Love Letters

Our Love Begins

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Our Love Begins

My family, The Blakleys, moved to Van Vleck, Texas in the Summer of 1966. My parents, Jim and Mary Blakley, were teachers. I was one of five children, the only girl, and if you were going according to the pecking order, number two. I would be a Junior in High School in the Fall of 1966. Frank had lived in Van Vleck, Texas and in Sugar Valley, a little community about three miles outside of Van Vleck, for all but a couple of years of his life. Frank was the son of Loren and Peggy Henderson. Frank was the oldest of three children. He had one brother and one sister. Although we were the same...

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The Hayride, Chapter Two

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The Hayride, Chapter Two

As President of the MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship), Frank decided to plan some fun events for us all. Since Frank’s Dad owned hay trucks, Frank decided it would be fun to have a hayride. After borrowing his Dad’s hay truck, Frank loaded it with bales of hay placed around all sides, so everyone could sit on top of the bales then lean back on the sides of the truck. Frank got in the truck and then headed to my house to pick me up then we drove to the church to pick up all of the other MYF members. When we arrived at the church everyone was anxiously waiting then climbed on board...

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New Year’s Eve, Chapter Three

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New Year’s Eve, Chapter Three

About a month or so after our first date and during our Christmas break, Jimmy, Frank and I  were invited to a New Year”s Eve 1967 party in Houston, Texas which was at my cousin and her husband’s house. We left Van Vleck and all went to my cousin’s home, together in my brother’s car. My cousin and her husband already knew Frank because they had met him at my Grandfather’s funeral in December, so no introductions would be needed. After we arrived at the party everyone was already in party mode and munching on snacks that my cousin had provided for everyone.  The...

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A Long Way Home, Chapter Four

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A Long Way Home, Chapter Four

One night after Frank and I left Cains where we had sat and visited with our friends, he asked me if I wanted to take a different road on our way back to Van Vleck to take me home. Frank told me it was a shell road and it was a nice scenic drive which would take us a back way into Van Vleck. Something told me told me that maybe Frank had something more on his mind than looking at the scenery, especially since it had been raining and there was a creepy fog hugging the ground which made it hard to see anything. I told Frank, “I don’t think we will be able to see anything with the...

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February 7, 1968, Chapter Five

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February 7, 1968, Chapter Five

In mid January 1968, Jimmy and Frank were supposed to register to go back to school at Wharton County Junior College but after talking with the registrar and my Dad, they decided to enlist in the Army. It seems that they had been spending more time drinking Tall Boy beer and playing pool at a place nearby the college than going to classes. Their grades had also suffered badly. Since going to college and making good grades was their only deferment from being drafted, it was in their best interest to just join the Army. Frank and Jimmy went to a recruiter to talk to him about their best...

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Rabbit Hunting, Chapter Six

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Rabbit Hunting, Chapter Six

Time was moving very fast for us now and we had so much to do before Frank would leave for Army Basic Training.  We only had eleven more days to spend together before Frank would leave. I knew some of Frank’s family from the church but others who lived in close nearby towns wanted to meet me and were inviting us to their homes for supper. An Aunt and Uncle of Frank’s who lived in Sweeny, Texas were the first to invite us to supper. Frank and I had a great time at his Uncle and Aunt’s home in Sweeny and after it got dark we left their home then headed back to Van Vleck....

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First Letters from Basic, 1968

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First Letters from Basic, 1968

  Leaving on a Jet Plane   Frank had boarded an airplane at Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, in the afternoon of February 25, 1968, and my brother, Jimmy, was with him. The airplane was headed for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where they would do their Army Basic Training. He wrote his first letter to me aboard that airplane. He was worried, nervous and a little scared of what was to come at Fort Leonard Wood.   February 25, 1968 Dear Nancy, This letter is coming to you from 33,000 feet in the air. I’m writing this at 6:15 P.M. from this sickening thing they call a jet. Let me tell you,...

