Stories about my family

Day: August 11, 2020

Raising Children, Chapter two, pg 10, “We Family”

RAISING CHILDREN

Phyllis has always loved the idea of family and caring for children.  In fact she has said many times she wished that our children could have stayed young.

She enjoyed teaching them games, telling them stories, making up rhymes, joking with them and going on camping trips.

She liked playing in the floor and rolling around with our kids and playing in the yard.  She liked packing their lunches, seeing them off to school and especially meeting them at the door when they returned home. Phyllis made everyday a special day.

I remember our conversations before we were married. Contrary to emerging feminist thought of the early 1960’s,  Phyllis wanted a family. Her highest goal was to be mother and wife.Not only did she teach values and morals, she taught them to our children in ways that made sense to kids. By using songs and stories she taught that it was wrong steal, lie, cheat and to pick on kids who were different.  My wife was especially vocal about taking prayer out of school and teaching such things as sex education.   When our kids were in grade school, education administrators stopped listening to parents in matters such as these.

On one occasion in 1967, Phyllis attended an open forum on curriculum content for the upcoming school year. Tulsa Public School administrators/teachers hosted the event, ostensibility to provide input to the curriculum.However, that was not the true agenda.  After a short time it was clear that the real reason for the meeting was to  convince parents that it was appropriate for teachers and administrators to teach religious neutral morality, situation ethics, and age appropriate sex education.

Essentially, the administrators /teachers approach to sex education was clinical without boundaries of moral judgements.  Further, the classroom was not a place for religious opinions of what is right or wrong rather it was the situation that determined ethical choices.

Near the end of the meeting the moderator opened the forum for questions and  comments. It was clear that most parents objected to the educators approach to these subjects. But the host was undeterred.

When Phyllis was recognized, she spoke her mind about sex eduction and situational ethics, the moderator interrupted her and asked Phyllis whose morals should be taught.  Without a pause, Phyllis responded “certainly not yours”.  The meeting was over.

Good News, Chapter 2, pg 5, “We Family”

  THE GOOD NEWS

When I was called to the commander’s office December of 1963, I was not prepared for what he said.  He first put me at ease and said a few words about what a good soldier he thought I was.  I nodded and waited for the other shoe to  drop.  Then he told me that I had been selected to attend Officers Candidate School, Fort Benning, Ga.  I was to be assigned to 54th Company.

Picture taken March, 1964

I was not sure what it meant and I said so.  He explained that when and if a candidate becomes an (OCS) graduate he is promoted to second lieutenant in the Infantry.  He continued that I was enrolled in the next class  scheduled in less than two months.

When he said Lieutenant, I was thrilled that I would have the chance for a promotion such as this.  He continued that the six month course was extremely demanding both physically and academically, but I had stopped listening.  I was thinking how thrilled Phyllis would be to be leaving Germany.  When I was dismissed, I saluted, and hurried home to share the good news.  Phyllis was excited about the news.  We started hugging and laughing.     Rick knew something big was going on by the way he reacted to our excitement.

We started planning, thinking and talking how fortunate we were.   Germany was a hardship tour.

Graduation picture, August, 1964

The next day I learned the departure date was a month away.  Well, we could do that standing on our heads.  Since we would be restricted on how much we could take with us, we had to think about things to sell or give away.  Never too soon to plan.

First thing, I had to get into shape.  I would likely be the oldest candidate in my platoon and the weakest would be eliminated first.  I didn’t want be first, nor last but somewhere in between.   Run, Run and Run some more.

Our small family was excited.  We’re going home.

Vietnam, Chapter 2, pg 8, “We Family”

VIETNAM, THE FIRST TIME     

I had been in Vietnam a few months when this picture was taken.On November 28, 1966, the 3rd Platoon, A Company, 1/35 Infantry Battalion was engaged in a ferocious battle with The Army of North Vietnam in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam.  My Platoon was called upon to attack an enemy fortification.  We lost one man, PFC Toy, while doing the job.

     Rick helping Cynthia learn to walk.

While I’m busy doing my job, my wife, Phyllis is busy doing two jobs.  Mine and hers.  She was under much stress managing a household and nurturing our three children.  My job was easy in comparison.  And I love her for it, as much today as I did then.

Caring for and nurturing three young children is a sizeable chore.  Including training boys to do chores that will help them to grow into responsible adults.

One minute a laughing happy child.                   

