LIVING IN NORMAN
Living in Norman Oklahoma was quite a departure from the lifestyle our family was accustomed to. First, living in a non-military community required a bit of adjustment. For example, one day the lady next door asked Phyllis “does your husband like killing people”. Such a question would never occur to a neighbor in a military community. Another difference was the job, if one could call it that. I was given a two year leave of absence from military duty to complete a degree at Oklahoma University. You can get good grades with a minimum of work outside of class. The key was to sit up front, listen carefully, take copious notes and review mentally while doing other tasks. The family had more time to do other thing, like fishing. So we made several trips to Lake Thunderbird, a reservoir located a few miles east of Norman. One particular event bears telling since it is a common tale at family gatherings when the topic of fishing is brought up. Since Cynthia was not old enough to fish for fish, Phyllis helped her tie a piece of bait on a string tied to the end of a 2-3 foot stick.She was having a good time catching crawdads. She never actually touched the crawdad, she simply shook it off the bait. She and her mother were have a laughing good time, when this happened. We were fishing under a bridge with large rocks leading out into the water. Cynthia was standing on one, as she was catching crawdads. She lost her balance and starting falling into the water. I said starting to fall, because by the time she touched water, she had turned in mid air and was on way out as soon her feet touched the water. Fortunately, it wasn’t deep and we all were there as Phyllis helped her to her feet. Cynthia knew the large crawdads had large pinchers and she wanted no part of it.
The year was 1971 and anti military sentiment was common, especially on university campuses. The requirement to wear my military uniform once a week was a requirement which I willingly obeyed. A few times a students made derogatory comments about the military, I did not respond verbally. Military bearing and composure under these circumstances required no response, but walking ahead, stepping aside for no-one.
The family took on an outside project in Norman . We bought a new house when we first moved and the yard was not established. It needed a lot of work.
The back yard was barren and sloped up from the back of the house about 3 feet in elevation. We decided to take out the sloop and put the removed dirt in the back 1/3 part of the yard, making a 2 tier terrace. To add pleasing lines, we put-in a brick path next to the wall. That made a walkway entering the back yard from either side gate around to the other gate. To add additional eye appeal, we put white rock on top of the elevated part and spaced flowers and small shrubs to further enhance the look. To top it off we put a planter box about a foot wide on top of the wall next to the walk.
To get an idea of how much work was involved, we moved the following materials from the front driveway to the back yard, one wheel barrow at a time. 3 tons of white gravel, about 2 tons of sand (for making cement and as foundation for the sidewalk, 3300 used bricks for the wall and sidewalk. Several bags of cement and other building materials for making forms, etc. A family project that took a lot of time and work but it it turned out nice. Unfortunately, it did not help sell the house since the economy was in a slump when we left Norman. We paid about $26,500 for a new 3-bedroom brick house with fireplace and now, with a nice backyard. We sold the house about 3 months after we moved for the same price we paid. Back
to Fort Benning for the third time. This time we would be there for three years. As an instructor, I would not have to work overtime much. We could have more time for Davis Lake or even the Army RV Park in Destin, Floridia, about a five hour drive south. More pictures of three kids that worked to help the mom and I to finish this project. We thought the back yard work would help sale the house when the time came but it did not.