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More Letters from Basic, 1968

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More Letters from Basic, 1968

 Lonely within a Crowd I was so excited when the next two letters arrived.                                                           March 3, 1968 Dear Nancy, Last night had to be the loneliest night of my life. It was Saturday night and everyone was sad because they were all thinking about how it was last Saturday night and they were all wishing they were home. Darling, I missed you so much I almost died. I met some nice guys who have become some real buddies. This one who sleeps next to mine and Jimmy’s bunk has been going with his girl for three years and we spent all night walking...

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Letters 5 & 6 from Basic, 1968

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Letters 5 & 6 from Basic, 1968

Please, Mr. Postman The next letter from Frank shows just how upset and isolated he was feeling.  He had not received my letters but they were at least on the way.      March 7, 1968, Dear Nancy, I finally got a pen (19 cents).  I wanted to write you this letter in ink for a change.  As you know, I’m lonely after a week and I’m tired both physically and mentally and Nancy, like I warned you before I left, I’m liable to say anything when I get in my depressed moods so don’t think anything about it because you know I love you and trust you. I guess you are getting tired...

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Letters 7 & 8 from Basic, 1968

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Letters 7 & 8 from Basic, 1968

  Marching In the Snow Frank had been gone for over two weeks when I got the next letter from him.  Just when he was beginning to adjust to being away from home Mother Nature gave him a new form of adjustment.     March 13, 1968  Dear Nancy,  Last night (Monday), it started snowing, well it started snowing while we were in the theater listening to some men talk, and it snowed all night and all day today until about 5:00 this afternoon and it was so damn cold.   We had to march about 1 mile to the theater and 1 mile back two times today and the snow was about 6 to 8 inches deep and then the...

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Letters 9 & 10 from Basic, 1968

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Letters 9 & 10 from Basic, 1968

Basic Training “Fun” I sent Frank my Senior picture in a letter right before receiving the following two letters from him.  I still had my braces on but that did not keep me from smiling for the picture, just for him.     March 16, 1968  Dear Nancy,  This letter is going to be dedicated to answering your questions in the latest letters today, Saturday, March 16, 1968, but first I have to tell I love you very much and that’s 3 small words to cover a very strong undefinable feeling I have for you.    You asked about the exercises.  Yes, they are hard but I’m getting in...

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Letters 11 & 12 from Basic, 1968

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Letters 11 & 12 from Basic, 1968

The next letter you will read really upset me. Frank was so far from home and so sick. As soon as Frank could, he would call home to his folk’s house collect from a phone booth, so I could talk to him       March 25, 1968  Dear Nancy,  This a very depressing letter, so if you want to throw it away do it now.  Thursday night I got two shots and then at 6:00-8: 30 p.m., I had to clean the Mess Hall and then at 3:30 a.m. Friday morning until 9:00p.m. Friday night (18 and 1/2 hrs.) I had K.P.  Saturday, we had an inspection and our platoon won the best of the week (yea).  Then we had a...

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Letters 13 & 14 from Basic 1968

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Letters 13 & 14 from Basic 1968

Why Does A Man Cuss? I wrote a letter to Frank about the increase in cuss words in his letters to me.  The following letter is his explanation for why a man cusses.     April 9, 1968  Dear Nancy,  Girl, I am severely disappointed in you.  I got three letters from you today and the 3rd one, (April 6), made me feel very bad.  You know I love you very much and for me to love someone commands a great deal of respect for that person.  I respect you more than I have respected anyone in my entire life.  I asked you to marry me and be my wife.  Nancy marriage to me is one of the most important and...

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Letters 15 & 16 from Basic 1968

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Letters 15 & 16 from Basic 1968

A Unique and Special Letter The next letter is unique and special, Frank decided to write to me on something he thought would be different, but I will let him tell you about it.        April 20, 1968  Dear Lou,  Isn’t this a novelty?  I bet you never expected to get a letter that was written on a bedsheet.  Well, I’m not out of paper, I’m not nuts, and I don’t mean anything by it.  I just thought that it would be unusual.   It is Friday of my 6th week and my nerves are shot. We don’t get our orders until Wednesday and rumor is the RA’s don’t get a...