 

Eat, then sleep, rest for mom for a little while.

 

All three of our children grew a lot while I was gone.

Being apart.  Such was our life during times of separation, which was much too often.  It took many years to catch up on what I missed.  But never really, completely.

Going Home, Chapter 2, pg 6. “We Family”

 GOING HOME

The time went faster than we thought.  Knowing I had to get into shape, so I ran and ran.  Up hills, down hills, around and around until exhausted.  Then got up and did again and again.  It’s a good thing, because the very day I reported in, My OCS Tactical officer called the platoon to attention and we ran.

There were about 55 candidates in the platoon on the first day.  By the end of the  first half mile, at least 15 men had fallen out.  After another mile, more fell out, After 4 miles only a dozen or less were left.  After the next half mile, I stopped.  The leader stopped at almost the same time.  Lucky me.

But, I’m ahead of myself.  We were excited and busy.  We sold the old car for $100.  We had a few friends and gave away whatever we could not take, which was a lot.  We knew we were going to be short on money for the trip.

But after we bought tickets from Frankfort to Tulsa, we would have enough to buy food if we watched our spending.  Ever the optimist.

We happily left Germany and arrived in New Jersey and things was going along just fine.  And then, everything fell apart, or so it seemed.

This is similar to the Observation Car we rode from New Jersey to Tulsa

When we were checking our baggage in at Newark Airport we learned our baggage was overweight and it would cost $100 more that we had expected.

Of course, we didn’t have the money so we had to find an alternative.  Here’s where God intervened.

A lady whose officer husband boarded a flight to Germany, overheard part of our conversation and approached us with an offer.  She invited us to come to her home and help us with a solution.  We accepted her offer.

We decided to get train tickets to Tulsa.  Again, God intervened.  The ticket’s and baggage were within our budget, the train was leaving at a time which allowed us to get the station with time to spare.

The Lady was a Godsend and we were unable to adequately thank her.  Throughout our travels and circumstances in our married life, we have been aided unexpectedly by strangers several times.  It’s God’s way to help those in need.

The two day train ride was a joy.  Rick was the star among the among passengers.  He amazed them with his vocabulary and his ability to converse with adults.                                

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of our travel was the dome car. These cars have an “observation” section (on the main floor) where passengers can sit and look out at the receding scenery.  It was an unexpected joy that we still talk about.  Phyllis called her parents and they soon arrived to pick us up.

Bill and Ellen

The next couple of weeks were a whirlwind.   We picked up our 1959 mauve Oldsmobile 98, which had been in storage since Phyllis left about 14 months earlier.  Bill had been to the garage every month to start the car and check things out.      Bill was that kind guy.  He was always willing to do things for the other person.

Phyllis was 4 months pregnant with Randy by now and 3 additional people in the Lasson family would be a strain relationships.   So much so, that Phyllis called me and said she was moving to Fort Benning when Randy was two weeks old.

Since I was confined to billets for another month, it was particularly difficult time for Phyllis for the next three weeks.  Finally, graduation was here and we became a family again.

OCS graduation day.  Phyllis, Rick and me.

Snow, Snow and More Snow, Chapter 2 , pg 4, “We Family”

    SNOW, SNOW AND MORE SNOW

      I had been in Germany for 5 months when my wife, Phyllis, and our son, Rick, arrived in Buren in January of 1963.  Their arrival was punctuated by a brutal and prolonged winter.  The winter of 1962-1963 was statistically the coldest winter of  the 20th Century in many parts of Europe and was called:    “The Big Freeze of the century in Germany, 1963”

Heavy snowfalls stayed on the ground for weeks on end due to the frigid temperatures.

On our meager budget, Phyllis and I had to live on about $210. a month. After paying bills we barely had sufficient funds left to eat and buy gas to drive to and from work.
As you might guess, our life centered around Rick.  One day after work, Phyllis and I were hugging when Rick came running up saying “hold me, hold me”.

We picked him up and held him between us.  He looked at both of us and said, “we family”. And we were.   57 years later our family motto is the same.

On November 22,1963, President Kennedy was killed and Camp Stockerbush was placed on high alert and remained so for several weeks. There were rumors  that the assassination would start WW III and  Germany would have been right in the middle of such an event.

The worry was for naught.

.

