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 until December i8, 1968, so he rented us a room at the NCO Guest Housing on base for five days which cost us $3.00 a day for a grand total of $15.00.

Receipt from 1968

Receipt Guest Housing 1968 Fort Devens, Massachusetts

The room was small with two twin beds that had a small nightstand separating them.  We had a community bathroom down the hall from our room which was small but convenient.  It had been snowing for about a week or two and the base looked like a Winter Wonderland.  The snow reflected the Christmas Lights at night that were hung up all over Fort Devens.

While Frank was finishing his transfer paperwork during the day while we were staying at the Guest Housing, I walked around on the base close to the unit we were staying in.  Frank actually finished up quicker than we expected so we had some days to just hang out on the base together.

Guest House Room at Fort Devens 1968

Nancy Lou in Guest Housing Room Night Before We Left

The last night we were on the base, December 18, 1968, we took a  long walk together in the new snow that had fallen during the day carrying our faithful battery-powered transistor radio.  We decided to walk off the base a couple of miles to a Diner in Ayer where we ate a hamburger then had a piece of “Hot Apple Pie with Cheese Ala Mode”.  This was the first time I had ever eaten apple pie with melted cheese and ice cream on it.  It was awesome.

After we ate we decided to walk down the main street of Ayer past our apartment building one more time as we tried to soak in all of the memories of living there into our minds.  As we walked hand in hand down a back road to get back to the base we came to a bridge which crossed a stream.  The bridge was covered in snow but had not been crossed by vehicles, animals or other people on foot, so we were the first to get to leave our footprints in the freshly fallen snow hoping they would stay there forever.

Frank and I stopped in the middle of the bridge, set the transistor radio down on one side of the railing of the bridge, then we kissed as new snowflakes fell from the sky.  As if by some sort of humorous magic the transistor radio started playing a song by Blue Suede, “Hooked on a Feeling“.  Frank and I started laughing and singing together as we walked hand in hand back to the base knowing that we were both hooked on that feeling.

The next morning, December 19, 1968, Frank and I took a cab to Boston, Massachusetts.  Frank had decided that we should spend the night in Boston because our plane would leave very early the next morning.  We rented a room in a hotel which was downtown.  That afternoon, we walked to an indoor picture show bought tickets, went in, and watched a movie.  When the movie was over we walked to what was called the Boston Common, a park in central Boston.  It was a beautiful park and there were many people in the park of all ages playing in the snow, throwing snowballs, and just having fun.  We sat on a bench in the park and watched for a long time then we went back to the hotel for supper.

Early the next morning Frank and I took a cab to the Airport.  I really think that might have been the wildest ride I have ever taken in a vehicle.  When we got to a tunnel opening, six lanes were converging into two lanes and our cab driver got so close to sideswiping other cars as he honked the horn trying to push his way through the other vehicles that I couldn’t even watch, of course, Frank thought it was hilarious.

Finally, we arrived at the Airport then went inside to check in.  Frank had made sure that we would be flying in the same plane, in seats next to each other for the entire trip to Texas.  We would only change planes in New York at Kennedy Airport then it was a “straight” nonstop flight to Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas.  We had never flown together and we were both excited about getting to do that.

Our flight to New York Kennedy Airport went great but we only had a short layover so we only saw what we could see of New York from the airport windows.  Once we boarded the airplane which would take us to Houston, we got settled in because we knew that flight would be a little longer than our last one.   The airplane was absolutely loaded with passengers.   It was five days until Christmas and everyone was in a joyful mood.

Ater the plane took off the Stewardesses made sure everyone had something to drink and munch on but then we started hitting major turbulence as the “fasten your seatbelt lights” came on.  The Pilot of the plane came on the loudspeaker then told us that there was a major winter storm coming into the East Coast and our flight would have to take a different route.  He explained to us that this route would take us out over the Atlantic Ocean until he could veer the plane more directly towards Texas.

The Pilot of the plane could have just stopped right there with his explanation but either he had been drinking too much Eggnog or he had a strange sense of humor as he went on to tell us how many miles we had left to fly, how many miles the plane could go on a gallon of Aviation fuel, and how many gallons of fuel the plane had left at that moment.  Of course, I am pulling out a pen and paper from my purse trying to figure it all out when the Pilot came back on the speaker telling us, “If you are a praying person,  pray!”

The whole plane got really quiet as we bounced up and down from the turbulence.  I know I squeezed Frank’s hand until it had no circulation but Frank kept telling me, “I love you, Nancy.  It is Christmas time and God isn’t gonna let us miss our first Christmas together.”

I looked at him then told him how much I loved him then managed to give him a big smile.  The flight seemed to go on forever but finally, the Pilot came on the loudspeaker again then said, “Halleiluya! Must be some good praying people back there, because I see Hobby Airport coming up in the distance! Thank you for your prayers!”

All the passengers started clapping and cheering including the two of us then I released Frank’s hand.   Frank told me he was glad that the flight wasn’t longer because he absolutely thought he would never be able to get circulation back in his hand.  Of course, he laughed. We landed safely then couldn’t wait to get off of that plane.  Our parents and siblings were all in the terminal to greet us as we came down the ramp into the terminal.  Everyone was so excited and there were lots of hugs and kisses.

Frank and I  decided to ride to Van Vleck with our folks in separate cars.  I rode with my folks and Frank rode with his folks. After we reached  Van Vleck each of us visited with our folks at their different houses.  Well, this was all fine and dandy until it was bedtime and we realized we were three miles apart without a car.

My folk’s phone rang about midnight and it was Frank.  He asked to speak to me then his exact words were, “Nancy Lou, either I come there are you come here. Either way is fine with me but I am not sleeping without you by my side.”

Of course, I totally agreed with him.  Frank borrowed his Dad’s car then came to my folk’s home for the night.  We would trade out staying at one house or the other during the thirty days before Frank left for Okinawa but we would never spend a night apart.

Frank and I were in Ayer, Massachusetts together from June 1, 1968, until December 20, 1968.  In those six and a half months we had become totally reliant on each other and our love for each other had taken us to such a deep place of being one heart and soul.  We were definitely “Hooked on a feeling”.  Thinking God had to be smiling.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Another beautiful share of a true love story. The world will benefit when this book is available. It could easily be a glue that binds True LOVE for many.

    • Thank you, Chuck. We didn’t have any rules in our love and we were totally unjealous of one another. We just laid our feelings of love out to each other freely. Neither of us were controlling of the other but in awe of what made each of us tick.
      Thank you for your comment and continual encouragement,
      God Bless you
      Nancy

  2. What a love story. Beautiful, Nancy. I agree with Chuck that many will no doubt benefit from your story. When the book is published, it would make a nice wedding or anniversary gift from a couple, one spouse to the other.

    • Wow KB, what a beautiful thing for you to say. Words fail me as I try to respond to your comment. God has a purpose for this book. I hope and pray that it will be the for the purpose you have mentioned.
      God Bless you and thank you so much for reading and commenting,
      Nancy

  3. I am sure God was smiling. And He is still smiling as you share this beautiful story with us. Being so open about your love both to each other and now with your audience is a rarity. I can feel the depth of your love for one another as I read, and it is precious. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your stories. I think KiKi is right. Your book would make a great wedding or anniversary gift. God bless.

    • Thank you do much Diane for your heartfelt words. I want so much to convey how much we loved each other.
      I think the time we soent really talking to each other is do necessary in marriage.
      When I get to the Vietnam letters you will read about how much Frank missed our talks but then again you will also read that as he writes to me he is actually talking to me as if I was sitting in the room with him.
      God Bless You, Diane,
      Nancy

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