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My Brother’s Letter, Basic 1968

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My Brother’s Letter, Basic 1968

There is a love that is often unspoken between best friends.  Frank and Jimmy shared that unspoken love. My brother, Jimmy Blakley, who is mentioned throughout these chapters as “Jimmy” by me or called “Jim” by Frank in his letters, was also awaiting orders.    Frank and Jimmy were best friends who had a deep love and respect for each other before Frank and I started dating.  Frank and Jimmy had even joined the Army on the Buddy System which meant they were to be stationed together throughout their service time in the Army and included them doing Basic Training...

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Stuck On You, Chapter 16

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Stuck On You, Chapter 16

The Four Days Leading Up to Our Wedding Day Were Full of Excitement Wow!  I had Frank in my arms and it seemed that God had used super glue on our hands and we could not let go. Things were really busy in Van Vleck, Texas.  It seemed like everyone in this town were in some way involved in our wedding.  Since the wedding was planned for the evening of May 8, 1968, at the First Methodist Church in Van Vleck, Texas there was so much to do but it was hard for Frank and me to concentrate on all of the  “pomp and circumstance” when all we wanted to do was be alone with each other. It...

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Going to the Chapel

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Going to the Chapel

And We’re Gonna Get Married! I tossed and turned all night trying to go to sleep but my restless mind would not stop thinking. The excitement and the anticipation that the next evening of becoming Frank’s wife forever, just would not let my mind rest. Of course, that was interlaced with worrisome thoughts about if Frank was okay.  Knowing those guys all to well who had taken Frank to the beach for a Bachelor Party had me asking myself many questions. Did they let him drown?  Was he tied up to a tree on the courthouse lawn in Bay City? Or worse yet, tied up to that tree in the...

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Our Wedding Reception

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Our Wedding Reception

Rice, Ice, Spark Plugs, Water and Cannonballs? As Jimmy, our chauffeur and Bestman, drove Frank and I up to the Wedding Reception at the Oasis Hotel, we noticed that they had put our names on their lighted marque in front of the hotel saying, “Frank and Nancy Wedding Reception”.  It was so special! It would be the first and last time we ever had our names in lights but that made it even more special. Jimmy pulled the car up to the front door entrance then Frank and Jimmy helped me to get out of the car without the “hoop thangy”  exposing me to all of the guests who...

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Honeymoon & HemisFair 1968

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Honeymoon & HemisFair 1968

  Waking up that first morning as Frank’s wife was surreal.  Wondering was it all a dream or reality, then I heard Frank say, “Good Morning Mrs. L. F. Henderson, Jr.” and I knew it was real. Frank and I did what we needed to do to get dressed then repacked our suitcases so we could get a start on our first day as Husband and Wife. I should stop right here and say “thank you” with very deep appreciation to my Mom and her good friend, Peggy Goodloe Fisher.  Evidently, they were feeling very mischievous while I was in the shower the day of my Wedding, so they...

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First Separation Hurts Deeply

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First Separation Hurts Deeply

Frank and I arrived back to Van Vleck from our Honeymoon on May 13, 1968, which meant we needed to decide where we were going to stay.  We decided to split the time he had left of his leave staying together at our folk’s homes.  Frank would fly out for Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts on May 18, 1968, but I would not be able to follow him there until June 1, 1968, the day after I graduated from High School. We spent every minute of those few days together but it seemed like the minutes flew by too quickly then suddenly it was time to take Frank to the airport for him to fly away by...

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Our First Home in Ayer, Mass.

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Our First Home in Ayer, Mass.

Getting on an airplane in Houston at Hobby Airport then being nervous because of never having flown before,  I so was excited to finally be on my way to be with Frank again. Of course, flying Student Standby meant that I could be held up at any point of my trip if the plane I was scheduled to fly on was full with others who had paid the full amount for a ticket. My flight would take me from Houston to Chicago then after changing planes in Chicago, I would fly on to Boston where Frank would be waiting at the airport for me. After arriving at the airport in Chicago and finally finding the gate...