Living in Germany, Chapter 2, pg 3, “We Family”

 LIVING IN GERMANY

 Buren was an agrarian community with multi-generational families residing on the  same farm.  Based on the chilly reception we received,  I think our arrival was seen as an intrusion on their way of life.  Notwithstanding all  of these things, my family was back together and that was the important thing.

 A month or so after her arrival, Phyllis experienced the animosity of an older gentleman while she was driving to the commissary in Kassel, about 80 kilometers South of Buren.

When she stopped at a stop sign in one of the small villages the old man hit the rear fender of the car with his cane.  Obviously, the sound scared her and as she turned to see what happened, the man waved his cane for her to move on. Phyllis continued to the commissary but she was wary whenever she was away from home.

       Sjghtseeing in a nearby berg

On another occasion while she was driving, she found herself behind a large truck.  When the truck stopped, she stopped a safe distance behind the truck. Suddenly the truck started backing up and before Phyllis could respond, the truck hit her car.

Neither driver could communicate with the other.  A  policeman was called.  The truck driver claimed Phyllis drove into the back of his vehicle.  Of course, that was  not the case but the policeman gave her a summons to appear before a local judge who would adjudicate the matter.  The judge sided with the truck driver but did not issue a fine.                        me and Rick

Although we were not accepted by the local community, we took trips to Camp Stuckerbush to pass the time away.  We didn’t know at the time, but we would be leaving Germany in a couple of months so that I could attend Officers Candidate School, Ft Benning, Ga.

                 Phyllis and Rick                      

          We went sightseeing a lot

My Friend Bernard, Chapter 2, pg 2, ” We Family”

  MY FRIEND BERNARD

My friend Specialist 4th Class Frank Bernard and I worked in the personnel office attached to an artillery battery stationed in Northern Germany.  Although I worked in the finance office and he worked in records, we were natural competitors. We competed in ping pong, pool, or any endeavor.  The story I’m going to tell happened in Buren, Germany in 1963.

But first I want to say, I will always be indebted to Sp4 Barnard for helping Phyllis get a port call to join me in Buren in the fall of 1962.  His actions were necessary because the officer charged with that responsibility failed to do so.

Approximately 40 Bungalows in Buren which were leased by U.S. Army.

        Since Phyllis and I lived in the same housing unit as the Bernards which  was located about six miles from Camp Stuckerbush (real name), Frank and I  frequently shared rides.  One day when it was my turn to drive, he challenge me to a race.  Frank had been “raggin” on me about driving a pile of junk since  he first saw my 1950 Volkswagen.

Maybe it was, but it was my pile of junk.  He would be on foot and I would be driving my ailing 1950 Volkswagen.  The distance would be the space between two telephones.   Seeing a chance to win a bet, I agreed.

Along  a deserted section of road on our way home that afternoon I stopped the car and Frank got out and took the runners starting position. He yelled “go” and took off.  I got a slow start but it didn’t matter because ten seconds later he started limping with a pulled hamstring.  I didn’t take his dollar.

Further, I think I would’ve lost because the old VW was slow on the take off.   

Another quick story.   A few weeks later it was Bernard’s turn to drive. a morning when fog was so dense it was difficult to see the narrow road.  We were running late for work but Bernard  said, I will get us there on time,

                           painting old VW with spray pain

I’ll bet you.  Suddenly, a truck appeared out of the fog in front of us and Bernard steered his car into an orchard to miss the truck but he hit an apple tree.  The farmer who owned the tree was nearby and called the.  police.  We didn’t get to work on time, but I didn’t say anything.

There was a tradition in the farming area where we lived that if someone harmed the farmer’s livelihood, the aggrieved farmer was entitled to remedy.  For example, if someone accidentally ran over a chicken, the farmer would be entitled to compensation for all the eggs the chicken would have laid the life of the chicken.

I suppose that the amount of compensation was based on an historical analysis of the average life span of a typical egg laying hen similar to the kind killed in the accident.

Since I know something about chickens and how finicky some laying hens can be and the multitude of things that can affect the health and life span of a chicken, it seems that if a case went to court, the defense attorney would have a field day with the assumptions about chickens.

I don’t know anything about apple trees.

Phyllis and I returned to the United States shortly after this incident and I don’t know if Specialist Bernard paid the farmer for the future crops of the damaged apple tree.  Like many families in military service, our paths never crossed again.  We hoped he escaped the farmer’s outrageous claim.

 

Rick on foot bridge leading to our Bungalow

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