The Christmas cabin

Here is another of my dad’s Navy stories from a book that we are writing based on his 20-year Naval career. This book is a work in progress. Some stories are in the first person and some of them are in the third person and some are completely nonfiction and some are completely fiction. Still others are a mix between the two. I don’t yet have a clear vision of exactly how I want this book to look. For now, here is a Christmas story, sort of, from when he was stationed in Georgia, where I was born.

When I was stationed at VR -52 NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, I received orders to report to VR-46 at NAS Atlanta. Actually, the base is in Marietta, a large suburb of Atlanta. I had just bought a brand new 1981 Ford F150 pickup truck and I was looking forward to the seven hundred mile drive. I, or rather, the Navy, packed up my newly acquired family and we were on our way.

I quickly found out my new truck had an alignment problem, as one of my brand new tires was completely eaten up by the time we arrived. Other than that, the trip was fairly uneventful. We didn’t yet have permanent living quarters, so I got us a cabin at the lake. The base keeps cabins in a Navy owned recreation area for just such times as these.

While staying in the cabin, my new wife got bit by a spider and her face swelled up to the size of a watermelon. It took so long to find a place to live that we ended up having Christmas in that little cabin. I chopped down a pine tree in the woods and we decorated it and the cabin with ornaments and lights. Christmas was definitely a lot more fun with a family. I not only had a new wife, but also a three-year-old son.

We cooked a modest Christmas meal with what could only be described as a half a kitchen. There was a stove and a sink but not much room for more than one person to move about. Still, it was a great Christmas with my new family.

Not long after Christmas I happened to come across a mobile homes sale. The mobile home park was called Blue Springs Village. It was the first home I ever bought; a 24×40 double wide mobile home. It had cedar siding and a shingled roof, and I thought I had a mansion.

At the base, I was still an aircraft mechanic as I had been trained for but one thing changed. The squadron got the word that we were retiring the C-118 aircraft. They had a long and venerable history, but they were aging. Specifically, Aircraft number 257 was retiring. We were told that it had once done service as President Truman’s Air Force One. It was all decked out in presidential seating. I hated that we had to gut it and put it back in service as a regular C-118 Liftmaster.

In any event, I did the last daily inspection and the final launch of that plane as it was sent to its final resting place at Davis/Motham Airfield.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.
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