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Mosquitoes and Fan – 1968

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Mosquitoes and Fan – 1968

After arriving at our apartment house, I was not really sure who was most excited, Frank or me. After opening the screen door, we ran up the stairs to a front door to enter into our new home. We had arms full of bags of groceries and were followed closely behind by our friends who had their arms full of groceries, too. As Frank opened our door, he looked at me smiling saying, “Welcome home, Nancy Lou.” I went past Frank smiling, laughing, then looking into the first open doorway to our right as we all walked down a long hallway to another door which we entered then I saw a...

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Clothes, Oreos, Candy Lipsticks

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Clothes, Oreos, Candy Lipsticks

Frank and I solved our fan problem with our “Beater Fan”, or at least for a while.   Now we began to settle into a daily routine. On the weekdays we got up before dawn because Frank needed to be at Fort Devens early in the morning for his classes.  Since we did not have a car and it was a three-mile walk to the base for him, he started out early on his walk to the base. After Frank left for school, I had things to do which kept me busy and fueled my special inventiveness.  I loved figuring out a better way of doing things while making do with what we had. Next story makes me...

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Smoking Laundry & Big Fins 1968

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Smoking Laundry & Big Fins 1968

After having survived the two weeks of not enough food, Frank and I realized that we would have to manage our money very carefully.  Frank was in constant search for another apartment for us because of the high rent we were paying.  Also, he wanted to get closer to town and Fort Devens but for now we were enjoying our apartment in the country. We were only blocks away from a small lake which was called Sandy Pond which was beautiful with a beach and a floating platform that we could swim to.  Swimming in the pond was free, so Frank and I went there on the weekends sometimes to enjoy the...

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Apartment, Snoopy, Corncob Pipe

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Apartment, Snoopy, Corncob Pipe

Frank had been searching for a new place for us to live in town. I was still surprised when he came home one afternoon saying he had found us a new home. The new apartment was located on the third story of a brick building on Main Street in downtown Ayer, Massachusetts. The large building had offices on the second floor and a bank on the first floor. After entering the building through a big door in the middle of the building, a wide stairway led to the second-floor lobby which we walked through to get to another wide stairway that led to the third-floor landing where there were four...

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Why Not Turn Off The Water?

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Why Not Turn Off The Water?

Since we had moved to town, life had become less stressful for Frank and me. Our apartment rent was $25.00 cheaper which gave us more money to spend on food.  We still didn’t have a car, a phone, air-conditioning, washer, dryer, or a television but we thanked God every day for the extra food on our table and each other. When Frank got home in the evenings we had supper then we would take long walks on the sidewalks of downtown Ayer, looking in the windows of all the stores, or we would just sit on our fire escape balcony watching the stars come out at night. My days were full of...

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Texas & The Plastic Fab. Co.

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Texas & The Plastic Fab. Co.

Frank and I were trying to save as much money as we could. Knowing in a couple of months when Frank’s school ended that it would be time for us to leave Ayer, Massachusetts We knew extra money would be needed to ship our things home. Frank could fly Military Standby free but the extra money would also be needed to buy my Student Standby airline ticket.  We were really hoping to get to fly together when we left for home. One Friday afternoon, my best friend came over to our house and told us that there was a job opening at the Union Products Inc. which was a Plastic Fabrication Company...

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Rope Knot and Bivouac

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Rope Knot and Bivouac

We were really having an awesome time just being together. Our love was growing deeper and deeper with each passing day. God had wrapped us in His loving arms protecting us with a love for us that was so evident. We felt Him surround us every day. He had given us, the greatest gift, true love for each other Looking back, I really believe that God had planned our love from our births and  He was delighted by the way we loved each other and loved watching us grow up together. We had made many new close friends and we were finally more secure financially.  Now, we had money for food with a...

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Going Back Home to Texas

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Going Back Home to Texas

After Frank got home from bivouac, we still had a few things to do. We had to take the fully packed barrels with all of our things packed in them to be shipped through REA Express. This company could ship by truck, plane, ship, or train.  Our things were shipped by train from Ayer, Massachusetts to Bay City, Texas. Since we had to be out of our apartment in town on December 15, 1968, Frank and I had to find a place to stay for a few days before we left Ayer, Massachusetts.  Our friends had already moved back to Iowa, so we could not stay with them.  Frank would not be through at Fort Devens...

