping my Dad get through his time overseas during the war, and for giving him some fond memories. Thank you, Lorraine.