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Next Stop is Okinawa

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Next Stop is Okinawa

After arriving home in Texas late in the evening of December 20, 1968, Frank and I had only a few days to shop for gifts for our families before Christmas.  Since Frank’s car had been left at his folk’s house while we were in Ayer, Massachusetts, we actually had a car we could drive into Bay City or Houston to shop. Frank’s little sister, Cindy, was not yet two years old, so there was a lot of excitement going on with that little one in Frank’s folk’s home.  She really loved her big brother and he absolutely adored her.  As a matter of fact, they looked so much...

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Settling in with Frank

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Settling in with Frank

We left Naha Airport hand in hand with big smiles on our faces. Frank and I were back together again, nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. It was still early in the day, so we took a cab to Kadena Circle then turned off on a road then in just a couple of blocks, we were at the house that Frank had rented for us to live in. After leaving my suitcase in the house, we decided to walk to a town not far from our house called Kadena. We walked around looking in the open front stores then we went to a restaurant which was approved with a three A rating above the door at the entry....

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Uneven Numbers Competition

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Uneven Numbers Competition

Frank only had a week off from his job at Torii Station to help me get settled into our new home. We worked really hard to get settled in and we did it. Frank worked 30 days straight of each shift, days, evenings then nights, with a couple of days off between the different shifts. The day shift was worked from the hours from 6:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M., the evening shift was worked from 3:00 P.M. until 11:00 P.M. and the night shift was worked from 11:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M. Since Frank and I did not have yet have children, I adjusted my schedule to his schedule.  If Frank worked all night I...

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Ralph and “Ole” Bondo

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Ralph and “Ole” Bondo

Frank and I had settled into the daily living in Okinawa.  Okinawa was such a beautiful island. We had made new friends with couples living in homes around us on three different sides which were designated as off-base military housing.  Across the road, in front of our home, was an area which was not a part of off-base military housing but had homes of Okinawan families.  Both of us felt that we were so lucky to be living in a home that touched different cultures depending on which way you faced or looked.   Frank and I  loved this so much. The single soldiers who lived on the base at Torii...

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Ralph’s Love of Leather

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Ralph’s Love of Leather

I have told you about finding our sweet dog, Ralph, and how much he loved leather but I have not shared with you the things he could do to things made of it. Frank and I were given a bible by his Grandmother who we called “Gram” on Christmas Eve in 1968.  The Bible was made of white leather with our names engraved in gold on the bottom of the front cover.  We dearly loved this Bible.  I had carried it with me in my suitcase to Okinawa. We had a small coffee table in our living room and our bible laid on this table on top of a doily which was an ornamental mat we had purchased...

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Typhoon Elsie and the Habu

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Typhoon Elsie and the Habu

In late September of 1969, Typhoon Elsie was in the Pacific Ocean heading towards Okinawa. Living in approved Military Off-Base housing, Frank was released to be at home with me until all threat of it hitting Okinawa had ended. Frank and I were originally from the Gulf Coast of Texas, so we were educated as to what to do and how to prepare for a Hurricane.  We decided a Typhoon would not be much different, so we prepared accordingly. What could possibly happen?  Enjoy. “Typhoon Elsie” Our home was made of concrete blocks which made it very sturdy.   Inside the wooden stealy bars...

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Kobe Beef, Pizza Party & Carolers

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Kobe Beef, Pizza Party & Carolers

It was now October of 1969 and we did not have any more typhoons, habus or flying doors.  The “Stealy Boys” would always be a threat but Frank and I had learned to live with that. On October 4, 1969, Frank turned twenty years old then on October 6, 1969, I also turned twenty years old.  The single GIs that were our close friends invited us to go out to dinner with them.  They took us to a fancy restaurant in Naha, Okinawa. When we got to the restaurant and once inside, we were seated on three sides of a large U-shaped bar that had bar stools around it.  There was a large grill in...

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